A learning object (LO) is a grouping of instructional materials structured to meet a specified educational objective. Digital LOs, which can be stored electronically, allow a new approach to instructional activity, making medical education more efficient, and potentially more cost-effective. They are reusable and can incorporate text, graphics, animations, audio, and video to support and enhance learning. A learning object can stand alone or be aggregated with additional objects to create larger forms of educational content meeting multiple educational objectives. Digital learning objects located in online repositories can be accessed by many computers and are easily handled by an array of learning management systems for delivery to learners at any time. Integrating digital learning objects with traditional educational methods in a blended learning approach assists medical educators in meeting the challenges of competing priorities. Multimedia LOs enable learners to tailor their experience to their preferred learning style. Through the use of learning objects, learners' reactions, their acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes, and their behavioral changes become readily measurable. Learning objects provide multiple research opportunities, such as their use in adaptive learning, their added value in preclinical versus clinical education, and their impact as part of a blended learning strategy.
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