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OER with real learners: A new learning narrative for Open Educational resources. The Open University experience of the iTunesU app -- 241 -- Demonstration


11:30 - 12:30 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 4.206

The launch of Apple's iTunesU app in January 2012 provided a new tool for organising learning narratives structured around Open Educational Resources (OERs). The OU is already well established as a major contributor of high quality OERs freely available via a number of channels including the traditional iTunes U, OpeLearn and eBooks.

The iTunes U app provides a tool which allows diverse resources to be constructed into linear and potentially branched learning pathways. The tool provides a standardised approach to structuring learning experiences, but provides appreciable freedom for the tutor or instructor to shape the linking narrative and interactive engagements with the student user.

Since the launch of the app the OU has created over 50 learning pathways that deploy a wide range of educational resources, from eBooks, text and audio visual assets from OpenLearn and iTunesU, purpose built quizzes and subject specific apps.

The experience of identifying and moulding a broad range of assets that vary widely in their duration and characteristics has simultaneously demonstrated some of the limitations and strengths of the Apple tool, and the paper will report on a number of exemplars highlighting both.

The OU's early engagement with the iTunes U app at a time when few other institutions had started to work with it lead to the development of a set of rules by an heuristic process. Pulling existing resources (which may be characterised as ‘found’ resources) together to combine them into in-depth, well-structured learning materials required new processes and a new way of thinking about OERs.

The presentation reports the OU experience of creating narrative links and a pathway through diverse resources and highlights the challenges in:

  • providing a well thought out narrative ideal for self-paced (mobile) study
  • identifying themes from a large and varied collection of OER material and forging choate, credible narratives from it
  • adding user value by creating new resources such as videos and quizzes


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