A reusable learning object (RLO) is a self-contained learning resource, usually stored digitally and delivered online, the study of which requires much less time than traditional learning packages, typically a few minutes. They are considered reusable as a single learning object may be used in a number of contexts, perhaps the subject matter of the learning object is relevant to many courses, programmes or disciplines, for example, an RLO about the fundamentals of statistical analysis may be of use to science, geography and sociology courses. By design RLOs can be studied singly as they package all the content, media, exercises and practice needed to achieve their intended learning outcome, or they can be embedded as resources within more traditional course deliveries. In addition RLOs are able to be aggregated into packages to form larger learning resources or courses.
The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Reusable Learning Objects (RLO CETL) has many examples of RLOs and how they might be used. An RLO about SI units of measurement illustrates the self-contained nature of this type of learning resource and also how they are reusable. Although this RLO was developed for students of nursing and midwifery it obviously has relevance to many other areas of study as understanding SI units is necessary in fields including physics, geography, chemistry and so on.
How is an RLO created?
RLOs can be created both by specialist developers, (learning technologists, programmers, designers), and also by non-specialists using tools that are specifically designed to make the development and publication of RLOs quick and easy.
There are many RLO authoring tools available from both commercial vendors and the Open Source community. One such tool, Xerte, developed at the University of Nottingham, is currently being evaluated at Plymouth University. Xerte combines quick and simple authoring of RLOs, (which can include study content, a variety of media, and formative quizzes with feedback), with easy publishing to the Web for student use.
If you wish to know more about RLOs and how you might use them in your teaching, or have an idea for an RLO, or would like to know more about Xerte, please email the Learning Technologies team at firstname.lastname@example.org , call on 01752 587600, or talk to your local faculty based Learning Technologist.