What makes a great learning object?

An emphasis on engagement is what Lowe et al. (2010) report as being key to the success of learning objects.  What is going to drive engagement for students with learning objects?  What visual and usability aspects are going to determine the success of a learning object in facilitating achievement of learning outcomes?  In Lowe et al. (2010), “Frydenberg, Ainley and Russell (2005, p. 2) define engagement as ‘energy in action, the connection between person and activity’ and indicate that ‘students will engage with tasks they find interesting, challenging and important’” (p. 229).

For me, a learning object should be the following things:

  • A good balance of visuals and text, more visuals preferably
  • Linear navigation, with transparent links
  • Clear links to curriculum and 21st century skills
  • Practical and easily applicable to something further

What a learning object should NOT be is:

  • A completely text-heavy activity
  • Complex set of hyperlinks to a variety of different areas
  • A long set of pages that do not flow or seem to work towards developing knowledge or understanding, or a specific outcome
  • A collection of videos and images that do not correlate to a common purpose

I feel that a learning object need not be much more than learning outcomes, a brief contextual/content outline, a multimedia file, and reflection activity.  This, in my online learning experiences, is very effective and follows Bloom’s taxonomy as well.

References
Lowe, K., Lee, L., Schibeci, R., Cummings, R., Phillips, R., & Lake, D. (2010). Learning objects and engagement of students in Australian and New Zealand schools. British Journal of Educational Technology41(2), 227-241.

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