High quality rich media learning resources can support understanding of conceptual material, provide visual examples of practice and contextualise the broader learning experience. Interactive learning resources can provide a place for experiential engagement and experimentation with content and interaction with peers and teachers. Resources can be curated from those available commercially, within Open Educational Resource libraries or MOOCs, or developed and quality assured by teaching and educational design staff, students or media specialists. This element supports enhanced learner-content engagement.
High quality rich media learning resources can support understanding of conceptual material, provide visual examples of practice and contextualise the broader learning experience. Interactive learning resources can provide a place for experiential engagement and experimentation with content and interaction with peers and teachers.
The use of curriculum specific interactive learning resources, including audio, video, interactive multimedia and computer-based simulations has a long history, particularly in distance education contexts. Such resources have the potential to provide rich and deep engagement with content, and to support students’ learning through visualisation, exploration and embedded feedback. Contemporary online versions of such resources typically allow shared engagement with content or collaborative learning by communities of learners through synchronous and asynchronous discussion tools embedded within resources or through group simulated activities, for example within virtual environments, such as simulated laboratories, classrooms, or hospitals.
Many of these resources exploit the potency of role-play activities to immerse learners in complex social/human systems. Role play has long been used to provide immersive experiential learning involving the enacting of an improvisational role to problem solve, observe reactions to enactment and explore alternative responses to learning environments (Venable, 2001). In their evaluation of online role based software Russell and Shepherd (2010) identify a range of learning benefits from this teaching strategy. Dalgarno and Lee’s exploration of learning in 3D virtual environments found similar benefits which included “enhanced spatial knowledge representation, greater opportunities for experiential learning, increased motivation/engagement, improved contextualisation of learning and richer/more effective collaborative learning as compared to tasks made possible by 2D alternatives” (Dalgarno & Lee, 2010, p. 10). Although Wills, Leigh and Ip (2011) outlined a range of practical strategies to support application of online role play and simulation in higher education teaching, the use of such strategies is still not particularly widespread.
De Jong, Lin and Zacharia (2013) suggest that simulated laboratory experience can be an opportunity to develop student team-work abilities, cultivate interest in science, promote conceptual understanding, develop inquiry skills, and to experience the challenges many scientists face when planning experiments that require careful setup of equipment, troubleshooting of machinery and observations over a long time span. They observed the effectiveness of simulated laboratory experience in promoting conceptual knowledge, offering a cost effective advantage and an opportunity to investigate conjectures that are not possible in physical experiments.
Resources can be curated from those available commercially, within Open Educational Resource libraries or MOOCs, or developed and quality assured by teaching and educational design staff, students or media specialists.
One reason for the slow application of interactive resources is the fact that their development has traditionally been costly. New models are needed to acquire and obtain access to such resources for students. Such models can include the use of Open Educational Resources such as MOOCs, or collaborative ventures with other institutions to create resources suitable for use across a range of courses and subjects. In some cases the co-creation of resources can be a valuable learning experience for students and such resources can then become valuable learning resources for future student cohorts.
The Interactive Resources element is exemplified by:
- Video resources to contextualise online discussions.
- Rich media resources supporting problem based or cooperative learning activities.
- Critical reflection upon cases illustrated through photos, audio or video.
- Conceptual simulations supporting exploratory learning strategies.
- Immersive environments where students undertake simulated professional practice.
The TOL Learning Experience Framework, while encouraging designers to draw upon the OLM in a way which best meets the learning needs of the particular cohort, also recommends that the Interactive Resources element is enacted through high quality subject content including static and interactive digital resources, and learning activities supporting individual and cohort-based learning experiences.
Dalgarno, B., & Lee, M. (2010). What are the learning affordances of 3-D virtual environments? British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(1), 10-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.01038.x
De Jong, T., Linn, M. C., & Zacharia, Z. C. (2013). Physical and virtual laboratories in science and engineering education. Science, 340(6130), 305-308. doi:10.1126/science.1230579
Russell, C., & Shepherd, J. (2010). Online role play environments for higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(6), 992-1002. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.01048.x
Venable, B. B. (2001). Using role play to teach and learn aesthetics. Art Education, 54(1), 47-51.
Wills, S., Leigh, E., & Ip., A. (2011). The power of role-based e-learning: Designing and moderating online role play. New York: Routledge.