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Learning Objects to Enrich Your Classroom. WEMA/Brainstorm 2006 March 7, 2006 Susan Cramer -- UW Oshkosh JoAnn Carr -- UW Madison. http://asimov.coehs.uwosh.edu/~cramer/. What are learning objects?.

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learning objects to enrich your classroom

Learning Objects to Enrich Your Classroom

WEMA/Brainstorm 2006

March 7, 2006

Susan Cramer -- UW Oshkosh

JoAnn Carr -- UW Madison


what are learning objects
What are learning objects?

Instructional materials found on the Internet that can be used to illustrate, support, supplement or assess student learning.

They are small in size, and can take on a variety of different shapes, formats, and purposes.

For example…..

They could be a picture of the water cycle….




Or, a website with all sorts of references….

Sea World

A great site for information on marine mammals, other animals, fish, birds or ecosystems




Materials should be short in duration, 2-15 minutes in length, and should be used to support the understanding of a concept or process.

For example… a short video clip of how hydrogen fuel cells work.


They may also include reference articles, statistical data, or first person accounts.



When and how did your family arrive here?


http www ushmm org

Introduction to the Holocaust

Holocaust Encyclopedia

What is Genocide?

Personal Histories

Mapping the Holocaust

Online Exhibitions

Special Focus

Museum Exhibitions

Traveling Exhibitions


The common thread to all these instructional materials is they support student learning, are available on the Internet, and can be used in a variety of contexts depending upon the intended learning outcomes.

They likewise can be used by multiple people in multiple locations simultaneously, and can be accessed over and over without time or location constraints.

They can be presented to an entire class but their true power comes when individual students access the materials to support their current learning needs.

What did the teacher say today about mitosis? I know, I can go to these websites and review the concept myself until I understand it!


meiosis, mitosis, cell biology, microbiology, immunology, microscopy, plant cells, animal cells and more.


http://Cellsalive.com/ A great site for illustrating…

tutorials and simulations are most helpful
Tutorials and simulations are most helpful….

Just enough,

Just in time,

Just for you…

In mathematics, two great sources are Illuminations and

Shodor (next page)




English language learners as well as students studying other languages can get help with how to pronounce a word or translation right on the web
  • http://www.colby.edu/personal/b/bknelson/exercises/).

Or, you can travel the world from your classroom.


Applied Technology

Fine Arts

Foreign Language


Language Arts


Library Media


Social Studies

Special Ed


Online Tutorials


Yellowstone National Park Wolf news, sightings, history, packs, captive wolves, a wolf map, and audio clip of a wolf howling.


Wow, these are great resources!

How can we find them?

There’s lots of stuff out there and I don’t have much time.







One can find learning objects in a myriad of locations. A Google search on “learning objects” done as this presentation was being written returned 79 million hits. A second search using “learning objects fractions” yielded 2.47 million hits while “learning objects fractions middle school” yielded 1.3 million hits.


Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM)“A Consortium effort to provide educators with quick and easy access to thousands of educational resources found on various federal, state, university, non-profit, and commercial Internet sites”

Contains detailed descriptions of over 49,000 educational resources.



View Full Collections

Teaching Practices (44),

Lesson Ideas (103),

Virtual Field Trips (72),

Digital Documentaries (31)

Leadership Practices (9 ),

Professional Growth Programming (14),

Expert Profiles (2),

Organizational Profiles (3)

Technology Showcases (7)



  • Search For Resources By:
  • Grade Level
    • PK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Higher Ed., Adult/Continuing Ed.
  • Subject
    • Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Information and Technology Literacy, Art and Design Education, Music Education, Environmental Education, More subjects...
  • Wisconsin Model Academic Standards
    • Language Arts: Grade 4, Grade 8, Grade 12
    • Math: Grade 4, Grade 8, Grade 12
    • Etc.


Wisconsin's Information Network for Successful Schools


Wisconsin Online Resource Center

Materials developed primarily by instructors from the Wisconsin Technical College System

2, 025 objects online with 68 more in development.


Seeks to support primarily higher education students and faculty with over 10,000 materials catalogued.

Unique features are peer review, assignments, and member collections.


Library of Congress

Has fantastic materials including historic maps, photos, documents, audio and video clips, virtual tours of galleries, multilingual resources on world culture and more.

Riverfront in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, showing a bridge spanning the Milwaukee River near the Pabst building



University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

Contains a wealth of digitized materials from the UW System libraries you can use to support instruction. A sample of collection titles includes Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent, Great Lakes Maritime History Project, Icelandic Online Dictionary and Readings, Illustrated Shakespeare, SouthEast Asian Images and Texts, and Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records: Original Field Notes.



Connect with an author at



Movie with author speaking about self

  • Movie of author reading book



but does technology increase student learning
But, does technology increase student learning?
  • Researchers report mixed findings but overall it has been found that “teaching and learning with technology has a small [.410], positive, significant (p<.001) effect on student outcomes when compared to traditional instruction”

(Waxman, Lin, Michko, 2003).

