Source: WP5 - glossary
Even though the term 'learning object' is widely use, the underlying concept is far from clear(cp. Wiley, D. Learning Objects: Difficulties and Opportunities. http://opencontent.org/docs/lo_do.pdf, and Polsani, P.R. (2003). Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects. Journal of Digital Information,3(4). http://jodi.tamu.edu/Articles/v03/i04/Polsani/).
For example the IEEE-LOM standard defines a learning object as "any entity -digital or non-digital- that may be used for learning, education or training". Besides the question whether a learning objects has to be digital or not a more intriguing question is how to cope with the problem that the quality of the object (to be a learning object) is obviously not a property of the object itself but of its use. To give an example, the famous learning object mentioned in the IEEE-LOM standard is the "Mona Lisa", but this "object" was not painted as a learning object, it becomes a learning object only when someone, e.g. a teacher, uses it as such.
Furthermore the term learning object might also raise confusion as object basically refers here ton an artefact and not the object of activity in an activity theoretical sense.
--Christoph Richter, 19-Jul-2006