The importance of quality in Reusable Learning Objects
“Confidence in the learning quality of a resource can also be fostered by more robust attention to quality control to ensure the validity of the content and the pedagogical approaches adopted.”
(Windle & Wharrad, 2010)
What do we mean by ‘quality’?
- Conceptual and physical design.
- Accuracy and relevancy of content.
- Evaluation and feedback.
- Copyright and intellectual property.
Copyright and intellectual property
Whilst considerations of accessibility, copyright and usability should not be an initial distraction in any ‘blue sky thinking’ phase, they should ultimately play a big part in firming up the specification during the design process.“Striving for a clear, simple and consistent conceptual model will increase the usability of a system.”
(Benyon et al., 2005)
Why is quality important?It may seem a little obvious to state but, essentially, the main reason for this is to enable your learners to achieve the best possible learning experience from your RLO. This is quite a broad consideration, and covers all kinds of more detailed issues, but it always should be the goal in mind. A high degree of quality assurance, both from a pedagogical and technological perspective will ensure learners are engaged during their use of an online resource but equally satisfied that the resource has met their needs upon completion of the learning. One of the most positive contributions to the quality of a learning resource is through the involvement of a variety of key stakeholders. As covered earlier in earlier sessions, the stakeholders (a community made up of subject experts, service users and prospective learners) play an important role in inputting a range of views which help shape the resource towards a concrete learning need. It is this “bottom up” approach to development that offers opportunities to build in levels of quality which can often be overlooked if resources are put together using more technology-driven methods (Windle & Wharrad, 2010). Be prepared, however, for ensuring great quality will affect other constraints. The most notable of trade-offs, as illustrated below, being the cost and time of overall development. Stakeholders should be aware of this but it is simple in the sense that if quality is essential (which it should be if you want your resource to be effective) then there will be a cost and time implication.
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The University of Nottingham online course,
Designing E-Learning for Health
Why is quality important for health care resources?Healthcare is a complex, challenging and continuously evolving area. There are many demands, expectations, internal and external governing pressures, changes in culture, education, research and equipment all of which have influence in a bid to make a difference to the care people receive. As RLOs can be considered a part of that, primarily for education, it is vital that they uphold a high level of quality especially in terms of their accuracy and usability. A high quality learning resource is an effective one and will consequently encourage the ‘reusability’ aspect. There is also the very real prospect that a proportion of learners, who have studied using RLOs, may find themselves in a position where they have to provide immediate care to a patient whose life is at risk. If we imagine, albeit an extremely exaggerated scenario, where such a situation could require someone to recall on knowledge gained from their online learning experiences then it would be inconceivable to consider any error of guidance in an RLO leading to a serious mistake in action. Again, whilst this is an over-the-top example, the fact remains that quality of E-learning resources has to be exceptional to prevent potential risks, issues and liability. They must always be highly accurate and updated in accordance with any change in practice procedures. These are the considerations for quality that stakeholders need to be prepared to ensure at any cost. For us, the quality input into the RLOs we develop for the field of healthcare is unquestionable. Our target audience for these resources, as learners, is vast. There are practitioners, other healthcare professionals in the field of practice, students training to healthcare professionals, service users (alternatively known as patients), their carers and the wider general public all of whom access RLOs to undertake some type of learning. That learning could be to improve knowledge and skills in a particular area, be it for research and development purposes or perhaps even for some simple comfort or reassurance. Such a large spectrum of learners requires resources to be built on principles of good quality otherwise learners will simply disengage from E-learning where quality is lacking. Very few will continue working through a resource which is inaccurate and difficult to use or follow. For example, think about a story on your favourite celebrity in a magazine – what things make you consider the quality of this resource? You may identify reputation and trust amongst the things you would consider and it is true that these factors can play a part. If authors (or stakeholders), working with developers, produce consistently high quality resources then an inevitable level of trust will build. As a result, their resources will become relied upon for effective learning and therefore used time and time again.
- Benyon, D., Turner, P., and Turner, S. (2005). Designing interactive systems: People, activities, contexts, technologies. Pearson Education.
- Jisc (2014) Quality considerations [online]. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/open-educational-resources/quality-considerations [Accessed 15 January 2016].
- Windle, R. & Wharrad, HJ. (2010). Reusable Learning Objects in Health Care Education. In: Bromage, A., Clouder, L., & Gordon, F., Thistlethwaite, J., eds., Interprofessional E-Learning and Collaborative Work: Practices and Technologies. IGI-Global.
Discussion topicsQuality is a big and often debated topic when it comes to developing E-learning.
- What does quality mean to you?
- What do you think about the importance of quality for learning resources?
Designing E-Learning for Health
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