Every time the term "learning object" is mentioned in any education/technology discussion forum, it seems a question of what is learning object is inevitable. In his Buntine Oration, Stephen pointed out the early visions of promoting re-usable, small chunk of content being used to support learning. Early effort, including EOE foundation back in 1996 has started to collect "learning object" in the form of Java Applets. There were over 2600 Java applets for educators to use, mostly freely. However, it seems to me that this website has been neglected for a while now.
I argued that if we use the word "learning" in "learning object", the object must have something to do with learning. Conversely, if we use the word "object", the "learning object" must have some characteristics of "object". We wrote:
The issues of reuse, grain size, technical properties or even the basic question of "what is a learning object?" are not central issues in the education community.
So, if the technologists are bringing a concept from another field (computer science/software engineering) into this argument, I would have expected that the term will come over with all its previous researches and things learnt. Here, let me just briefly list out those elements which are essential in an object-oriented programming paradigm:
The closest definition I have seen to possess these object qualities and are designed with the intent to be used in a teaching and learning environment is SCO in SCORM. Still ADL prefers to call them "shareable content object" and NOT "learning object". SCOs are lived in a browser (well defined host), with a standard interface to communicate with the host (actually via the host to the back-end LMS). But up to now, the SCORM specification still limits the launching of only ONE SCO at a time, i.e. SCOs cannot co-exist within the container to co-operate to do one job.
The key refection I have when I read Stephen's Buntine Oration is:
Should we put the term "learning object" to rest and return back to use the more accurate and appropriate terms such as learning resource, teaching resource or just resource? If we truly believe in the value offered by the OOP, may be we should get serious about defining and agreeing on a term and improve on it.