My Left Big Toe is a Learning Object

When ever a discussion turns to “defining learing objects” my attention span goes out the door. With more than 500,000 Google-hits (link above), it is not any more clear what a LO is.

The “Learning Object Virtual Community Of Practice” bears the cheery acronym LOVCOP, but it has been a ghost town since summer 2003. The virtual tumbleweds are blowing down main street and the saloon is slient.

But I have read some things recently where it seems that almost any multimedia lesson created, any web page, every single flash goober, seems to bear the hot label of a”learning object.” Therefore, I proclaim that everything that exists is a learning object, including my left big toe, so we can drop the silly jargon and move on to what counts…

Okay, so that did not fly so well. But just because something is created on a computer to support learning– is that a learning object? If the “re-use” of it means more or less it is just a web site that I can link to, is that really a learning object? How can my big left toe be re-contextualized by others?

This musing is coming up because this Friday we are introducing the Pachyderm project to our faculty by one a one day Pachyderm: Building Meaningful Content with Learning Objects ‘Dialogue Day’. By design, we are going to avoid all usage of the jargon, and if anything, we might refer to the digital nuggets as “digital assets”. More details will appear on the site later for the activity we are providing, but it is more focussed on the planning, storyboarding, and concept development of an activity that could be built with the Pachyderm screen templates, than next to move to the thought into what digital “big toes” might be needed.

We are hoping that our audience can see the richness of the Pachyderm created content from SFMOMA, appreciate the richness of the delivery, the non-linear exploration that occurs there, the way content is wrapped inlayers of relations and external contexts… and translate the possibility of the examples from the Art field to their onw disciplines.

Maybe a stretchm, but we think that any subject area can have a use for the interactive timeline in Pachyderm.

In some ways it is fortunate that the Pachyderm software is not quite available for us to use on this first event– so we can try and avoid the questions that get bogged down on the technology andkeep it at a high level of thought as to what our faculty would like to do and create once the tool exists (we are banking on somethinf being available for our follow-up hands on event April 23, do you hear that D’Arcy? ;-)

To be continued… and someone please stop re-using my left big toe, even if you really think it is a learning object.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. yeah… I hear that… ;-) we’ve got some very specific requirements to meet as a result of this week’s meeting, so that will help.

    and, i remember Stephen Downes presenting on learning objects one time, insisting that a crumpled kleenex is a learning object, to someone, in some context…

  2. Yes, but the meta-data on the grain of sand! Is that true DC but not SCORM compliant, with IEEE underpinnings?

    Me thinks the paw stepped in some cow pies.

  3. In my brief flirtation with library school (which they call something much sexier now), my cataloging prof said that the generic term for the books, etc. that we were to learn to catalog was “information objects”. Same thing?

    I always thought that the term “information object” was as imperfect as the ones it was intended to replace. It implied that what our patrons and users wanted from library resources was “information”. An experience — say reading a novel, to name the most commonplace example — could be so much more than the “information” contained in the object. (Or less, depending on your point of view.)

  4. “information objects” ugh- talk about vague over-classification! It informarion made of tiny little bits of information atoms? Look out soon for “experience objects,” “knowledge objects,” “memory objects”… I am running out of toes!

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