Friday, June 08, 2007

Status of Learning Objects

On the one hand, writing about learning objects as the solution to better online education has been decreasing, but there is still some discussion of this idea. David Wiley wrote the following:

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about these declarations [learning objects are dead] since they started appearing, and I’ve come to the somewhat troubling conclusion that I don’t think I care if learning objects are dead or not.
Almost everyone cites his original definition of learning objects so it is interesting that he has come to this conclusion.

In another article, Michael Feldstein writes that there is no such thing as a learning object and goes on to say

I believe the term "learning object" has become harmful. It hides the same old, bad lecture model behind a sexy buzz phrase.
I think we may be giving up on the idea of learning objects too soon. I think Wiley is correct in saying that the current way of thinking about learning objects is dead or perhaps a deadend. I also think Feldstein is correct in saying that "learning objects" got a lot of buzz, but maybe there wasn't that much there.

Perhaps the most telling is that Wikipedia has a note in May 2007 on the "learning objects" page that says this article maybe confusing or unclear for some readers.

If even the Wikipedians can't figure out how to talk about "learning objects" we are really in trouble.

I think what has discouraged a lot of people is that efforts to develop learning objects and repositories has proven to be much more difficult than anyone imagined. Teaching and learning is complex and has many dimensions. We were naive to think that we could easily create online learning that would overcome all the complexity that exist.

However, I think we should still work on the ideas of sharing learning materials and the idea of reusing existiing materials. This time we need to do the hard work that it will take to make this happen.

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