Learning Objects: A Practical Definition

Rory McGreal, International Journal of Instructional Technology, Distance Learning, Sept 21, 2004
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The September issue of the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning has arrived and I am running two articles, beginning with this item by Rory McGreal, who leaps once again into the fray with a (nother) definition of learning objects. Once again, McGreal has me defining learning objects as "anything and everything" but has this time managed to catch the nuance of my position - "Whether something counts as a LO, depends on whether it can be used to teach or learn, and this can only be determined by its use, not by its nature." But he still disagrees with me. "There are good reasons for restricting which information objects should count as LOs and which will not." His definition, at the bottom of the article - "any reusable digital resource that is encapsulated in a lesson or assemblage of lessons grouped in units, modules, courses, and even programmes" - is still something I cannot support. Gosh, why would we constrain our definition of learning to such outmoded, hierarchical, linear and obsolete concepts?
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