The RLO Concept

The acronym RLO stands for Reusable Learning Object. There are various definitions for RLOs used by learning object practitioners, educators and theorists. They have been used in different disciplines including academia, extension/outreach, government , corporate world, and as open learning source.

A Reusable Learning Object is a type of online instruction that provides a digital educational resource that can be reused, scaled and shared from a central online repository in the support of instruction and learning. Each RLO supports a single learning objective, which is streamlined into a digital library of RLOs. They vary in size, scope and level of granularity ranging from small chunks of instruction to a series of combined resources to provide a more complex learning experience.

Characteristics of RLOs:

  • Digital (available online 24/7)
  • Self-contained – each learning object can be taken independently
  • Reusable – a single RLO may be used in multiple contexts for multiple purposes
  • Searchable - easy to find learning material; each RLO is tagged with metadata
  • RLO are small units of learning (~5-15 minutes) that do not overload a learner with content
  • Flexible – easy to update and change
  • Standardized – adopt the same organizational structure
  • Can be aggregated – learning objects can be grouped into a larger collection of content, including traditional course structures
  • Provide interoperability – blend into Learning Management Systems (e.g. WebCT Vista, Moodle)
  • Are suited to address a new type of learner – “Net-generation learner” adapted to multi-tasking and digital technologies
  • Enhance student-centered learning

Educational Concepts
Pedagogical concepts that were incorporated into the design of EcoLearnIT are based on Wiley (2000), Bloom (1984), and suggestions by Koohang and Harman (2007). Bloom's Taxonomy builds on a hierarchical system from the lowest level of simple knowledge to the higher cognitive skills of evaluation (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). The digital framework of EcoLearnIT facilitates learning at all levels ranging from simple to complex knowledge encapsulated into different types of RLOs. The bits of environmental knowledge implemented in form of RLOs can be readily integrated into course web sites or Course Management Systems.

More information about EcoLearnIT and RLOs can be found:


  • Bloom BS. 1984. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Publ. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.
  • Koohang A. and K. Harman (eds.) 2007. Learning Objects: Theory, Praxis, Issues and Trends. Informing Science Press, Santa Rosa, CA.
  • Wiley D. (ed). 2000. The Instructional Use of Learning Objects: Online Version. Learning object definitions, pedagogy, case studies, and the future.