OER1064b Short Paper (Part of Symposium OER1064)

Caring and sharing.  Evaluation of reuse of open Educational resources in health

Heather Wharrad, University of Nottingham
Richard Windle, University of Nottingham
Raquel Morales, University of Cambridge
Claire Bradley, London Metropolitan University

Conference Theme:  Open Educational Content 

Abstract: Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) are granular, interactive multi-media resources.  We have been developing RLOs in health care for 10 years and have a mature catalogue of RLOs (1).   Although these have been designed for use within the University of Nottingham, they have also been made freely available through a creative commons licence for reuse elsewhere. In order to determine whether learning objects are pedagogically effective we, as partners in the RLO-CETL, have developed an evaluation framework to collect an evidence-base for their use.  Being theoretically grounded in Activity Theory (2) the framework is able to provide systematic feedback not only on learning effectiveness, but also on the many activities and deliverables associated with such a project.  An evaluation toolkit consisting of a number of qualitative and quantitative instruments, including on-line feedback elements, paper-based questionnaires and protocols for semi-structured interviews and focus groups has been constructed to collect this information.   These instruments have been extensively used in blended learning modules in pharmacology, clinical skills, study skills and evidence-based practice across the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy at the University of Nottingham where upwards of 4,000 students can access the RLOs at any given time.
Results show a consistently positive evaluation of the materials by learners in areas such as effectiveness, engagement, content delivery and integration with other course elements.  They also show that learners particularly value their visual and interactive elements and the ability to control their own learning.  The toolkit has also been used to monitor the reuse of these RLOs internationally.  Online feedback data demonstrates reuse throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America and Australasia, providing a valuable model of successful sharing and the technical and cultural issues surrounding reuse. Furthermore, evaluations from these reuse audiences are as positive as those discussed above.  This suggests that the development of resources that are highly aligned to the authentic learning needs of one audience provides value in their use as open educational resources.

Keywords: Communities of Practice, Reusable Learning Objects, Evaluation, Quality Assurance, Activity theory, Health


  1. SONET http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/nmp/sonet/rlos (accessed 3.11.09)
  2.  Engeström, Y. (1999). Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Y.Engeström, R. Miettinen & R-L Punamäki (Eds.), Perspectives on activity theory (pp. 19-38). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.