Effective Use of Learning Objects in Class Environments

Effective Use of Learning Objects in Class Environments

David Lake (James Cook University, Australia), Kate Lowe (Murdoch University, Australia), Rob Phillips (Murdoch University, Australia), Rick Cummings (Murdoch University, Australia) and Renato Schibeci (Murdoch University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch024
OnDemand PDF Download:


This chapter provides a model to analyse the effectiveness and efficiency of Learning Objects being used in primary and secondary schools by considering their place within that educational environment, paying particular attention to the manner in which they, like any resource, can aid or occlude productive interactions between teachers and students. It draws from a study of Australian and New Zealand schools that piloted the first release of Learning Objects from the Le@rning Federation. The chapter considers the place of Learning Objects within the overall systemic school environment, and in this environment, examines the individual classroom as the combination of tensions between the teacher’s needs, the students’ needs, and the potential available within the existing infrastructure. Within this framework, the chapter discusses the ways in which these three components interact during teacher selection of Learning Objects, students’ accession of Learning Objects in the classroom, and the use of the Learning Objects by students. It concludes by suggesting how students’ construction of knowledge can be enhanced through merging the capabilities of the resource with the needs of students and teachers.
Chapter Preview


The Le@rning Federation began in 2001 as a collaboration between the state, territory, and federal governments of Australia and New Zealand. At the time of writing, it has placed 5,000 digital learning resources online, including a wide range of Learning Objects relevant to Literacy, Numeracy, Science, Studies of Australia, Languages other than English, and Innovation, Enterprise, and Creativity. The scale of government commitment meant that the first round of Learning Objects made available to teachers on the Internet during 2003 were a critical testing ground for this technology. At the same time, extensive guidelines were put in place to ensure that all offerings would be accessible, usable, and have educational integrity with a learner focus, as outlined in the specifications for developers (The Learning Federation, 2002, 2006). Underlying this project was a definition of a Learning Object as

  • One or more files or “chunks” of material, which might consist of graphics, text, audio, animation, calculator or interactive notebook, designed to be used as a standalone learning experience

  • Reusable—a single learning object may be used in multiple contexts for multiple purposes such as across curriculum areas, year levels, different locales, and cultures

  • Usable as a component of a topic or unit of work alongside other digital and nondigital resources and tools

  • Accessible from the World Wide Web and is referenced, located, and accessed by its metadata descriptors

  • A product that can be identified, stored, and tracked using a content or learning management system (Lake, Phillips, Lowe, Cummings, Schibeci, & Miller, 2004, p. 1).



Duval, Hodgins, Rahak, and Robson (2004) noted that “few papers [about Learning Objects] included clear guidelines or methodologies, or analysed in any detail what had worked and how or why it worked” (p. 338). This chapter will consolidate the results of an Australasian study into the impact, application and effectiveness of Learning Objects developed for primary and secondary classroom teaching and learning (Lake et al., 2004; Schibeci, Lake, Phillips, Lowe, Cummings, & Miller, 2006).

The study arose from the early stages of a major government initiative to develop online digital content, and involved case studies of 20 classrooms in 14 schools in Australia and New Zealand.

The four main data collection activities were student observation, student interviews, student surveys, and teacher interviews and observation.

Researchers visited schools in pairs. They spent between 1 and 5 hours in each classroom. Students were observed using the learning object and then about half (based on parental permission) were interviewed. Teachers were also interviewed during or after the lesson. Surveys were administered to students and teachers. In several cases the teacher selected students according to characteristics they felt made them of special interest (for example, cultural background, non-English-speaking background, ADHD, reading or mathematics difficulties). The researchers made no representations in this area. Researchers observed students using a learning object in the context of a normal lesson and did not provide assistance unless students had significant difficulties getting the learning object to operate and directly requested assistance from the researcher. All classroom activity was tape-recorded and transcribed for later analysis.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Selection (Teacher and Resource): Selection in the sense used in this chapter is more than a teacher picking a lesson activity. It is a complex sequence of choices where the teacher must locate a source of Learning Objects, evaluate the range of available Objects for the intended purpose, and then decide on the viability of integrating that Object into a multifaceted teaching programme. Each step of this selection process implies evaluative judgement. In involves an evaluation of the physical availability of necessary software and hardware, as well as passwords and permission to download onto the system infrastructure. Selection involves reflective judgements by the teachers of their own intellectual skills in areas like Internet searching and understanding the presentation of metadata. It also involves an emotional response from the teacher that may be dependent on subject or computer literacy, available time, a sense of empowerment—or disempowerment, and a host of personal factors.

