Designing Open Educational Resources through Knowledge Maps to enhance Meaningful learning

Okada, Alexandra and Connolly, Teresa (2008). Designing Open Educational Resources through Knowledge Maps to enhance Meaningful learning. International Journal of Learning Technology, 15(7) pp. 209–220.



This paper demonstrates some pedagogical strategies for developing Open Educational Resources (OERs) using the knowledge mapping tool Compendium. It also describes applications of Knowledge Maps to facilitate meaningful learning by focusing on specific OER examples. The study centres on the OpenLearn project, a large scale online environment that makes a selection of higher education learning resources freely available via the internet. OpenLearn, which is supportedby William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was launched in October 2006 and in the two year period of its existence hasreleased over 8,100 learning hours of the OU's distance learning resources for free access and modification by learnersand educators under the Creative Commons license. OpenLearn also offers three knowledge media tools: Compendium(knowledge mapping software), MSG (instant messaging application with geolocation maps) and FM (web-based videoconferencing application). Compendium is a software tool for visual thinking, used to connect ideas, concepts, arguments, websites and documents. There are numerous examples of OERs that have been developed and delivered by institutions across the world, for example, MIT, Rice, Utah State, Core, Paris Tech, JOCW. They present a wide variety of learning materials in terms of styles as well as differing subject content. Many such offerings are based upon original lecture notes, hand-outs and other related papers used in face-to-face teaching. Openlearn OERs, however, are reconstructed from original self study distance learning materials developed at the Open University and from a vast academic catalogue of materials.
Samples of these “units” comprise a variety of formats: text, images, audio and video. In this study, our findings illustratethe benefits of sharing some OER content through knowledge maps, the possibility of condensing high volumes of information,accessing resources in a more attractive way, visualising connections between diverse learning materials, connecting new ideas to familiar references, organising thinking and gaining new insights into subject specific content.

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