Gibbs, Graham R., Clarke, Dawn, Teal, Andrew, Silver, Christina and Crowley, Colm (2010) Learning Theory and OERs: The REQUALLO Experience. In: Open Educational Resources 2011 (OER11), 11 - 13 May 2011, University of Manchester.

OER1131 Symposium Thursday 12 May 13.30

There is an assumption of much learning theory that the teacher or designer has total control over the learning environment; that he or she can plan the curriculum, the learning outcomes, exercises and the general environment. But this is rarely true for most teachers and especially it is not true for designers of OERs and RLOs. In this case we must design for just one part of the overall learning experience. As Mayes and de Freitas (2007, p.17) put it, "new knowledge must be built on the foundations of already existing frameworks, through problem solving activity and feedback." But designers of RLOs either don't know what this framework is, or cannot guarantee that the user will address it before using the RLO.
The REQUALLO project (Reusable Qualitative Learning Objects) has been funded by the HEA for the last three years to produce RLOs to support students learning how to undertake qualitative analysis in the social sciences. In this case problems of control over the learning environment are exacerbated as the analytic activity is essentially a creative one and teachers generally want to avoid being explicit about what steps or stages the learner needs to go through.

There are several responses that designers may take and that we have adopted for REQUALLO.
1. Provide a number of entry points, with some guidance to learners as to which they ought to use. An advantage of this approach is that we have also used it as a way of presenting the RLO material that is appropriate for different levels of learner, undergrad or postgrad.
2. Provide opportunities for vicarious learning. We do this by providing case studies of actual students who describe their own, sometimes hesitant, even chaotic learning of the analytic process.
3. Support learners to be creative by dealing with things differently, not doing what they have done before. In REQUALLO we offer not a set of definitive stages, but a variety of approaches. We do not suggest there is a ‘best’ way to do analysis, but rather, many possible ways.

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