Abstract: Reusing learning objects is as old as retelling a story or making use of libraries and textbooks, and in electronic form has received an enormous new impetus because of the World Wide Web and Web technologies. Are we at the brink of changing the "shape and form of learning, ... of being able to truly increase and improve human learning and performance" (Hodgins, 2000)? We are sceptical, for human and educational reasons. One of our arguments is that human aspects not technology will constrain what will be done with learning objects. Our other argument is that the learning philosophy that seems to underlie many of the discussions and the technology relating to learning objects will limit their depth of development and impact. In this paper, we examine the life cycle of a reusable electronic learning object, including steps involved with creating, capturing, indexing, archiving, finding, wanting to use, using, revising, and maintaining it. We also explore the human issues as well as the technology-related aids in each of the above phases. We illustrate the influence of context -- higher education, corporate learning, military training, in these life cycles, together with the effect of two educational philosophies, namely those of acquisition and participation/contribution.