Creating open educational resources
Creating open educational resources

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Creating open educational resources


There are many tools for creating OER that at a basic level can be split into those with open licensing and ease of remixing built in those that don’t. You may already be using the latter to create content.

By far the most commonly used tools for creating educational resources and therefore OERs is Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. To make these resources open you will need to apply an appropriate licence where – as with tools such as LabSpace from The Open University and Xpert from the University of Nottingham – the licensing is built in and the tools you use to create and therefore remix the content is free and open so you can make this easily available to others.

There are more specialist proprietary tools such as Photoshop and Flash from Adobe, where the content you produce at the end of the process can be made open but the user would need to buy the software to easily remix it.

There is an ever-increasing list of tools available for you to create content in multiple formats; a simple Google search will return many results. When choosing a tool, you will need to think about how you want the final output to be used. If want your content to be changed, it will require specialist software to produce the results you require.

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Transcript: Choosing tools

So, the big question then is, how do you go about developing these things if you want to include them in OER? And obviously, if you have Flash-based development skills, or a friendly Flash-based developer whose time you can call on, then that’s great. If not, there are some approaches that you can take. And some of these things people might have come across, so I would be interested to know whether you have.
Some of the tools – there’s a tool that’s developed by the University of Nottingham called Xerte. Has anyone come across Xerte? Yeah, a couple of people. So, this is one thing you might have a look at. And in fact, there’s different ways into it. There’s a sandbox for Xerte on the TechDis site that you can use, and actually have a play with Xerte.
You can actually, if you wanted to take it on, you can take it down as an institutional download, but you can also get Xerte on a stick, running on a little XAMPP stick. And I’ve got some sticks here. So what I’m hoping we’ll do is have a chance to have a look at some of these things, and perhaps have a go at creating something very, very basic in a little time. So I’ve got some sticks that you can borrow and run Xerte.
I’m not going to spend hours and hours going through all these things, but ... I’m hoping that ... This laptop’s very slow.
So who has seen Xerte before? Have you actually used it?
Yeah, I’ve actually got it downloaded before. Because I’ve got Version 3 downloaded.
[INAUDIBLE] ... work on Mac. A lot of versions are PC versions. I’ve got a colleague, Professor Chris [INAUDIBLE], is doing an OER project to learn [INAUDIBLE] conclusively. And she’s employed a student for a year or two years for the project to use Xerte, but he’s really good at Flash as well. And, bless him, he tried to give us a training session on Xerte, and he went about – I’m quite familiar with computers, and I know a bit about Flash and a bit of coding, and that went right over my head.
Okay, I should say about Xerte, there are two levels to it. There is what I would call Xerte heavy, which I would not recommend unless you’re a developer to go anywhere near, and I certainly would never go anywhere near it. But there’s also a thing called Xerte Toolkits, which are a series of templates. So they’re templated activities, and they’re the sort of things that somebody like me with no technical ability really can do, because they’ll sort of say, stick an image in here, add some text in here, put an audio in here, or here’s a little template to create a little MCQ.
So this is the Xerte home page – as I say – and I’ll give you a Xerte on a stick to have a look at in a minute, if you’ve not used it before. It’s simply a case of creating a project. You get this kind of, perhaps a little bit scary-looking, page. It’s not particularly user-friendly in that sense.
But basically, you just go through and insert pages, and it gives you these – in Xerte Toolkits this is, it gives you these lists of pages for things like images and graphics, and it gives you a description of what you might get down the bottom here. So there’s things for adding Flash animations, there’s things for adding YouTube pages, and so on, as well now.
I would say with all these tools, they all have their benefits, and they all have their drawbacks as well. None of them work, perhaps, a hundred per cent smoothly. So, in that case, when I said I wanted to add some images and some text, I’ve got this page here. So it’s a form-based thing, really, rather than a more WYSIWYG thing.
I’ve added my text in here. I’ve gone off to look for an image, and it can be an image that’s on my machine. I’ve added my image, and this is a spire that I’ll talk a little bit more about later on. And there’s a preview button at the bottom there, just for me to have a look at what I’ve done. And then there’s lots of interactivity, diagrams, timelines, MCQ. So, as I say, if people aren’t technical, you can pull these templates down and actually create something.
And people use this in different ways. I mean, you can actually use it to aggregate some of your OER stuff together. It’s not designed as an aggregator, but you could use in that way, or you could use it to provide those little bits of glue in between your OER resources. If you’re pulling out lots of OER resources that you’ve found, you might think, well that’s great, but actually, I need to add a little bit of context here about my own local circumstances, or I might want to do a little bit of assessment. And you could use something like this just to put those little sort of glue elements to add the context into your OER.
