Developing high quality educational resources
This page is devoted to educational resources, particularly Open Education Resources (OERs). It is hoped to be relevant to educators who are trying to develop good quality educational resources - and therefore to be a resource for the Wikiversity community. Through the course of this page, the terms "(learning) material", "(learning) resource", and "learning object" are largely synonymous, and refer to some sort of material (textual, aural, visual, etc) that can be used in an educational context ("education" taken in its broadest definition, and therefore not limited to formal education).
What is a good learning object?
It is difficult to say categorically what a good learning object is, particularly as this often depends on its context of use. How to prompt educational experiences is a very large question, and will be dealt with on other pages than this one. However, it is possible to outline characteristics of a learning object that make it easier to be used and understood, including specifying how it is to be used, what its learning objectives are.
What is the smallest piece of a particular resource that can be tagged and reused? Is it the whole document, a part of the document, an activity, an embedded video, a sentence/question..? This is a question of granularity - how resources (or parts of resources) can be aggregated to create a learning resource/schema appropriate for a particular person's or class's learning context. The better we describe and segment our resources, the more we empower people to make creative and personal use of these resources.
There are billions of web pages on all sorts of subjects - how are we to know where to find the pages (or parts of pages) that best suit our needs? Google, as we may have found ourselves, does not always bring the "best" results (ie the ones that best suit our specific needs) to the top of a search - so how are we to find the resources that we need?
Use and Reuse
In order to be "open", Open Educational Resources need to be released under a licence that permits other people to use them and reuse them. There are a number of licences that allow various types of reuse, ranging from the totally free Public domain to licences specifying that they cannot be used commercially, and that no derivative works can be made of this work. If this is confusing, please take a look at our page on Free content.
How can we tell if the resource is of any quality? One way of telling would be to conduct research on the use of different materials to see what materials fostered more learning. Another is to integrate a feedback model into resources so that people - educators and learners - can "rate this resource". The wiki model has a discussion model inherent within it - but is this user-friendly enough for the newly-arrived educator/learner to give feedback?
Materials are used by learners and educators - they exist within a specific context (eg the framework of a particular class, or the current knowledge of a self-learner). This use implies an interaction between the learner and the material - a communication and construction of meaning back and forth between the material and the user. Good educational material should allow the user to apply their own prior understanding, in order to come to a personal understanding of the material, as well as to see their understanding in a wider context. Material should also allow for the active participation of the learner, to make the learning more "real" for them.
A variety of rubrics are available which may be used to rate educational resources, or at a minimum, provide ideas and suggestions for developing resources that have reflected high quality in other projects. These include:
- Achieve.org: Open Educational Resources Rubrics
- Illinois Online Network: Quality Online Course Initiative