Innovative Learning
  Home Learning Objects Related Links

Learning Objects

The idea of learning objects is to create media content that is:

  • interoperable - can "plug-and-play" with any system or delivery tool
  • reusable - can be used or adapted for use in multiple learning events
  • accessible - can be stored a way that allows for easy searchability
  • manageable - can be tracked and updated over time


Learning object definitions vary greatly, however the basic idea behind learning objects are as follows:

  • "The smallest independent structural experience that contains an objective, a learning activity and an assessment (L'Allier, 1997)
  • "Any digital resource that can be reused to support learning" (David Wiley, 2002)
  • "Any reusable digital resource that is encapsulated in a lesson or assemblage of lessons grouped in units, modules, courses , and even programmes. A lesson can be defined as a piece of instruction, normally including a learning purpose or purposes. (McGreal, 2002., p. 8)
  • "any element of that [instructional] architecture that can be independently drawn into a momentary assembly in order to create an instructional event. Instructional objects can included problem environments, interactive models, instructional problems or problem sets, instructional function modules, modular routines for instructional augmentation (coaching, feedback, etc),), instructional message elements, modular routines for presentation of information, or logic modules related to instructional purposes (management, recording, selecting, etc.). (Gibbons, Nelson, and Richards, n.d., p. 5)
  • "the holy grail" of digital content creation (Polsani, Feb. 2003, p1)


Learning objects are also known as the following (list complied Shalin Hai-Jew):

  • Knowledge Object
  • Asset
  • Content Object
  • Educational OBject
  • Information Object
  • Learning resource
  • Media object
  • raw media element
  • intelligent object
  • reusable information object
  • reusable learning object
  • unit of learning
  • unit of study
  • data object
  • instructional object

Learning Object Repositories

The following are publically available learning object respositories (descriptions from University of Milwake Center for International Education)

Apple Learning Interchange
Searchable database of "thousands of Internet resources that can be valuable for teaching and learning"

The Connexions Project at Rice University has created an open repository of educational materials and tools to promote sharing and exploration of knowledge as a dynamic continuum of interrelated concepts.

Education Network Australia
Supported by, a non-profit company limited by guarantee and owned by the Australian education and training Ministers, EdNA provides users with access to over 16,000 materials of interest to teachers and learners of all levels, covering a wide range of subjects.

Educational Software Components of Tomorrow
A testbed for the integration of innovative technology in middle school mathematics. The project investigates replicable practices that produce predictably high quality digital learning resources"
Part of a larger collection of resources and forums that inform educators about the potential uses of learning objects and encourages their use and creation.

LoLa Exchange: Learning Objects, Learning Activities
At its home at Wesleyan, it serves as a way for us to keep track of the Learning Objects that we are developing as part of our Learning Objects project. We will be able to use LOLA to present our Learning Objects rather than having to make a container for each object by hand.

A free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students in higher education. With a continually growing collection of online learning materials, assignments and reviews, MERLOT helps faculty enhance instruction.

Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse
The Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse is a “collection of problems and articles to assist educators in using problem-based learning.” Materials are accompanied by notes and supplementary materials from teachers regarding their uses in the classroom setting.

Wisconsin Online Learning Object Project

Additional Literature

Instructional Design Jobs

Instructional Design Books