So that’s just a little timeline thing that you could create. And then you can export the package as a zip file, or as a SCORM package. And basically, it sits, then, outside of Xerte, and you can upload it into your VLE, or wherever you want to, into your repository.
So I’ll show you this little example here. This is something – if it’s going to work – that somebody created, and again, this is someone who is a colleague of mine who created this, and he isn’t a technical person at all. There’s no audio on this one. The template – they’ve done a lot of work with TechDis to develop the template. I must admit, I was showing this to my 12-year-old son yesterday, and he said, "Looks a bit old, doesn’t it?" So, a bit old-fashioned looking. But it, as I say, it has at least got that kind of TechDis ...
So you can see that they’ve created a little slideshow in here. That’s nice, isn’t it? Sorry.
I’ll leave you to have a look through these kind of templates that you can use. So a lot of it is images and text-based stuff. Good old Florence.
Can you embed video?
You can embed video. Yeah, I think one of the templates there is video. As I say, I’ll give you a copy of Xerte on a stick to have a look at. The only thing about Xerte on a stick – this downloaded version – is I don’t think it has all of the templates on there.
I’ve downloaded the toolkit.
It’s lost me already.
Okay. When you have a chance to play at it, I’ll help you. I mean, I don’t profess to be an expert in any of it. I have used most of these things, but I don’t profess to be an expert in any of them, so, but ...
Okay, so that’s a quick look at toolkits. Another little tool that you might like to look at, which is probably – it’s more limited in terms of what it will do – is Glomaker. I don’t know if anyone’s looked at Glomaker. This is something, actually, we developed in the Settle. It’s more limited than Xerte, definitely, but it’s perhaps slightly easier to use. So that can be found at
And it’s a similar kind of thing, really. It’s a free download, so this is a completely free tool. And once you’ve downloaded it, you basically create a project. And the thing about Glomaker is it has the kind of pedagogical patterns design at the front of it, so you can actually choose which pattern you want. I mean, I tend to go for the freestyle pattern that basically lets you do what you like. I suppose I don’t like being told what to do. But there are patterns in there that you can choose.
And you get this little pedagogical tool here where you basically say, I want to introduce my session, I want to do some learning, and I want to assess and do reflection. And you basically create a little design, join the nodes together, you can move nodes about. So you get this sort of design element, first of all, and then you get into the actual layout and stuff. Has anyone ever seen Glomaker, by the way? No?
And so Glomaker works in a similar way. You call up layouts at the bottom there, and it says, do you want a page that looks like this, or an MCQ page, or just a blank page? So you build up the page type that you want, it gives you a little template, and then you build in components. So it’s got things like Flash Player, and MP3 Player, image loaders, image magnifiers. So again, there are all these kind of templated activities that are there to use.
So, I won’t go through this, but I’ve added an image in here, and then I’ve added some text, and you’ve got all the kind of usual things for changing the size of the text and all the rest of it. And then again, you can package the resources as a zip package. There’s lots of examples on the gallery, which is on a little wiki there that’s on – I’ve given you this on your handout, actually. If this is going to work, I’ll show you this is something that I created. [PAUSE] You can have a look at that. Sorry, I can’t get that to load, but you can have a look at that for yourself.
And this is just a little pattern. This is actually one of the built patterns where it’s a pattern called multiple interpretations, where you can actually ask different people questions about a subject. So in this case, this is very interestingly about carbohydrates and proteins. And you can ask a nutritionist, a physiologist or a biochemist about the make-up of carbohydrates, where they’re found in the diet, and that kind of thing. So that’s something else you might want to have a little try at.
Another package that is eXe. Has anyone looked at eXe? Yeah I mean, you probably know more about eXe than I do because I’ve not really used eXe, but again, eXe is something – it’s a little more like a sort of HTML-based tool for creating objects.
Again, it’s free to download, and you can create nice things. And actually, I think eXe is very useful, again, as an OER aggregator. There aren’t any really good OER aggregators about at the moment. So eXe is sometimes quite useful in that respect.
So again, you get the kind of standard page, you create pages, and then you sort of add components, again, in the same way, and the components are slightly templated for you. So, for someone like me, who would probably approach something like Dreamweaver with quite a bit of trepidation, this gives me fairly straightforward boxes, and I can do the things I want to do. I can add images, I can add text.
The nice thing is, it gives you a very easy way of linking to other documents, and you’ll be able to package with all your other documents in there, whether they’re Word documents, whatever else. So actually, in terms of aggregating OER together, it’s quite useful, I think. So again, just choosing activities, adding them, adding links to files, and then eventually, again, packaging that up so that you can take it away.
And again, I’m not sure if this is going to work. There’s some examples of things developed in eXe. Not sure whether I’m ... So this is something developed in eXe, looking at moving and handling in emergency situations. And it’s actually using – if it’s going to play – it’s using videos from Leeds, I think.


