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Learning Objects: What, Why, and How


The term learning object has become more common in the eLearning industry. With the limited time that we have available for learning these days, there’s an opportunity for students and working professionals to be able to take their education with them, learning incrementally.

How Does Learning Objects Work?

Learning objects are meant to be simple to develop and implement. That’s part of their appeal. The University of Sydney points out that the general idea behind them is threefold:

  1. Learning objects are self-contained, digital or non-digital resources that can be used for learning, education or training in bursts of time ranging from two to fifteen minutes.
  2. Learning objects can be stacked or grouped together to easily form collections of themed content, including traditionally designed courses.
  3. Learning objects are tagged with metadata to aid with search functionality.

Learning Objects Examples

What Makes Learning Objects Tick?

Now that we have an idea of what learning objects are, let’s look at how to make one. Previously, we’ve examined the use of Microlearning and GIFs. That sort of content would be used in an learning object, along with full videos, audio, and text.

There are questions we need to ask as part of the process of designing learning objects:

  1. Identify the What, Who, Why:
    • What are you trying to teach? Is it a specific skill that needs to be learned, or is it general information?
    • Who are you teaching? Is it a novice learning a skill? An advanced student taking a final exam? Or an employee testing aptitude for a new position?
    • Why do they not know yet? Are there any prerequisite skills, classes, or training that they’ve needed to get them to this point? If so, is there a review that needs to be handled before you proceed with this particular LO?
  2. With those three questions answered, you’ve developed your objective for the LO. Now you need to set your specifications. Remember, you’re aiming for bite-size. It should be quick, easy, and memorable.
  3. Regardless of if it’s an actual test or if you’re teaching a skill, there has to be some way to assess progress built into the LO, and to the program overall. Ideas include having users input quick journal entries before or after each session, take quick surveys, or even do a simple mind map exercise.
  4. Give a thorough explanation to your user, make certain they know exactly how to use the LO, what’s expected, and that you answer any questions they might have.
  5. Double-check your metadata and copyright anything that needs it.
  6. Ask for feedback periodically, and adjust when necessary.

It Sounds Like a Lot—But It Really Isn't!

With the right software to help, that is. MyEcontentFactory is  developed as more than just a collaboration tool. It allows users to create, access, edit, and release learning objects from anywhere. And you can add your own media, access your assessments, give directions across multiple platforms whenever you need.

Learning objects have the potential to accomplish so much, yet that potential has barely been explored. A study done in 2010 examined the reasons why, and looked at future applications. With learning objects, you have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this technology as it develops. By taking advantage of that chance, savvy businesses and educators can get one step ahead.

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