All entries for Monday 04 March 2019

March 04, 2019

Using and Creating RLOs – Abigail Ball

I have been an advocate of Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) for many years. RLOs are instructional design components that can be used for multiple purposes. They are usually small components that are developed for a specific use, but which can be conveniently reused in multiple settings, often with little or no editing. Some practitioners describe them as ‘Lego bricks'.

Oxford Brookes University (OBU), where I previously worked, took the decision to create an open access repository (known as RADAR) where it stores its publicly available research and teaching materials. This necessitated me becoming the creator and curator of a large collection (over 600 items) of RLOs on the subject of Technology Enhanced Learning. Topics included Moodle, Turnitin, Adobe Connect, GradeMark; generally all of the software that OBU used to support its learning and teaching activities.

What are the characteristics of RLOs?

  • Electronic – this makes them easy to store, curate and update
  • Multipurpose – they can be used in many different situations
  • Support their own learning objectives – each component can stand alone and still make sense
  • Contain metadata (keywords) – this makes them easily discoverable by search engines
  • Adaptable – they are easy to customise
  • Cohesive – they usually have a consistent template or layout
  • Compatible – they are learning management system (e.g. Moodle) or SCORM compliant
  • Bite-sized online content – they are quick to absorb and effective to use
  • Discrete entity in their own right – they usually include an online activity, some form of online assessment and an independent learning objective

These characteristics have been adapted from Pappas (2016).

Can I use anything as a RLO?

Broadly yes but some common examples might include:

  • Quizzes and tests
  • Visual resources (e.g. Mind Maps or web pages)
  • Icons and images
  • Problem-based learning materials
  • Exploratory learning materials
  • Performance support materials
  • Blended learning environments (e.g. Blackboard Collaborate recordings)
  • Role support tools (e.g. Mentoring resources)
  • Help resources (this is obviously a key one for my role)

What can I use to create a RLO?

Software or platforms you might want to consider include (but are not limited to):

  • H5P
  • Lesson (this is an activity in Moodle)
  • Quiz (this is an activity in Moodle)
  • SCORM creation packages e.g. Dipity, eXe or Xerte
  • Blackboard Collaborate (or other webinar software)
  • Lecture Capture
  • Personal Capture

What topics can I use for RLOs?

Again, anything really but as a good place to start you might want to consider:

  • Assignment briefs
  • FAQs
  • Mentor training (or other standalone training component)
  • Case studies e.g. safeguarding

Have you any examples of RLOs?

Since moving to Warwick I have continued the practice of making any support materials that I create, freely available, through the creation of a public CTE Academic Technologies portal. I personally have no problem with anyone reusing my resources but it does take a different mind-set to accept them repurposing those same resources for their own needs especially if you have put a lot of work into them.

If you decide you want to try creating RLOs then you need to start the process with the assumption that someone is going to change or adapt you work for their needs. This is not a criticism of your work. Think of it like a Lego brick – it can be used to build a Lego house or a Lego Millennium Falcon – your RLO can be used to create a standalone training component or be adapted to form part of an online course. The base Lego brick remains the same but the use it is put to is quite different.


Pappas, C. (2016) 'Developing Reusable Learning Objects: 9 Characteristics To Consider'. Available from: (Accessed 04 March 2019).

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