The use of learning objects, such as videos, interactive games, and tutorials, has become increasingly popular in online vocational education. Used to reinforce concepts, to allow students to review subject matter, and to help students become more adept at procedural tasks, learning objects can enhance learning in online environments. This chapter presents an overview of learning objects, framed in a study that resulted in an instrument that can be used for student evaluation of learning objects. Also included is a discussion of the future of learning objects in online vocational education.
The study described in this chapter was conducted in a kinesiology online course offered to Occupational Therapy Assistant students (N=20) at a technical college during the spring 2006 semester. The structure of the course included 15 modules of online instruction, optional one-hour open labs held each week when there was a scheduled on-campus proctored exam, online discussion groups, and online quizzes. The open lab was designed primarily for students to review and clarify content, and for hands-on demonstration prior to taking an exam.
Students were given surveys asking their opinion of the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of the learning object created for each module. Students enrolled in the online course completed a survey instrument to evaluate each learning object embedded within each module during the course of the semester. Students were given these surveys after each unit of instruction. The survey was customized specifically for the type of learning object used. All survey questions were the same, with the exception of the type of learning object noted on the survey.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Efficiency: The amount of time spent on the successful use of the learning object (or effectiveness) compared to the benefit received by the learner.
Evaluate: To make a judgment on the worth or merit of something.
Survey Research: Data obtained from members of a group or sample to establish the status of that group in relationship to one or more variables (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2001).
Learning Object: A small unit of digital educational materials that can be used flexibly and in a variety of formats (e.g., videos, interactive games, and tutorials) to enhance online lessons.
Appeal: A measure of how well the learner liked or enjoyed the learning object.
Kinesiology: The study of movements of the body with emphasis on muscle structure and function.
Effectiveness: How well the learning object worked in meeting its educational goals.