I remember making a sort of bagatelle to illustrate the Binomial Distribution. It consisted of an array of nails on a plywood backing board, and the use of different numbers of marbles. Marbles were dropped down one-by-one and, if all went well, a nice experimental binomial distribution was obtained. Well, most of the time.
This was in the days before computers, of course, but was the educational technology of the time. Digital Learning Objects (DLOs) are the modern equivalent.
A digital learning object is "any digital resource that can be reused to support learning......Additionally, learning objects are generally understood to be digital entities deliverable over the Internet, meaning that any number of people can access and use them simultaneously (as opposed to traditional instructional media, such as an overhead or video tape, which can only exist in one place at a time). Moreover, those who incorporate learning objects can collaborate on and benefit immediately from new versions." (Wiley, 2000)
It is interesting that the word "object" comes from programmers: that is, the idea of object programming where units are programmed to be re-used again in different parts of the programme. Thus theses objects are small instructional components, put together by the learning designer (teacher).
But - where are all these DLOs?
Hidden behind passwords it seems to me. An hour spent looking for these on the internet produces several big repositories of DLOs. MELOT seems to be the one that is most accessible. It seems big in Australia and New Zealand, Universities and other higher level institutions.
Where is the open source DLO repository? The creative commons DLO repository? Surely it can't all be monetized....
Wiley, DA 2000. Connecting Learning Objects to Instructional Design Theory: A definition, a metafor, and a taxonomy. The Edumetrics Institute. http://reusability.org/read/chapters/wiley.doc (accessed 19 February 2009).