Pedagogy (Teacher and Student): Pedagogy has been used in this chapter to include all aspects of the ways in which teachers create learning environments in the classroom through an appropriate alignment of instructional strategies and styles of the teacher and the Learning Object. As such pedagogical concerns include all the choices that affect how the students can manipulate the learning materials to construct and reconstruct their conceptions in the classroom. In this manner it will include the social aspects of the learning purpose as conceived by the teacher and the students, and the way in which the resource either facilitates or hinders that purpose. While the social construction of learning is at the heart of the pedagogy, it cannot be seen in isolation. Also important is the manner in which the learning context is developed and directed. The context is the environment in which learning occurs and a learning environment is created around the resource by the programming of the teacher and the reactions of the students. The pedagogy will also include a component where the physical and cognitive skills of the students are recognised by the way that the teacher and the resource draw on them to facilitate the learning outcome.

Access (Student and Resource): Access in the sense used in this chapter is not simply how the student brings up the relevant Learning Object onto his or her screen. A Learning Object is accessible when students can easily locate the Object, are engaged by what they observe, can work through the learning opportunities it presents, and, through its use, achieve some desirable learning objective. This process has components, including the hardware, software, connectivity, and regulations within the educational system that provide the student with the physical access to the learning potential of the object. However, accessibility must also recognise the developmental nature of education, for example in the literacy or manipulative loads that are required of students if they are to learn from the Object. Finally, there is an important social equity component of access where the Learning Object must be usable by all targeted students in ways that recognise, for example, individual student’s culture, gender and special needs.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Table of Contents
Tom Carey
Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, Barry Harper
Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, Barry Harper
Chapter 1
Shirley Agostinho
The term “learning design” is gaining momentum in the e-learning literature as a concept for supporting academics to model and share teaching... Sample PDF
Learning Design Representations to Document, Model, and Share Teaching Practice
Chapter 2
Isobel Falconer, Allison Littlejohn
Practice models are generic approaches to the structuring and orchestration of learning activities for pedagogic purposes, intended to promote... Sample PDF
Representing Models of Practice
Chapter 3
Rob Koper, Yongwu Miao
IMS learning design (IMSLD) is an open standard that can be used to specify a wide range of pedagogical strategies in computer-interpretable models.... Sample PDF
Using the IMS LD Standard to Describe Learning Designs
Chapter 4
David Griffiths, Oleg Liber
The IMS LD specification is internally complex and has been used in a number of different ways. As a result users who have a basic understanding of... Sample PDF
Opportunities, Achievements, and Prospects for Use of IMS LD
Chapter 5
Franca Garzotto, Symeon Retalis
“A design pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that... Sample PDF
A Critical Perspective on Design Patterns for E-Learning
Chapter 6
Sherri S. Frizell, Roland Hübscher
Design patterns have received considerable attention for their potential as a means of capturing and sharing design knowledge. This chapter provides... Sample PDF
Using Design Patterns to Support E-Learning Design
Chapter 7
Peter Goodyear, Dai Fei Yang
This chapter provides an overview of recent research and development (R&D) activity in the area of educational design patterns and pattern... Sample PDF
Patterns and Pattern Languages in Educational Design
Chapter 8
Gráinne Conole
The chapter provides a theoretical framework for understanding learning activities, centering on two key aspects: (1) the capture and representation... Sample PDF
The Role of Mediating Artefacts in Learning Design
Chapter 9
Elizabeth Masterman
This chapter uses activity theory to construct a framework for the design and deployment of pedagogic planning tools. It starts by noting the impact... Sample PDF
