Jennifer Maddrell created a nice overview of the shift from learning objects to open educational resources, explaining the differences in form, intentions of reuse and setting, types of systems and licenses, learner focus and interaction, design objectives, technology, sustainability, and extent of use. There clearly are great differences, and the latest version of providing reusable educational resources (OER) show much more promise than the earlier one (learning objects). Still, she emphasizes some of the problematic issues that need to be solved in order to be able to overcome the problems that are related to learning objects.
Even though costs associated with elaborate proprietary systems may be eliminated, OERs are not cost free. Therefore, sustainability continues to be a concern. In addition, availability does not equal use. I'm not sure we have a good handle on either the extent of OER use (by teachers or learners) or the best ways to facilitate use of OERs by users. Further, I think there is a lot to be learned from an instructional design perspective about both open educational practices, as well as OERs as instructional content.
I agree, it is too early to be able to speak about fixing problems with learning objects. By the way, I haven't got any experience with them either, and after consuming some of the literature provided (by one person, so not really objective), I suppose should be happy not to. I do agree with the arguments mentioned against the original idea of learning objects, and think that most of them are sound. Still, regarding OER, we have discussed in length the related difficulties, so we must not think that OER are sacred and good and "fix" problems. We must first fix our own OER problems, before we can be considered a solution for something. A great number of challenges is awaiting us, but I think we are on the right track.
Rob Barton uses the framework proposed by Souza & Preece (2004) about online communities. There are 2 points by which an online community can be assessed: sociability (people, purposes, and policies) and usability (software).
In their framework, these two components have to be aligned to produce success. Any community (whether online, offline, or a hybrid) will have sociability factors that change as the people (or purposes or policies) in the community change. For any online community, the software has to work with those people, purpose, and policies.
Clearly, these two are not aligned in the learning objects community, because educators for example do not embrace the provided metadata formats that are needed for reuse in traditional learning objects systems. Erik Duval, one of the persons responsible for the creation and adoption of the LOM metadata format, acknowledged during a talk on the OpenLearn conference that educators just do not use the format. Instead, he said, they use collaborative tagging and other simple options to describe their learning objects. Quite a statement by someone responsible for a widely adopted LO metadata format. The alignment between people and technology is most easily done when taking technologies already used by people, by leveraging their existing behavior instead of imposing or asking to change their behavior.
My go: learn from the past, and follow the free... :)
Another go: not all giants deserve to be stood on, especially when they face David;)