The creation of standardized contents for use in the different modes of learning: face-to-face, blended and / or virtual learning is crucial in XXI century universities. The Learning Objects (LO) approach aims to facilitate the design of small units of content that can be combined and reused in different courses and in this way take advantage of the development of educational programs and materials.

According to the Learning Technology Standards Comitee (LTSC) of IEEE, the term "learning object" (LO) is defined as any entity, digital or non-digital, that may be used for learning, education or training, and may also be reused or referenced in a learning context supported by technologies. Thus, a LO is an instructional module that has the following four characteristics:

  • It is reusable: it can be easily contextualized according to the specific needs of the teaching-learning process and is adaptable to the needs of a particular course, unit or module.
  • It is flexible: it can be easily modified and updated. 
  • It is accessible and interoperable: it is independent of the technologies used and the operating system (multi-platform).

In the VCPH, although aligned with the characteristics established by the LTSC, a LO is defined as any digital or non-digital object that has an educational purpose in a specific context, regardless of its inner qualities.

Learning objects (LO) are classified taking into account their educational use and levels of granularity:

According to their educational use

  • Instructional objects: articles, workshops, seminars, case studies, etc.
  • Collaboration objects: forums, chat, Elluminate/Collaborate, online meetings, etc.
  • Practice objects: simulations, software, online labs, research projects, etc.
  • Assessment/evaluation objects: partial evaluation, final certification, etc.

According to the granularity levels (N1, N2, N3, N4)

Granularity is another feature that applies to learning objects within the context of education, which is related to reusability. Granularity refers to the possibilty offered by a learning object to determine which of the educational elements that are a part of it can retain their qualities in the case they are separated from the context of the original learning object as a whole.

The concept of granularity refers specifically to the dimensions that a LO can have, which directly influence its educational reusability. The smaller the object, the easier it will be to combine with others and therefore more reusable.

According to the IEEE-LOM, there are four levels of granularity.

N1. It is the smallest level of aggregation, a unit for learning. For example, a chest X-ray image, multimedia elements or fragments. (Applicable to material apparently indivisible, such as a PDF file, etc.).

N2. A collection of educational objects of level 1, a learning unit (lesson) on acute respiratory infections with radiological images. For example, a collection of atomic materials (an HTML file with images).

N3. A collection of level 2 learning objects, for example, a modular unit or course of respiratory syndromes. For example, two or more materials of level 2, collection of lessons on acute respiratory infections from different sources, a website made up of multiple HTML documents.

N4. The higher level of granularity. For example, a set of courses for a diploma or degree. (Diploma, Masters).

NOTE- Objects of Level 4 can contain objects of Level 3. They may also be formed by other objects of level 4 recursively.

Learning Object Metadata Standard IEEE-LOM