When we think of using technology in the classroom, use can be divided into two different types. Learning “from” technology and learning “with” technology

(Reeves 1998 cited in Ringstaff and Kelley, 2002)

When one learns “from” technology, the technology is acting as a tutor or teacher. Drill and practice software fits into this category as would a math fact game or the American Sign Language Dictionary site on the Internet. Use of these resources, learning objects, can lead to increased student learning. In The Learning Return On Our Educational Technology Investment: A Review of Findings from Research, Ringstaff and Kelley (2002) reported “computer-assisted instruction and drill-and-practice software can significantly improve students’ scores on standardized achievement tests (Kulik, 1994; Sivin-Kachala & Bialo, 2000), in all major subject areas, preschool through higher education (Coley, 1997)” (p. 5).
Wenglinsky (1998 in Archer, 1998), in his study of 4th and 8th graders who took the math section of the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress, reported that “4th graders whose teachers used instructional computers mostly for math/learning games posted an achievement gain equal to roughly 15 percent of a grade level” (p. 3). What is happening is that students are building fluency in a specific skill.
learning with technology
Learning “with” technology….
  • Wenglinsky (1998 cited in Valdez, McNabb, Foertsch, Anderson, Hawkes & Raack, 2000) found that “after adjusting for class size, teacher qualifications, and socioeconomics, … technology had more of an impact in middle schools than it did in elementary schools. He found that in eighth grade, where computers were used for simulations and applications, students had higher test scores than where computers were used for drill and practice. The differences were the equivalent of half a grade level.”
What is occurring is “’technology can facilitate deep exploration and integration of information, high-level thinking, and profound engagement by allowing students to design, explore, experiment, access information, and model complex phenomena’ …

These new circumstances and opportunities – not the technology on its own – can have a direct and meaningful impact on student achievement” (Goldman, Cole, and Syer, 1999 cited in NCREL 1999, p. 6).

Goldman et al (cited in CEO Forum, 2001) found that students who employed simulations, microcomputer-based laboratories, and video to connect science instruction to real-world problems outperformed students who employed traditional instructional methods alone.
how do students use and want to use technology
How do students use and want to use technology?

They use the Internet as

  • a virtual textbook and reference library,
  • a virtual tutor and study shortcut,
  • virtual study group,
  • virtual guidance counselor, and
  • virtual locker-backpack-notebook.
but what they find in schools is
But, what they find in schools is….
  • Educational use of the Internet is most likely to occur outside of the school without direction of teachers.
  • When teachers do integrate the Internet into schoolwork, the quality of the assignments tends to be poor and uninspiring.
  • And, use of the Internet is not required for use in homework.
On the whole, “students are frustrated and increasingly dissatisfied by the digital disconnect they are experiencing at school.
  • They cannot conceive of doing schoolwork without Internet access yet they are not being given many opportunities in school to take advantage of the Internet” (Levin & Arafeh, 2002, p. v).
Learning objects are one way to increase student learning and engagement.

What are you waiting for?

What’s your next unit?

What learning objects can make it come alive?

Feel free to download this presentation for use in your school. If you do, please drop us an email so we can document its usage. Thanks!



research references
Research References
  • Archer, J. 1998. The link to higher scores. Education Week. [Online]. Available http://www.edweek.org/sreports/tc98/ets/ets-n.htm (accessed 9/29/03) now available http://counts.edweek.org/sreports/tc98/ets/ets-n.htm (accessed 8/5/05).
  • CEO Forum School Technology and Readiness Report: Year 4. 2001.Key building blocks for student achievement in the 21st century: Assessment, alignment, accountability, access, analysis. Author. [Online]. Available: http://www.ceoforum.org/downloads/report4.pdf
  • Goldman, S., Cole, K., & Syer, C. 1999. The technology/content dilemma [Online]. Available: http://www.ed.gov/Technology/TechConf/1999/whitepapers/paper4.html. Cited in North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. 1999. Critical Issue: Using Technology to improve student achievement. Author. [Online]. Available http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te800.htm
  • Levin, D. & Arafeh, S. 2002. The Digital Disconnect: The Widening Gap Between Internet-Savvy Students and Their Schools. Accessed 1/7/05http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Schools_Internet_Report.pdf
  • North Central Regional Educational Laboratory 1999. Critical Issue: Using Technology to improve student achievement. Author. [Online]. Available http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te800.htm
  • Reeves, T. C. 1998. The impact of media and technology in schools: A research report prepared for The Bertelsmann Foundation. Available http://www.athensacademy.org/instruct/media_tech/reeves0.html
  • Ringstaff, C. and Kelley, L. 2002. The Learning Return On Our Educational Technology Investment: A Review of Findings from Research. WestEd RTEC. [Online]. Available: http://www.WestEd.org/online_pubs/learning_return.pdf
  • Valdez, G., McNabb, M. Foertsch, Anderson, M. Hawkes M., & Raack, L. 2000. Computer-based technology and learning: Evolving uses and expectations. Phase III: Data_Driven Virtual Learning. (page 8 of 10) Accessed 6/3/05. [Online]. Available: (full report) http://www.ncrel.org/tplan/cbtl/toc.htm
  • Waxman, H. C., Lin, M-F, Michko, G.M. 2003. A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of teaching and learning with technology on student outcomes. Learning Point Associates. Accessed 3/21/05. [Online]. Available: http://www.ncrel.org/tech/effects2/waxman.pdf.
  • Wenglinsky, H. 1998. Does it compute? The relationship between educational technology and student achievement in mathematics. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Retrieved August 5, 2005 from ftp://ftp.ets.org/pub/res/technolog.pdf.