The nice thing about eXe is it gives you lots of easy ways to bring in the sort of content you might want to bring in, such as Word documents, HTML pages, actually linking to web pages, bringing in RSS feeds, and things like that. So it’s quite nice from that perspective, really.
Yes, there are. I mean, again, there are templated multiple choice in here. But the other thing is, obviously there’s lots of things out there for creating interactivity – crossword makers, multiple-choice makers, and so on – that you can access. And the nice thing about eXe is that you can pull all those in, so the learner doesn’t necessarily need to know that they’re moving somewhere – a different resource. It’s all part of the same thing.
Basically, yeah, it is. And then the last thing I was going to talk to you about is some of the PowerPoint conversion tools. I don’t know, again, if anyone’s used any of these tools for converting PowerPoint into Flash.
Yeah. Okay. I mean, probably, for me, personally, it’s the one I use the most because I just know PowerPoint. So, again, there are a couple of things that you might look at. Now, these aren’t free. Well, Articulate certainly is not free – it’s quite expensive. It’s probably about 800 pounds for a version of the software. iSpring is ... you can download a free version of iSpring. But these allow you to work in PowerPoint really to create learning object type resources.
And really, you go through these steps of taking a PowerPoint, saying, okay, here’s my PowerPoint. And again, if you look at OER, there’s a lot of PowerPoints out there. People tend to stick PowerPoints up into things like slide share and sort of say, oh, there’s OER. And you look at it and think, well, it might have been usable in its original context, but maybe it’s not quite so usable in another context. And this is perhaps a way of allowing you to look at your PowerPoint and make it slightly more reusable.
So you basically sort of go through, amend the presentation – you can add narrations, and you can add interactivity in different ways. So, just as a very quick example, this was a midwife who came to me and said, I’ve got this PowerPoint on food hygiene, and I want to develop it as a little resource to give to my students so they can work on it at home. I normally give it as a lecture. It doesn’t work very well as a lecture, and I want to use it as something they can use at home.
So this was the PowerPoint that she came to me with. Quite a bit of text there, really. And so we said, okay, let’s look at this and see how we can actually look at converting this into a little learning object type resource that people can use.
So the first thing we said was – and with any resource, you probably have to put a little bit of context in there. To make it stand alone, to make it portable, you might need a bit of an introduction, you might need to think about how it’s going to navigate, some bits you might want to expand, and some bits you probably want to cut out. And, certainly if you’ve got an hour-long lecture, you probably want to think about breaking it down into sections.
Then we thought about the design. This was a design we came up with. There’s a bit of a green theme going on here, but this was the design we came up with for it. So this is all done in PowerPoint – there’s nothing very complex about this really at all. Sort of this nice picture of some lettuce, and so on – nice and healthy.
And then we developed this little wheel – button wheel. And the buttons just work by hyperlinks in PowerPoint. If you click on that bun, it says go to slide 52 or whatever. And likewise, there’s a menu here that just works by hyperlinking slides together. So it’s all really done in PowerPoint.
Then, writing the narration. And we spend quite a bit of time working with people about writing narration. How is it going to sound if it’s narrated? It’s not the same as a written document. And in Articulate, certainly, what we suggest to people is that you put the narration actually in the slide notes. And Articulate, if you’re using the template, will actually pick up the slide notes and display them for you if you so wish.
And then, looking at the slide design – so here’s one with causes of food poisoning – and there’s lots of bullet points – and we converted that into something, using OER, images, and so on, that is a bit more visual, with mouldy bread, and so on. And then adding interactivity. You can add interactivity actually quite simply, either by hyperlinking slides together, you can create little things – even little sort of quizzes – by hyperlinking to different slides. If you hit on this, go to that slide there, and so on.
You can use custom animation type settings in PowerPoint, and then there are interactive tools within things like Articulate and iSpring. They come with little interactive tools, quiz makers, and so on. Or again, can you can pull in web interactions. And the thing I like about Articulate is it will run web pages actually inside the framework, so again, the student doesn’t feel that they’re leaving. Or you can actually import Flash-based resources as well.
It’s only at this point really, you need to go into Articulate – I was just showing about hyperlinks and animations. And in Articulate, as I say, you have these sort of quiz makers, and so on that you can use if you so wish, or there are lots of free quiz makers out there that you can pull in.
Recording the narration – you can do that, actually, within Articulate, or you can record it separately and pull the files in. Just a case of sort of setting up the template you want to use. Looking at how the slides are going to move one to another. And then that’s it, really. So maybe I’ll show you, if this is going to work – so this is the resource that we’ve developed from that PowerPoint that ... For some reason it’s not ...


