I’ve done a number of workshops demo-ing how to search various learning object “repositories” and invariably deal with the question, “Why don’t we just do a Google search?”.
Strangely, having built one sort of similar system myself, I am asking the same question.
Stephen Downes today shared the announcement of the Commonwealth of Learning’s Learning Object Repository being released, “An online database of learning content that provides software to Commonweath countries free of charge” and the software was being made available as well.. sounds interesting enough to click around.
Hitting the technical documentation, you get alphabet soup explanations:
The COL Learning Object Repository (or in short COL LOR) integrates eRIB and pakXchange such that the local repository of eRIB is disabled and replaced with pakXchange, and pakXchange is modified to act as an EduSource node for the purpose of searching.
Easy for you to say… what the heck is all that?
So then I thought, give the thing a whirl and see what I can figure this does. Now I am looking at the eRIB “eduSource Repository-In-A-Box” (Yikes, hope that fares better then the long gone “Web Course In a Box!”).
But apparently it lets you do “federated” searches, or searches for learning objects across multiple sites. I tried some real simple queries to generates lots of results. Unfortunately, not taking the cue from Google in that search results produce retrievable URLs, I cannot easily link you to what I saw. But I ran three searches on:
Hoping to see some learning objects, what I found is that 95% of the results are simply links to web pages, many of them course syllabi  , in some cases images , pages not found   , this page has moved  , a thesaurus 
Yes, an unscientific sampling, and perhaps I misunderstand the purpose of this site is more to demonstrate the search technology than the content.
But if these are the learning objects that are meant be “reusable” chunks of content, I am totally mystified as to what this giant piece of technology has created- a keyword search engine that finds web sites, and pretty meta data for web sites (many of which do not exist any more).
If that is the case, we ought to just use Google, eh?