Before you attempt to upload anything online you need to think about the following:
Audience and purpose
You need to consider the audience and purpose for your open course/resource. Who will use it and for what reasons? Do they have specific needs or constraints? These are important questions you will need to think about when creating your open course. You may have a specific target audience in mind with very particular needs or you might be aiming at a broader range of people who have a general interest in your subject. You cannot possibly know the context of every potential learner studying your course, however to help you make the course cover as wide a range of users, needs and motivations for studying as possible, you could draw up personas of specific users to help you plan how to make the activities and content of your course accessible and engaging for everyone.
Write the learning outcomes of your course/resource as you consider audience and purpose. You may find the guide How to write learning outcomes by Bridget Winwood and Alison Purvis will help when writing learning outcomes which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.
Your open course or resource may be very short, simple and straightforward, however you still need to think about learning design and how your audience might benefit from a well-designed resource.
See the OU Learning Design Initiative for more information about learning design.
Alternatively, you may want to implement a less structure lead approach (considered by some as 'disruptive') to your course design by collaborating with others within your space to create materials together and move them around as the course design emerges from different content contributions by each author.
Structure and Metadata
It is good practice to structure your open course or resource from the start. This is partly because moving things around might be more time consuming later. However, if you are opting for a very simple, single page design or are collaborating with others in your space create the course, this will be less important at the start, though you may want to review the structure later.
Structuring the course can mean creating a storyboard for your course and collating a set of assets before beginning to decide how best to display and deliver the course. It will also help you decide which Moodle resources and activities are the most suitable to use for each part of the 'story' of your course.
You need to ensure that you complete the metadata (data about your course) to make it easy to find in online searches - if useful metadata is not included, then search engines will not find your course, even though OpenLearn Create is Google indexed. Metadata includes keywords or tags, labels and descriptions.
It is usually a good idea for an open course to have the following elements:
- Course overview - A section with useful information about the OER (you might call this 'week 0' or 'before you start')
- Learning outcomes which explain to potential learners what they can expect to learn by studying the course - see How to write learning outcomes
- A straightforward logical structure that reflects the amount of material included and the time the user might spend working through the OER - it is also helpful to provide an approximate time each activity in the OER may take to complete (for example Activity 2, Title of activity, 20 minutes).
- Overview text for each section/week/topic if the OER is divided in this way
- A Where next section for what users might do after they've completed the course
- Some form of evaluation of the course (questionnaire, survey) and assessment (e.g. self-assessment, quizzes, badges)
- Acknowledgements page - essential if some of the resources you include in your OER are not your copyright and good to have for proper acknowledgement of who was involved in writing your OER. Set up an acknowledgments page with information about authors, other contributors and a list of all resources used for which you do not own the copyright and have cleared the copyright to use. You need to include full attribution information Title, Author, Source and Licence for each resource used even if you have given attribution information with the resources elsewhere in the course (for example in a caption for an image).
Good examples of Acknowledgements pages include those of Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice, Understanding Parkinson's for health and social care staff and How to make an open online course.
- A list of References for resources you have cited will show your course is based on credible, valid data as well as knowledge and experience of those involved in writing the course.
You need to decide how the course is displayed on screen - make several hours of study more manageable for learners by dividing the material into sections, weeks or topics with each of these on a different page. For a very short study time all the material could probably be on one page (freeform).
Although you can write directly into your open course or resource and create it online in collaboration with others, it is a good idea to do most of your drafting in a word processing package first so you can get the structure and content right. Alternatively you could collaborate with others online to create your content using Google docs or other similar tools.
Please note, writing for online learning is not like writing a book - for guidance on how to write your online course, see How to make an open online course.
In addition to text, you need to collate all the images, figures, diagrams and video / audio material you wish to use and check that you have the relevant permissions to use these resources. It is helpful to create an inventory of these items to help you keep track of them.
Publishing your open course or resource on OpenLearn Create carries the expectation that, where possible, the content you are reusing/creating has been released under the CC-BY-NC-SA version 4.0 creative commons licence. For all material you want to use that cannot be released under this licence you must have obtained permission to reuse and the source must be attributed accordingly in your Acknowledgements page. Find out more about copyright (this link takes you to another website).
It is always good practice to consider how your open education resource might be used by people with visual impairment, dyslexia, mental health conditions or other special requirements. Alternative formats, transcriptions of video or audio resources and captioning of video resources are all things you need to include if you are to make your OER accessible to as many people as possible. One of the advantages with providing accessible resources is that learners who have no disabilities also find alternative formats useful, depending on the context in which they are learning. For example transcripts can help students follow a video and make notes more easily.
All images you use in your OER will need long descriptions so that screen reader software can tell learners who have visual impairments what is included in the image. For example:
- A diagram, graph or flowchart which contains any text in the image must have a long description (alt description) which includes all of this text in a logical way.
- A picture needs a description to explain what is happening in the picture.
It is best to write long descriptions for images as you are authoring a course and choosing images to use, to avoid a last minute panic before publishing. Ideally images need to have captions as well (with attribution information if the image is not yours).
Assessment and rewards
You may decide that you want learners to enrol on your course and work through assessment activities to earn a statement of participation and / or a course badge.OpenLearn Create has the functionality to support open badges. You will need to work out what the assessment criteria will be for your course badge, complete the project request form and email it to email@example.com so the OpenLearn Create team can review it and discuss your course with you. Subsequently you will need to design your badge, complete and submit a badge details form which will be sent to you once your badge request has been reviewed.
This guide explains how to create Open Educational Resources using the standard Moodle functionality of OpenLearn Create.This user guide is under development. If you discover anything in it which doesn't seem clear enough or a resource or activity tool which doesn't work properly, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: the subpage resource is no longer compatible with core Moodle. Courses using subpages will still function however it is no longer be possible to add new subpages to courses as of 16 March 2023. We suggest you use Book or Page instead for your course content. We are looking into the functionality of the new generation version of subpages which are being used on the OU student VLE.