A Learning Object is defined as a self-contained modular resource that can be used and re-used to assist learning activities.
Learning objects are modular resources that are re-usable, sharable, discoverable, and adaptable to different contexts. It also contains ‘metadata’ which provides accessibility to information in time and availability easily. Metadata means literally ‘data about data’ and is explanatory information about any resource. It stores all information about a source like a card catalog in a library.
Then, what are the features of learning object?
- L.O. are reusable: which means they can be used again and again for different applications in different contexts. This characteristic is the pillar of learning object.
- L.O. are accessible: easily from everywhere, they can be used by many users at the same time (are generally uderstood to be digital entities), they can meet wide audience’s specific needs.
- L.O. are discoverable: is made possible by the learning object metadata. Furthermore, metadata for learning objects (such as Title, Author, Version, Format, etc.) makes it probable for people and computers to find objects easily by searching, as opposed to browsing the entire digital library one object at a time until they find a satisfying one.
- L.O. are adaptable: they can be modified to meet different user requirements. Thus, instead of creating from scratch, with a few adaptations objects can be useful for different necessities. Thanks to this feature, they are created just once, but used several times in different contexts, compensating for the high cost of production.
In order for widespread reuse to be possible, interoperability issues are extremely important, and a somewhat negected kind of interoperability is interoperability between learning objects. Examples include content objects from different original creations working together when assembled into a learning object and learning objects being able to work properly when moved among systems using different specifications.
L.O. are associated with “granularity”. The notion granularity has to do with the size of learning object how big or small will be. They are small educational pieces that can be integrated for special aims. As being small size, objects can be changed with a few alterations. The more learning object becomes smaller, the more productivity and efficiency, flexibility of it increase. To put in simple terms
L.O. are Customizable and Modular. L.O. can work in different learning objects and be changeable according to person’s own learning needs. To put it in simple terms, LEGO metaphor can be used to explain what basically learning objects are. Like LEGOs, learning objects have small pieces of instruction (Topics) that can be assembled (Units) into some larger instructional structure (Books) and reused in other instructional structures (Course). They can be assembled into any shape, size, and function.
To put it in more theoratically, learning objects are self-contained units of instructions designed to help the learners to improve their target proficiency. This object-based principle is based upon the idea that a course or lesson can be built from reusable instructional components that can be built separately but modified to the user’s needs
Also the terms ‘learning patterns’, ‘learning objects’, ‘resources’ and ‘components’ represent a loose hierarchy of reusable elements that together form a learning solution.