As a midwife or health care professional, you will be involved in the preparation and delivery of food to your client room. A knowledge of food hygiene is essential in order to protect and promote the health of those you’re caring for. This is at the heart of your professional responsibility. Take a look at the NMC code that guides the professional conduct of midwives and nurses. Drag the correct words onto the blank spaces to complete the statement.
... not going to go through all that. Actually, this is a slight cheat, because this is the little Flash animation that we pulled in.
Now take a look at the health care professions [INAUDIBLE]. Legislation aims to protect consumers from illness, death or injury, and to ensure that food is nutritious and safe to eat. Employers must ensure that anyone who deals with food as part of their work is given training appropriate to the work they do. This applies to health trusts and care environments. But remember, you are personally accountable for your actions and omissions in practice.
Some of the legislation that you need to be aware of includes Regulation EC number 852 (2004) on the hygiene of foodstuffs, and the food hygiene regulations for England (2005), and the equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
I won’t go into ...
 ... Safer Foods for Better Business website, food hygiene is more than just ...


Okay, I won’t go all the way through it, but you can have a look at some of these. So, what I suppose I’m saying is, these things are out there to use and, if I can use them, really anyone can, because I’m not at all technical, as you probably witnessed with my use of the computer. And they’re there. You can use them either to create OER – to create these bits to glue OER together, or sometimes even to aggregate OER together.
So what I’d like us to do is maybe have half an hour before coffee for you to have a look at some of these tools. They’re all available. As I say, Glomaker you can download as a free download. eXe you can. Xerte, I can give you a copy on a stick to have a look at. Articulate you can’t, because it’s a commercial product, but you can actually download a free 30-day trial, if you wanted to have a look at that.
And I think it’s just overdue to have a bit of a play with some of them.
And as I say, I’m not an expert in any of them, but I’ll try and help you actually go through. Okay?
Can I ask you how long it took to change that pamphlet?
That’s a good question. It does take a little bit of time. The good thing is, I think, in terms of expense, I didn’t have to involve one of our media developers, because I could just do that myself. Yeah, I mean, it would have taken a reasonable amount of time to do that. I don’t know off the top of my head how long it took me to do, but a few days of work to convert that and go through. But some of that you see was working with a tutor, going back and saying, what do you think of this? That kind of thing.
But, I think once you get into the flow of it, it’s fairly straightforward. And I have actually done things that perhaps aren’t as complex as this, where I’ve taken some of my lectures and just converted them, and been perhaps a little bit less rigorous in how I’ve gone about it, I suppose. So to get something that’s a bit more quick and dirty, really.
And how do you use those lectures again? [INAUDIBLE] Let’s take your best lecture and see if we can develop this as OER. And it would be something, I’d like to sell it to them as something that you can use again for the next five years, and it will save you time. Because that’s the only way I’m going to get them to invest their own time up front. So I just wondered how you’d actually use this.
In different ways. I mean, if it’s a lecture I’m giving, sometimes I would develop the Articulate and put some notes and so on, and give it to my students to use either before or after. Or if they prefer, instead of a lecture, although most of them don’t prefer to do that. Or sometimes, it is actually to replace a lecture.
So for this example here, the food hygiene, this was actually to replace a lecture that was given in this area, and the students can do it in their own time, and undertake an assessment, and so on, just to show that they’ve achieved the outcome. So there’s various ways. So yeah, I mean, and hopefully, this will be there for years to come now, and we can talk about in terms of saving time in that way, it will certainly allow the lecturer to use that time more efficiently, I would say. Perhaps rather than having to spend hours saying, food poisoning is caused by this, this and this, actually to sit down with the students, probably, and say, well, you’ve looked at that.
How do we address that in the health care environment? How do we start looking at hand hygiene and all those kinds of things? So I think it is – I mean, once they’re developed, they’re there. And it’s just a case of how you want to use them.
If OER is available for anybody to use, surely those people also need to have the same background programs to be able to alter it and adapt it?
No, no. To alter it and adapt it – yeah, if they wanted to alter it, they would, but you could make the PowerPoint available and, as I say, most of the work is in the PowerPoint, in terms of creating the links, and the design, and it’s only really – we tend to use Articulate to basically just zip it up, convert it into Flash, and compress it down. So you could certainly make the PowerPoint ... so you can make the end product available as an OER, and you can make the PowerPoint available as an OER.
And if somebody has Articulate or wants to download the free version, they can then modify it if they wish. Or they could put it into another PowerPoint converter. And as I say, there are some free converters, like iSpring has a free version that you could use. So, yeah, I think it still works in the realm of OER in that way. Or people might just take the PowerPoint and take bits out of the PowerPoint and make their own.
But the other tool – so all of the things I’ve shown you run independently of the tools. You don’t have to have the tool in order to run it. You just basically need Flash Player in order to run most of them. But you can, for most of them, download the tools free as well.
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