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LEARNING OBJECTS: BETWEEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

R. Morales Gamboa, M.E. Chan Núñez

Universidad de Guadalajara (MEXICO)
The general interest in learning objects have decayed in the last ten years. This approach to produce, organise and manage educational content set off to model any educational content as a collection of one or more learning object, yet it could not go beyond an extremely basic conception of learning objects that did not distinguish them from other educational contents —as anything could be a learning object, everything could be build with them. Specifications, standards, and reference models have been proposed to construct, package, identify, and operate learning objects, adding a level of complexity to the production of educational content that became a serious obstacle to the production of large quantities of learning objects, and did not pay back in terms of establishing an accepted common framework for the organisation and management of educational content.

In our paper we present an alternative vision of learning objects as elements in a scale from educational content to learning environments, precisely at the inflection point from content to software. From this viewpoint, learning objects are part of an educational ecosystem in which they have specific purposes: delivering educational content to the students, interact with them, observe their behaviour, provide necessary scaffolding, and feed information about the whole process back to the learning environment. They are the agents delivered to the client system (e.g. laptop, tablet, smartphone) to support learning closely. Although these learning objects share some common characteristics with previous learning objects (e.g. they are rather small, independent, focus on small learning goals), and they can be aggregate to conform large collections that support learning of large sets of competences, they are not build to that, nor provide the foundations to build educational content, but make use of educational content to achieve their purpose.

We provide a description of the elements of the scale (information resources, educational content, learning objects, educational tools, scenarios, and learning environments), including their purpose in the educational ecosystem, with special attention to redefining the concept of learning objects on the lines described above.