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Reusability of Learning Objects

Page history last edited by Jayashree Balaji 10 years, 5 months ago

Learning objects are essentially “chunks” or "packets" of learning materials that can be used within learning environments. The rationale behind building them as chunks is to facilitate resource sharing for the purpose of maximizing reuse in different learning contexts (Downes, 2001[1]; Wiley, 2002[2]).


Two key characteristics in the Learning Object(LO) model are what it is used for and its reusability. In fact, use and reuse are so central to LOs that reusability is regarded as a defining attribute. Wiley (2002) for instance defines a learning object as “any digital resource that can be reused to support learning.”



At the end of this unit you will have understood  


  • The meaning of reusable learning objects
  • Available standards developed to encourage reusability
  • How a learning object can be packaged to acceptable standards
  • That a packaged learning object may be imported or exported into delivery platforms (like Learning Management System[3]/Content Management Systems[4])


Learning Objects become reusable when they are both accessible and adaptable.

  • Accessibility is enhanced when objects are available in digital form, referenced by online databases and described by metadata[5] that allow users including teachers and instruction designers to assess the utility of the object. 
  • Adaptability and thus reusability becomes possible when a Learning Object can be used outside the learning context for which it was originally developed. For example, using the Learning Object for a different course, by a different group of learners, or on a delivery platform with different technical specifications.


Standards to describe and annotate LO 

 Considerable effort has been expended to develop standards to describe and annotate educational and non educational electronic materials. The use of annotating, describing your learning materials through metadata is several fold. Metadata aids in the discovery of your resources, helps with reusability of your learning objects and facilitates interoperability - like for example you can export your objects from one learning management system and import them in another.


Metadata element sets/schema[6] for learning materials include the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative(http://dublincore.org/), the IEEE-LOM (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Learning Object Metadata) (IEEE, 2002). The IEEE-LOM metadata schema has more than 70 metadata fields, the most extensive metadata set specifically designed for LOs.


View these presentations freely available from Slideshare. The first is an introduction to the DCMI metadata set and the next on IEEE-LOM metadata schema:


An introduction to IEEE(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) - LOM(Learning Object Metadata)


Another set of standards for elearning products is the SCORM(Sharable Content Object Reference Model; http://scorm.com/scorm-explained/). These standards are for creating sharable learning objects that can be reused in different contexts or systems.


Please view this presentation on SCORM from slideshare- 


A number of learning content generation editors now  allow a developer to create SCORM content. These include the freely available and easy to use eXe software(www.exe.org), or RELOAD(http://www.reload.ac.uk/) besides learning management systems such as Moodle(www.moodle.org).



 There are several screencasts available to help one get started with these editors (such as 

http://exelearning.org/wiki/Screencasts). You could also check out this presentation on how SCORM packages generated through eXe can be loaded onto Moodle.




In a group of 4 or 5 workshop participants, try to create a learning object (text with image/video or a PowerPoint presentation or in eXe for example) and write down its key metadata elements with values (like for example: DCMI label Title="Reusability of Learning Objects"). Package the content files and metadata as a SCORM package(through eXe or RELOAD). 



In conclusion, we have learned of the usefulness of developing reusable learning material. We have also learned that developing learning content as Learning Objects enhances reusability. Finally, creating learning objects to available standards faciliate object discovery, reusability and interoperability.


  1. Downes, S. (2001). Learning objects. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 2(1).
  2. Wiley DA. Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory:A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. In The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, Wiley Ed. published by the Agency for Instructional Technology, 2002.
  3. A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software for planning,delivering, and managing learning events either web based or standalone.LMS are used by educational institutions to enhance and support classroom teaching and offering courses to a larger population of learners across the globe.
  4. A CMS or Content Management System helps manage any kind of digital content:text, images, graphics, video, sound, documents in electronic format. Like an LMS it is a software that allows users to to create, edit, manage and finally publish (in a number of formats) a variety of content (such as text, graphics, video, documents etc), whilst being constrained by a centralised set of rules, process and workflows that ensure coherent, validated electronic content.
  5. Metadata or meta-information can be simply described as “data about data”. Metadata helps describe the characteristics of an information resource in a way that both humans and computers can understand. This facilitates use and management of the information resource.
  6. A metadata Element Set is a set of descriptive definitions that represents a core set of elements characterizing a resource. Standard element sets are useful across a broad range of resources and disciplines of study.

Comments (2)

Jayashree Balaji said

at 6:11 pm on Apr 30, 2011

Comments from the review workshop
--SlideShare material: how do you make it available offline since it is not CC-BY

wayne mackintosh said

at 6:03 pm on Apr 7, 2011

I suggest scrapping all the stuff about LOM / SCORM etc. I don't think its relevant for this audience. Candidly -- these are strategies to keep publishers in business with very little application for educators developing OER.

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