This short document is intended to provide guidance for academic staff presenting learning packages for Open Resources for Built Environment Education (ORBEE approach). The purpose of the guide is to ensure a level of consistency in production of the packages which should enhance the accessibility of learning material for learners. However, the guidance offered here is not designed to constrain originality and innovation in the way learning is supported, encouraged or assessed.
The guide begins with a series of general principles and then explores each of the components of the packages in more detail. The components are represented below
An average size of 5 credit or 50 notional learning hours is recommended for each OER learning package. This allows created materials to be easily re-purposed so that the content can be clearly defined and understood by both learners and academics.
Each learning package is based on the principle of ‘tell me about it’, show me how it works’ and ‘let me have a go’
‘Tell me about it’ – this can be delivered through a variety of media which introduce the subject matter and relate study material to the learning outcomes. The introduction to subject matter can be supported by essential or recommended reading for the learner
‘Show me how it works’ – at this stage learners will have the opportunity to see how theoretical material introduced earlier relates to practical scenarios and problems.
‘Let me have a go’ – learners will be encouraged to actively apply what they have learned to realistic activities and case studies, helping them apply and contextualise their learning.
- It is envisaged that learners will work their way through the packages in a logical order working from learning materials, engaging with scenarios and problems, applying learning to case studies and finally to self-assessment and solution. However, some learners (or academics) may wish to use the packages in a way more suited to their needs.
- Learners should be encouraged to assess their progress against learning outcomes. This can be achieved by including activities that require the learner to reflect on their engagement and progress with materials.
- In developing learning packages it is important to be sympathetic to the learners’ situation with regard to accessing resources not included in the package. Some learners may find it difficult to gain access to text resources, for example, that are normally accessed through an academic library.
- The design of learning packages should make them as open as possible – meaning that they are attractive and meaningful to the widest possible audience.
This section contains the theoretical background of the subject and includes the following elements
An introductory presentation. Ideally this would be a Powerpoint narrative screencast or a video of a short lecture, but could also be Powerpoint slides to include the notes section for each slide. The presentation should be between 5 and 10 minutes longand a house style will be adopted.
- The style and tone of the presentation should take into account that this will probably be the first contact a learner has with this subject and maybe also this medium of learning
- The presentation should introduce the subject matter to learners and relate the overall study within the learning package to the learning outcomes
- The presentation should describe how the learning undertaken throughout the package will enable learners to achieve the learning outcomes
- It should also lead learners into the reading materials which will be their next area of study
This should be a word document which fills in the detailed background of the subject. We would expect some variety in type of material presented here as existing written material will be used.
Although we do not wish to constrain what is presented here we would offer an approximate guideline of about 10 pages of written material or equivalent as a minimum.
It would be helpful to break up large sections of reading into smaller chunks, perhaps giving learners an estimate of the approximate time to study each section.
- In order to maintain learners’ engagement with material it may help to offer self assessment questions as they complete each section
- Where learners are referred to other sources of information which they may wish to investigate themselves authors should take into account the accessibility of such information for learners in the workplace
One or more presentations should be included. As a guideline we would suggest the equivalent of a 1 to 2 hour presentation if it were delivered face-to-face for each 5 credit learning package. Presentations will probably be more accessible for learners if broken down into 2 or 3 shorter sessions.
Presentations should link explicitly with the reading material (perhaps a theory based presentation) and may also link with scenarios or case studies (a more practically based presentation).
Presentations will probably be delivered in a powerpoint format , ideally a narrative screencast or a video of a short presentation.
A short summary of reading which learners may wish to access. This is intended as an optional resource for learners who wish to support and extend their learning. Essential reading should be included in the reading materials section above.
- Where possible a short note that introduces learners to the resource and suggests how it might support their learning should be included. Authors should aim to select the most appropriate resources for this section emphasising quality rather than quantity
- Where possible links that take learners directly to the recommended resource should be used to ensure materials are accessible
- Authors may choose to recommend a core text for learners to refer to
- Copyright issues should be taken into consideration
Activity: scenarios and problems
This section of the learning package requires learners to consider how they might start to apply the learning they have gained from the first section in practice. Developing scenarios allows authors to manage the way in which learners get to apply and contextualise their learning. Scenarios can be relatively simple and test a straightforward understanding of a concept or principle or they can be complex, introducing a variety of contextual variants which test learning at a higher level.
