The Conceptualization, Utilization, Benefts and Adoption of Learning Objects
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Learning objects have received attention because of their potential to improve current methods of teaching and learning. Despite perceived importance, there has been lack of studies that examine the use of learning objects across various contexts. In response, this study examined the actual use of learning objects and their perceptions among Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) practitioners in U.S. This study was based on the data from 191 IDT practitioners from various sectors, including higher education, business, government, and K-12. The study results contribute to the body of knowledge on learning objects in terms of four areas: conceptualization, utilization, benefits, and adoption. First, the study results should allay the concern that the conceptualization of learning objects focuses too much on technical aspects. IDT practitioners emphasized both technical and learning aspects in conceptualizing learning objects. In conclusion, the present study laid the foundation for a working definition of learning objects. Second, the study showed that IDT practitioners were utilizing learning objects to empower learners to have control over their own learning. The current study identified design strategies that IDT practitioners were frequently using. The most frequently utilized strategy was the provision of concrete, authentic examples and problems. Along with design strategies, this study identified the frequently adopted granularity levels: assets, combined media, one complete instructional unit, lesson or module, and course. Combined media, which consists of content and optional media, was the most frequently utilized granularity level of the five levels. The study provided empirical data to help determine formal design strategies and optimal granularity levels in utilizing learning objects based on the frequent use among IDT practitioners. Third, this study filled the research gap on the benefits of learning objects from an IDT perspective. Study results showed that IDT practitioners were positive about the overall benefits for the ID process, along with reusability and the support for the motivation and interactivity features. However, they were less convinced of the time and cost savings. Generally, IDT practitioners were satisfied with the benefits of learning objects. Fourth, the present study improved the understanding of the adoption status of learning objects. Currently, many of the participants' organizations were adopting or exploring the implementation of learning objects. The adoption of learning objects has a promising future, as IDT practitioners were positive about their organizations' intentions to use learning objects in the future. At the individual level, IDT practitioners were found to use learning objects for their professional role and across various projects. As an adoption factor, IDT practitioners showed the positive reactions to learning objects' perceived usefulness.
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