Activity Theory and the Design of Pedagogic Planning Tools
Chapter 10
Barry Harper, Ron Oliver
This chapter describes the development of a taxonomy of learning designs based on a survey of 52 innovative ICT-using projects that formed the basis... Sample PDF
Developing a Taxonomy for Learning Designs
Chapter 11
Carmel McNaught, Paul Lam, Kin-Fai Cheng
The chapter will describe an expert review process used at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The mechanism used involves a carefully developed... Sample PDF
Using Expert Reviews to Enhance Learning Designs
Chapter 12
Matthew Kearney, Anne Prescott, Kirsty Young
This chapter reports on findings from a recent project situated in the area of preservice teacher education. The project investigated prospective... Sample PDF
Investigating Prospective Teachers as Learning Design Authors
Chapter 13
Paul Hazlewood, Amanda Oddie, Mark Barrett-Baxendale
IMS Learning Design (IMS LD) is a specification for describing a range of pedagogic approaches. It allows the linking of pedagogical structure... Sample PDF
Using IMS Learning Design in Educational Situations
Chapter 14
Robert McLaughlan, Denise Kirkpatrick
Decision-making processes in relation to complex natural resources require recognition and accommodation of diverse and competing perspectives in a... Sample PDF
Online Role-Based Learning Designs for Teaching Complex Decision Making
Chapter 15
Garry Hoban
Digital animations are complex to create and are usually made by experts for novices to download from Web sites or copy from DVDs and CDs to use as... Sample PDF
Facilitating Learner-Generated Animations with Slowmation
Chapter 16
Yongwu Miao, Daniel Burgos, David Griffiths, Rob Koper
Group interaction has to be meticulously designed to foster effective and efficient collaborative learning. The IMS Learning Design specification... Sample PDF
Representation of Coordination Mechanisms in IMS LD
Chapter 17
Johannes Strobel, Gretchen Lowerison, Roger Côté, Philip C. Abrami, Edward C. Bethel
In this chapter, we describe the process of modeling different theory-, research-, and best-practicebased learning designs into IMS-LD, a... Sample PDF
Modeling Learning Units by Capturing Context with IMS LD
Chapter 18
Daniel Burgos, Hans G.K. Hummel, Colin Tattersall, Francis Brouns, Rob Koper
This chapter presents some design guidelines for collaboration and participation in blended learning networks. As an exemplary network, we describe... Sample PDF
Design Guidelines for Collaboration and Participation with Examples from the LN4LD (Learning Network for Learning Design)
Chapter 19
Tom Boyle
This chapter argues that good design has to be at the heart of developing effective learning objects. It briefly outlines the “knowledge... Sample PDF
The Design of Learning Objects for Pedagogical Impact
Chapter 20
Margaret Turner
This chapter introduces an approach to writing content for online learning over networked media. It argues that few resources currently utilise the... Sample PDF
Visual Meaning Management for Networked Learning
Chapter 21
Christina Gitsaki
Due to the increasingly diverse student population in multicultural nations such as Australia, the U.S., Canada, and the UK, educators are faced... Sample PDF
Modification of Learning Objects for NESB Students
Chapter 22
Daniel Churchill, John Gordon Hedberg
The main idea behind learning objects is that they are to exist as digital resources separated from the learning task in which they are used. This... Sample PDF
Learning Objects, Learning Tasks, and Handhelds
Chapter 23
Peter Freebody, Sandy Muspratt, David McRae
The question addressed in this chapter is: What is the evidence for the effects of online programs of learning objects on motivation and learning?... Sample PDF
Technology, Curriculum, and Pedagogy in the Evaluation of an Online Content Program in Australasia
Chapter 24
David Lake, Kate Lowe, Rob Phillips, Rick Cummings, Renato Schibeci
This chapter provides a model to analyse the effectiveness and efficiency of Learning Objects being used in primary and secondary schools by... Sample PDF
Effective Use of Learning Objects in Class Environments
Chapter 25
Robert McCormick, Tomi Jaakkola, Sami Nurmi
Most studies on reusable digital learning materials, Learning Objects (LOs), relate to their use in universities. Few empirical studies exist to... Sample PDF
A European Evaluation of the Promises of LOs
Chapter 26
Tomi Jaakkola, Sami Nurmi
There has been a clear lack of rigorous empirical evidence on the effectiveness of learning objects (LOs) in education. This chapter reports the... Sample PDF
Instructional Effectiveness of Learning Objects
