QUESTIONS: Some people believe that open educational resources "fix" many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. Why do you think they would say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
There are lots of different definitions for learning objects so far. Those definitions differ due to different purposes. Though there are dozens of definitions suggested, slight difference existing in them. Merrill prefers the term knowledge object, Gibbons prefers the instructional object, etc. Wiley suggests the definition that “any digital resource that can be reused to support learning.”
Learning objects can be used for quick instruction or incorporation into an online education curriculum. Learning objects that are digital, re-usable pieces of content can be used to accomplish a learning objective. A learning object could be a text document, a movie, a mp3, a picture or maybe even a website. Describing why something is a learning object and in what context a person might learn something from it will be important.
I agree that open educational resources fix some of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. I think people think that the concept of OER supplement the weak parts of learning objects, and make learning objects much more fit into the online learning environments we have today. As we understand, Open Educational Resources are defined as “technology enabled, open provision of educational resources for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes.” OER include learning objects such as lecture material, references and readings, simulations, experiments and demonstrations, as well as syllabi, curricula and teachers’ guides. From the definition we can find that learning objects are viewed as part of OER.
Learning objects have some weaknesses which do not fit the modern approaches to teaching and learning. As we know, the more context a learning object has, the more a learner can learn from it. However, the smaller learning objects are, the more likely it is that only humans will be able to assemble them into meaningful instruction. That is, the internal context of learning objects impact the way that they are used. The more specific the internal context of the object, the fewer instructional contexts into which it will fit. Decontextualizatio is one of the weaknesses behind learning objects. Wiley suggests the use of learning object use is better described a “contextualization.” Context should be taken account into learning because decontextualized educational resources does not produce a meaningful context for learning though it seems decontextualized learning objects work more well for economically sensibly. OER pays attention to the influences of cultural, historical, and institutional settings. Contextualiztion is embedded in the idea of OER, and it supplements the weak part of learning objects.
Usually, learning objects are used as content chunks or information containers. Wiley indicates that learning objects are just like a megaphone with large information, not mediator. It is useless for learning objects just to provide lots of information or knowledge. What more important during learning is how to use learning objects as semiotic tools that are able to mediate and shape learner actions. That is, learning resources can not be isolated from the online learning environments. Learning objects should not be used out of context, and should be part of mediational actions, just as OER pay attention to properly utilizing educational resources which satisfy the needs of learners and fit the context with a variety of cultures. Similarly, as the concept proposed by Wiley that “any digital resource that can be reused to mediate learning,” it is better for learning objects to be mediators.
Learning objects are designed for learners in independent use or learning. Little chance of communication or interaction is delivered. Learners are just like passive receivers of a large amount of information or knowledge, but don’t know how to grasp them efficiently or effectively. No worldview can be observed in this kind of the isolated learning processes which preclude learners from other learners. In contrast, OER emphasize the importance of collaborative learning, and it encourages interactive dialogues among learners. Under this ideal of OER, learners are not oppressive to accept any learning information provided by learning objects. Conversely, learners can understand how these learning objects make sense to them, and connect them to the life experiences during communication with other learners.
Copyright will be another vital issue for learning objects. OER are licensed with open-source-style licenses, such as Creative Commons licenses or GFDL. Under the concept of OER, each of millions of learning objects “everything from modules to textbooks to courses” is licensed with CC or GFDL. The use of learning objects will be aggregated or adapted by users without worrying about the license or transaction costs. So the idea of license of OER also fix the copyright problem that might happen in learning objects.