Downes (2001) – Learning Objects: Resources for distance education
This article was written at a time when learning objects and associated concepts such as the SCORM standards were relatively new.
Downes uses a basic economic argument to demonstrate that rather than creating identical tools to teach identical content within every institution, content should be produced once and able to be shared and reused.
He describes the now well-known standards of IMS and SCORM and how they sought to tackle reusability and interoperability. For object data, he identifies HTML as a common authoring language but predicts (rightly) that specific tools will become more widely-used for particular course authoring purposes such as setting up quizzes.
He also covers the challenges faced at the time with multimedia – storage capacity and access to the right software were larger constraints then than now.
His vision is of vast repositories of objects which are open to educational instututions to teach core material in a way which is economically viable.
Elements of his vision have come true but learning objects did not materialise in exactly the way he predicts and this may be because they were driven more by technological expedience than pedagogical excellence.