What are learning objects?
The broadest definition of learning objects seems to be, "any digital resource that can be reused to support learning."
According to LOAZ, "There are many characteristics of learning objects, the common ones are: accessibility, interoperability, adaptability, reusability, durability, and granularity."
What role do learning objects play in Moodle? If we accept that any reusable, digital resource can be a learning object, almost any resource or activity we use in Moodle qualifies. After all, you can import and export resources and activities between courses pretty easily.
Creating Learning Objects with Moodle
Consider the book module. Perhaps you have created a Moodle book about the fall of the Berlin Wall for a history course you are teaching. If you permit a German instructor at your school to import that book into one of his or her courses, then your book has met the criteria of a learning object. It is digital, portable and reusable.
The same can be said of resources created with a glossary, a wiki, and other modules.
Uploading Learning Objects to Moodle
Is a PowerPoint presentation a learning object that we can upload and use in Moodle? It would seem so. The same can be said of a text document, an image, a self-contained web site, and any other digital teaching resource that you create. If it is reusable, it is probably a learning object. This would include the simplest annotated image and the most sophisticated interactive multimedia resource.
If you can upload a resource to your Moodle site and use it in more than one course, it is a learning object. Of course, if the learning object is already on the Web, you may choose to link to it. Think of a YouTube movie or a SlideShare presentation.
Additonal Learning Object Considerations
But what about metadata and SCORM? What about tracing student learning? And don't learning objects have to be housed in a searchable repository? These and other considerations are discussed by experts, but do not yet seem to have been resolved.