99 paper

Learning object: A new definition, a case study and an argument for change

Jenny McDonald
Higher Education Development Centre
University of Otago

A recursive definition of ‘learning object’ is proposed which supports the possibility of infinite variety in terms of how a learning object is constructed and used by teaching staff and students. The new definition is bound to two key properties of a learning object, reusability and use for learning, and places no theoretical limit on the size of a learning object. The proposed definition of learning object is derived from the development pattern that emerged during the course of a large collaborative project to develop a series of information literacy modules. The proposed definition is tested against the current generally agreed properties of learning objects, and against the outputs of the project from which the definition was derived. The new definition is also compared with some existing definitions and an argument is presented for why it may prove more useful, in both theory and practice, than its predecessors.

Keywords: learning object, recursion, reusability, granularity, SCORM