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What are Learning Objects?
What are the benefits of Learning Objects?
How to use Learning Objects? For learning? For teaching?
   
What are Learning Objects?
   
A 'Learning Object' (LO) is a small independent digital resource that contains an objective, a learning activity and an assessment.  

   Objective: These learning objectives specify the intended criterion-based outcome of the learner after they go through the learning activity. For example, an objective of an OSCAR LO on Amino Acids: the building blocks of protein is - After interacting with this LO, learners should be able to explain isomerism and acid-base properties of amino acids.

                 

   Learning Activity: These are activities within the LO that a learner engages in, to meet the learning objective. In the learning activity in the LO on 'Isomerism in Amino acids' section of the LO, a learner can drag and drop 6 different amino acids from a given list into the correct amino acid category-Non-polar, aliphatic; aromatic polar uncharged and get immediate feedback on the correctness of the answer.

                 

   Assessment: A set of questions for the learner to self-evaluate the knowledge or skills gained from the activities. The assessment question should determine if the objectives have been met. In the "Amino acids" LO, the assessment questions present under the 'Quiz' tab.

                 
   
Learning objects are a new way of thinking about learning content. Traditionally, content comes in a several hour chunk. Learning objects are much smaller units of learning, typically ranging from 2 minutes to 15 minutes of learning time. These LOs are self-contained, that is, each learning object is stand-alone resource. LOs are intended to be reusable, that is, a single learning object may be used in multiple contexts for multiple purposes.  
   
Characteristics of OSCAR Learning Objects:   

   Learners have control of navigation and are able to explore various parts of the LO according to their own goals, interests and pace.
   Multiple representations of physical phenomena are included so that learners having a variety of learning styles can benefit.
   Manipulation of variables is allowed so that learners are able to discover and test relationships.
   
Benefits of OSCAR LOs    

   Reusable in multiple settings.
   Intuitive user interface
   Self paced learning.
   Addresses a variety of learning styles.
   Instantaneous feedback.
   Source code is available to the users.
   
How to use OSCAR Learning Objects?   
   
OSCAR LOs can be used in different instructional settings like face-to-face classrooms, distance education and for self-study by students. Given below are some of the suggested ways of using LOs, for teachers and students.  
   
TEACHING-LEARNING IN A CLASSROOM SETTING   
   
Method 1 - LO as a learning aid in the classroom   

   Description of method:
The instructor shows the relevant part of the LO while teaching the topic in class. This will help the students visualize the concept. The students can interact with the entire LO again outside the classroom. The classroom should be equipped with standard audio-visual equipment.  

   Where will it work well :
It will work well in an instructional setting where working of experiments has to be demonstrated. Students can become familiar with experimental procedures without a wet lab demonstration. Visualizations are useful for topics involving motion, trajectory of motion, and invisible components (such as atoms, cells, fields).  

   Known problems:
Students cannot individually work with the LO in classroom. Also, students often may not view the full LO outside the classroom.  
   
Method 2 - LO as self-study material, as part of a regular lecture-based course    

   Description of method:
The instructor shows the relevant part of the LO while teaching the topic in class. This will help the students visualize the concept. The students can interact with the entire LO again outside the classroom. The classroom should be equipped with standard audio-visual equipment.  

   Where will it work well :
Such a method is suitable to encourage computer mediated collaborative study. It will work well if students have access to individual computers (such as in a computer lab or at home).  

   Known problems:
The instructor does not have control over which students view the LO, and to what extent they interact with it.  
   
Method 3 - LO as a learning aid to a problem-solving or experimental activity   

   Description of method:
After a topic is introduced in a class such as a problem-solving tutorial or lab, students are allowed to interact with the LO individually for some period (say, 20 minutes in a 1-hour problem-solving session). They are then given a problem solving activity to solve on the topic. Or, they perform an experiment related to the LO.  

   Where will it work well :
This method will work well in instructional settings where classrooms have adequate audio-visual equipment and each student or a small group of students has access to a computer. This method is suitable for collaborative work. Since students interact with the LOs on their own, this method is appropriate for inquiry-based learning approaches.  

   Known problems:
A classroom or lab that will provide computer access to a large number of students may be difficult to find. The instructor needs to budget more teaching time for teaching a topic.  
   
TEACHING-LEARNING IN A DISTANCE-EDUCATION SETTING   
Method 4 - LO in distance education   

   Description of method:
The instructor uses the LO for teaching the topic in distance education mode. This will help the students better visualize the concept. For topics displaying an experimental setup, this enables the students in the remote centres to understand the procedure without visiting the wet labs. The students can be asked to do a self-study with the LO and complete the assessment questionnaire within the LO.  

   Where will it work well :
It will work well in distance education, specially where working of experiments have to be demonstrated. It will help the students visualize concepts better.  

   Known problems:
Common transmission problems associated with distance education may exist.  

   Possible alternate solutions:
Method 2, similar to LO use in face-to-face settings.  
   
SELF-PACED LEARNING FOR STUDENTS   
Method 1: LO for Self-Study    

   Description of method:
A student can learn a topic on their own through OSCAR LOs. These LOs contain an interactive animation or simulation based on the topic. In addition, the LO contains:  
         Learning Objectives - What knowledge and skills a student is expected to demonstrate after interacting with the LO  
         Interactivity- A student can interact with the LO to test their comprehension  
         Glossary - Containing definition of keywords used in the animation  
         References - Books/ Articles/ URLs to refer to, in order to learn more about the topic  
         Quiz - Containing multiple choice questions to do a self-assessment, and feedback based on student responses.  
         Audio transcript - for explanation of the process shown in the animation, if speakers are unavailable.  

   Where will it work well :
This method is ideal for self-study and will work particularly well with distance education students.  

   Known problems:
Technical problems may exist, though we have taken utmost care to prevent such occurrences.  
   
Method 2: LO as learning support to classroom lecture   

   Description of method:
A student can refer to the LO to further their understanding of a topic taught in class. These LOs contain an interactive animation or simulation based on the topic, plus a host of other features built specially for students. To know about these features, please refer to Method 1 section for students (see above).  

   Where will it work well :
This method is ideal for blended learning. Students can do a self-assessment of their understanding and clear their doubts through the interactive animation, quiz and feedback.  

   Known problems:
Technical problems may exist, though we have taken utmost care to prevent such occurrences.  
   
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