Certainly they can be useful in helping in the mad rush to find materials ahead of a deadline, or help with random browsing and sampling of content produced by others, but whether the 'learning objects' within will enrich the student experience or go the way of clip art collections, is up to how they are used (and any intrinsic value or 'affordances' for learning).
In projects such as Ireland's NDLR, much of the emphasis is now on building 'communities of practice' around subject areas to motivate teachers to share their materials with each other.
Anyway, for interest, some repositories and content collections that were mentioned in the conference and around the coffee were:
- Ireland's (fledgling) National Digital Learning Repository - donations of material welcome!
- The UK's Jorum
- Rice University's Connexions
- MERLOT - the big one in the US, collections of URLs more than objects per se
- MIT's famous open courseware
- The UK Open University's open courseware project OpenLearn
- The OpenCourseware Consortium
- Scottish Cultural Resources Across the Network (Scran) - membership but free for schools