Designing Open Educational Resources through Knowledge Maps to Enhance Meaningful Learning

By Alexandra Okada and Teresa Connolly.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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 supported by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was launched in October 2006 and in the two year period of its existence has released over 8,100 learning hours of the OU’s distance learning resources for free access and modification by learners and 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 video-conferencing 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 illustrate the 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.

Keywords: Open Educational Resources, Knowledge Maps, Meaningful Learning

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp.209-220. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.566MB).

Dr. Alexandra Okada

Researcher, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Dr. Alexandra Okada is a researcher in knowledge mapping at The Open University - Knowledge Media Institute and a visiting Lecturer at FGV University in Brazil. Her interests focus Open Learning, Collaborative Communities and Knowledge Cartography. She is also involved as a researcher in e-learning projects, open sensemaking communities and knowledge media tools in the OpenLearn project.

Teresa Connolly

The Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Teresa Connolly is an Open Educational Resources Lecturer. She worked previously in Kingston University as an Educational Technology Leader in the Faculty of Science and as an Academic Developer in the Academic Development Centre. She held a Teaching Fellowship for her work on the GIS Distance Learning Programme.


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