Each 5 credit module should include at least two scenarios
- A scenario should describe a practical situation that highlights learning points associated with the subject matter introduced in the learning materials section of the package. Although the scenario is likely to be based on the author’s knowledge of real situations it will probably be hypothetical but derived from a real-life situation. The aim is to provide a vehicle for learning at this stage. Evidence based case studies will provide the real examples
- The scenario should be succinct and should emphasise they key points which the learners will need to absorb to apply their learning. 200 – 300 words is the typical length of a descriptive scenario, although authors may choose to include data or visual images too
- The scenario should be written to be accessible to learners from a variety of vocational backgrounds
- Typically authors will include two or three questions which learners will need to consider and respond to in the light of the information included in the scenario
- Authors will need to provide indicative model answers to these questions for learners to check their responses. An element of discussion may be included in the model answer where it is likely that learners will express different, legitimate viewpoints
- The technique of asking learners to solve problems is more straightforward than using a scenario with less room for a variety of responses. Problem solving may be used to check understanding of uncontested knowledge and may require a direct rather than a discursive answer
- Once the learner has attempted to answer the questions associated with the scenario they can be asked to complete a short reflective activity which evaluates how successfully they have managed to apply their theoretical learning to the scenario. This can include reference to ways in which the process might differ if they applied their learning in the context of their own work rather than a controlled scenario
- The reflective activity that learners must undertake should be clearly described including reference to any product they should produce such as a reflective diary or statement
- Where possible authors should try to vary the type of reflective activity which learners are asked to complete.
Evidence based case studies
For the purpose of these learning packages evidence based case studies are intended to be relatively simple to prepare, providing an opportunity for learners to apply their knowledge to a situation that includes real contextual detail and may not conform to the more managed examples provided as scenarios in the previous section. Learners will need to engage with the case study and carry out one or more activities that require them to reflect on the material included, making links between theory and practice in context. Authors will need to provide discussion or an indicative model answer in response to the activity.
- Case studies may be presented as text, audio or video, or a combination of media. To give some guidance of length a text based case study should be between 500 and 750 words.
- Case studies should provide information about a discrete occurrence that illustrates one or more of the learning outcomes of the package. Since in reality work situations rarely have clear boundaries, a critical decision for authors will be what to include and what to leave out of their case study. Authors may write a case study ‘from scratch’ or repackage existing material to ensure it is relevant to the learning outcomes and stimulates reflective activity
- The case study needs to be relevant to the learning outcomes of the package and needs to provide an opportunity for learners to apply what they have learned in the previous two sections to a contextualised example
- Where possible a case study should include some element of complexity to challenge the learner to reflect on their theoretical learning at a higher level. This might be achieved, for example, by including contrasting viewpoints concerning a particular approach. This will provide opportunity for reflective comment from learners
- Since the case study will describe a real situation it will be likely to refer to challenges, difficulties and even failures. Again, these instances should provide opportunity for reflective comment from learners
- Although the case study will describe a real situation, authors will have to be selective about what material to include to ensure the learning process is manageable for learners and that developing case studies is a feasible and not excessively time consuming task for authors
- Authors should aim to include some detailed and specific information in case studies even if only for a small element of the study. This will enable learners to practice applying learning at a detailed level as well as the more generalised approach of the scenario
- Learners should be asked to undertake an activity associated with the case study that requires them to apply what they have learned from the learning materials and scenarios and problems to the case study. An element of this activity should be reflective and might ask them to consider how the inclusion of contextual detail affects their application of knowledge.
- The reflective activity might also ask them to consider how the context of their own work might affect the translation of theory into practice
- The reflective activity that learners must undertake should be clearly described
Self assessment and solutions
By this stage in the learning package learners will already have carried out several elements of self assessment. They will have
- Completed model answers to scenario-based questions or problems
- Carried out reflection on their approach to scenario-based activities or problems
- Undertaken an activity based on a case study including a reflective element
However these self-assessment activities may have been mainly focused on individual elements of study.
We would like authors to conclude the learning package with two or three questions posed to students that require them to draw together theoretical and practical learning from the whole learning package to provide a response.
We would also like authors to provide short indicative model answers to these questions.
- The model answer should be referenced back to the learning included in the package so that learners whose answer is incomplete can check back on what they have missed
- If necessary guidance can be provided to the learner which directs them to the relevant sections of the learning package to enable them to respond to the questions. Guidance may also be given concerning the depth and detail of the response required. We would expect a response of no more than 400 words to be adequate to answer each question as a guideline
- Learners may require particular instruction on how to draw in evidence in their response which addresses both theoretical and practical issues
- An explicit and articulated link between learning outcomes and elements of the assessment task may make it easier for learners to see what they have achieved by completing the learning package