Chapter 27
Robert McCormick
This chapter will examine the approach taken in the evaluation of a large-scale feasibility trial of the production, distribution, and use of... Sample PDF
Evaluating Large-Scale European LO Production, Distribution, and Use
Chapter 28
John C Nesbit, Tracey L. Leacock
The Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI) is an evaluation framework designed to support collaborative critique of multimedia learning resources.... Sample PDF
Collaborative Argumentation in Learning Resource Evaluation
Chapter 29
Philippe Martin, Michel Eboueya
This chapter first argues that current approaches for sharing and retrieving learning objects or any other kinds of information are not efficient or... Sample PDF
For the Ultimate Accessibility and Reusability
Chapter 30
Sue Bennett, Dominique Parrish, Geraldine Lefoe, Meg O’Reilly, Mike Keppell, Robyn Philip
As the notion of learning objects has grown in popularity, so too has interest in how they should be stored to promote access and reusability. A key... Sample PDF
A Needs Analysis Framework for the Design of Digital Repositories in Higher Education
Chapter 31
William Bramble, Mariya Pachman
Reusable learning objects (LOs) constitute a promising approach to the development of easily accessible, technologically sound, and curriculum... Sample PDF
Costs and Sustainability of Learning Object Repositories
Chapter 32
Kristine Elliott, Kevin Sweeney, Helen Irving
This chapter reports the authors’ experiences of developing a learning design to teach scientific inquiry, of integrating the learning design with... Sample PDF
A Learning Design to Teach Scientific Inquiry
Chapter 33
Lisa Lobry de Bruyn
This chapter explores through a case study approach of a tertiary-level unit on Land Assessment for Sustainable Use, the connections between three... Sample PDF
Adapting Problem-Based Learning to an Online Learning Environment
Chapter 34
Tan Wee Chuen, Baharuddin Aris, Mohd Salleh Abu
This chapter aims to guide the readers through the design and development of a prototype Web-based learning system based on the integration of... Sample PDF
Learning Objects and Generative Learning for Higher Order Thinking
Chapter 35
Sebastian Foti
The author describes the work of Dr. Mary Budd Rowe and the establishment of an early learning object databases. Extensive training with K-12... Sample PDF
Applying Learning Object Libraries in K-12 Settings
Chapter 36
L. K. Curda, Melissa A. Kelly
We present guidelines for designing and developing a repository for the storage and exchange of instructional resources, as well as considerations... Sample PDF
Guidelines for Developing Learning Object Repositories
Chapter 37
Sandra Wills, Anne McDougall
This study tracks the uptake of online role play in Australia from 1990 to 2006 and the affordances to its uptake. It examines reusability, as one... Sample PDF
Reusability of Online Role Play as Learning Objects or Learning Designs
Chapter 38
Lori Lockyer, Lisa Kosta, Sue Bennett
Health professional education is changing to meet the demands of a limited workforce and a focus on community-based clinical training. The change... Sample PDF
An Analysis of Learning Designs that Integrate Patient Cases in Health Professions Education
Chapter 39
Mohan Chinnappan
The shift in the way we visualise the nature of mathematics and mathematics learning has presented educational technologists with new challenges in... Sample PDF
Reconceptualisation of Learning Objects as Meta-Schemas
Chapter 40
Henk Huijser
This chapter provides an in depth discussion of the issues involved in integrating learning design and learning objects into generic Web sites. It... Sample PDF
Designing Learning Objects for Generic Web Sites
Chapter 41
Morag Munro, Claire Kenny
E-learning standards are a contentious topic amongst educators, designers, and researchers engaged in the development of learning objects and... Sample PDF
Standards for Learning Objects and Learning Designs
Chapter 42
Eddy Boot, Luca Botturi, Andrew S. Gibbons, Todd Stubbs
In developing modern instructional software, learning designs are used to formalize descriptions of roles, activities, constraints, and several... Sample PDF
Supporting Decision Making in Using Design Languages for Learning Designs and Learning Objects
Chapter 43
Gilbert Paquette, Olga Mariño, Karin Lundgren-Cayrol, Michel Léonard
This chapter summarizes the work on instructional engineering and educational modeling accomplished since 1992 at the LICEF Research Center of... Sample PDF
Principled Construction and Reuse of Learning Designs
About the Contributors