Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

What You Should Know about “Learning Object” – Part I

In 1994 Wayne Hodgins coined the term “learning object” – One role of learning objects in the history of OER is its popularization of the idea that digital materials can be designed and produced in such a manner as to be reused easily in a variety of pedagogical situations.

The concept of learning object is relevant in creating open content, it needs to be easy to break a collection of resources up into its component parts. No too much work is needed to disassemble the resources so that no barrier is placed between people and information. People can easily find and use the right pieces of content when they need them. In some articles you might have heard of the importance of granularity of learning content. It helps to enhance reusability and visibility of any resource. For mobile learning design, it’s recommended to build content into bite-size chunks because it’s easier to digest for “learning on the move”. To implement all these concepts of disassembling learning content should start from understanding “what is a learning objective?”

From Reusable Learning, the terms are clarified :

Learning Object : In the Learnativity content model a Learning Object is a collection of Information Objects that are assembled to teach a single learning objective.

Information Object : A text passage, Web page(s), applet, etc. that focuses on a single piece of information. It might explain a concept, illustrate a principle, or describe a process. [Single] exercises are often considered to be information objects.

The term learning objective (used to define a learning object) is an instructional design concept that derives from the work of Robert Frank Mager ( Mager, 1997 ), Robert Gagne ( Gagne, 1985 ), Walter Dick and Lou Carey ( Dick & Carey, 1996 ) and others. A learning objective is a single measurable (or verifiable) step on the way to a learning goal. Learning objectives say what a learner is expected to do or learn and how an acceptable level of achievement will be verified. They can come from the psychomotor, affective and cognitive domains and can range from knowledge and comprehension to synthesis and evaluation (see Bloom’s taxonomy ( Bloom, 1956 )).

The following is a useful article – the 5th article of a series  from dominKnow Knowledge Base.

An objective defines in specific terms what a learner must do or accomplish as a result of learning.

It will typically describe the conditions, the behavior, and the standard for successful completion:

  • Conditions: Under what conditions should the learner be able to perform the task (e.g. with what tools and in what environment)?
  • Behavior: What should the learner be able to do? What is the task to be accomplished or the knowledge to be gained?
  • Standard: What is the criteria for successful completion? How well should the learner be able to perform in terms of time, completion, accuracy, etc.?

Types of learning objectives

  • A learning objective (or performance, instructional, or behavioral objective) describes what learners will be able to do when they successfully complete a learning activity (a course or part of a course).
  • An enabling objective describes something learners must do to show accomplishment towards the course or terminal objective.
  • A terminal objective (or course objective) describes what the learner will be able to do at the end of the training course.

learning object

Benefits of writing learning objectives

Writing clear learning objectives for your training helps in the development and evaluation of the training program.

There are three major benefits:

  1. Guidelines and structure: Once learning objectives have been developed (based on job expectations and task analysis), the instructional designer can make sure that the content of the objectives is addressed in the training program.
  2. Measurable goals: The learner will know the expectations for successful completion of the training and what they should focus on during the training.
  3. Evaluation: Learning objectives can be used to measure the success of the training program and the progress of the learner. Using learning objectives, designers know exactly what to test for in post course assessments. If at the end of training, learners cannot perform tasks as specified in the objectives, then some adjustment of the training may be required.

How to create learning objectives

  1. Create a list of tasks and behaviors that you want addressed by the training and break each of these down to single objectives.
  2. Add conditions to each objective.
  3. Add the criteria or standard for success.
  4. Craft each objective into a grammatically correct sentence. Use active verbs that accurately address the appropriate learning domain.

photo credit: wildxplorer via photopin cc


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7 Responses »

  1. I’m afraid this is quite a hazy article. The text is difficult to follow, and at a point is shifts from ‘a learning object’ into talking about ‘learning objectives’. These are very different concepts or things – an object is a thing, an objective is a concept. So what is it all about?

    • Thanks for pointing out the confusion, the definition of terms has been added into the post. Sorry !!

      • Thanks, the definitions make it much more understandable. It is still problematic what is meant by “so that no barrier placed between people and information.” Perhaps ‘is placed’? I am also quite uncertain about the meaning of “it’s easier to catch for learning on the move.” Catch what for learning?? In comparison, “build content into bite-size chunks” is only a minor problem – how do we build sg into chunks instead of breaking a big thing down into chunks? But it still is disturbing understanding.


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
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