OER1024 Oral Presentation ppt

Preparing effective OERs from undergraduate science courses: granularity, re-use and re-purposing

Mark Goodwin, Suzanne Lavelle and Annette Cashmore GENIE CETL, Department of Genetics, University of Leicester

Conference Theme: Open educational content

Abstract: Open educational resources (OERs) can be categorized in a number of different ways. The categories are based on a range of information that is assumed to be relevant to producers and users, including topic, teaching objectives, level, pedagogical approach, teaching technologies and user groups. This information can then be used to organize OERs into repositories in a way that helps users to find the resources they need quickly and efficiently. Another important dimension that must be considered by producers of OERs is the size and complexity of the material provided: the ‘granularity’ of the OERs. Repositories can contain a range of materials, from individual digital assets, through information objects, learning objects and learning activities, to coherent and progressive programmes of learning design with associated assessment regimes (to use categories from Ferguson, 2007; adapted from Littlejohn et al., 2008). This dimension raises a number of questions, however, especially if the aim is to encourage the re-purposing of OERs alongside their re-use. As one moves through the levels of increasing complexity, re-usability and adaptability are progressively lost in favour of the pedagogical structure and context that are characteristic of effective teaching materials. Individual assets are flexible and easy to re-purpose precisely because they are not tied to specific teaching contexts. In contrast, complex programmes of educational materials work because they have been designed to teach specific topics to specific audiences in specific ways. A focus on the learning needs of identified users is a key element of effective teaching, but it is this that makes the materials difficult to sub-divide and re-purpose as OERs for different teaching objectives and different audiences. This presentation will explore this tension between preparing whole courses of integrated OERs (difficult to re-purpose but effective teaching) and OER repositories that contain collections of individual learning objects (easy to re-purpose but divorced from a wider educational context). It will examine how it has been resolved in some existing repositories, and examine some of the decisions taken in the process of adapting whole undergraduate science courses as OERs for the authors own OER repository: the Virtual Genetic Education Centre (http://www.le.ac.uk/ge/genie/vgec/).

Keywords: OERs / digital assets / learning objects / learning design / re-purposing / re-use / granularity

Ferguson, N. (2007) ‘Sharing elearning content: what are the main challenges’, OpenLearn: Researching Open Content in Education, proceedings of the OpenLearn2007 Conference, 30–31 October 2007, pp.63–66.
Littlejohn, A., Falconer, I. and McGill, L. (2008) ‘Characterising effective elearning resources’, Computers and Education, vol.50, no.3, pp.757–771.