OER1064e Short Paper (Part of Symposium OER1064)

Face the OER storm with confidence. Use an umbrella.

Michael Taylor, Richard Windle and Heather Wharrad, University of Nottingham

Conference Theme:  Open Educational Communities 

Abstract: The development and use of open educational resources (OER) in health science education, as in other areas, faces specific pedagogical dilemmas.  Firstly for resources to be reusable they need to be context-neutral, but this loss of specific examples and insights may reduce their effectiveness in vocational courses.  Secondly, although small, highly focused materials tend to be most reusable, their delivery in this form can obscure the links between subjects that are so important in an evidence-based curriculum.  
Educators wish to deliver holistic and contextualised materials to their students and tend to reject e-learning materials without these characteristics.   Working closely with nurse-educators and students we have developed an approach and associated tool that enables them to utilize and ascribe contextual value to OER components, whilst allowing the individual components to remain small, context-neutral and as reusable as possible. Tutors search for and locate small OER components that cover aspects of the learning goals that they wish to address.  The components are drawn into a user-friendly interface that stores and orders them as a larger package that we have termed an Umbrella Learning Object (ULO).    Certain common elements, such as assessment questions or glossary terms can be embedded within the XML components of such resources, and are then extracted from the components and combined in specific sections of the developing resource.  The ULO-creator then allows tutors to add their own contextual materials in the form of audio, images, video and text before the completed resource is finalised and packaged.   In this way learners are provided with holistic materials that are specific to their own practice, whilst the OER components can be recombined to meet other needs.  The template is populated via a Flash interface, and this enables the ULO to become platform and server independent allowing the tutor to distribute the packaged ULO across many different repositories and platforms.
Here, we will demonstrate the tutor-friendly ULO creation and adaptation process.  We will also present initial evaluation and findings of its use and of the effectiveness of the resultant ULOs.   

Keywords: Reusable Learning Object, Content creation tool, XML, Contextualisation