Content Tour


Learning object from OER Commons

Open-Source eLearning Repositories

While I have been a fan and supporter of Khan Academy and OER Commons, after being exposed to the repository’s NROC project from the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, I have a new learning platform to advocate for. I enjoyed the simplicity of the learning objects, and the fact that the instructor did not take for granted that the leaner already had pre-requisite knowledge about the topic. Unfortunately, is multimedia only, unlike the OER Commons repository.

I like the way OER Commons learning objects have a mixture of printable resources, outside links to stimulate higher-level thinking, as well as videos and interactive activities. To me the objects in OER are more geared toward eLearning and they are truly reusable learning objects. While videos are nice, learners need a variety of tools to engage in the learning process.

Comparing Open-Source Repositories

Which is better?

One of the main differences is that NROC modules seem to be geared towards providing a lesson with examples instead of just a review/study guide for learners (like khan academy). NROC seems like it would be a better learning tool for online students as the look and visual appeal is conducive to an eLearning environment.

However, the learning objects on the OER Commons site are more comprehensive and are more adaptable, self-contained, and non-sequential which are some important characteristics for reusable learning objects (RLO’s).

Variety is the Spice for Learning

The OER Commons site offers a variety of learning objects from readings, lesson plans, activities, assessments and complete modules, basically something for everyone.

I chose to focus on the Adding & Subtracting Polynomials lesson, because there are six separate tasks (learning objects) that are independent of each other but all cover the variety of learning styles in each learning object. They are all share the same objective “Adding and Subtracting Polynomials” but can be easily reused for different content and learning objectives. The first task is to engage pre-requisite knowledge, the next task is to explore the concept, then a discussion activity, an assessment, a problem-based learning (PBL) activity, and finally a reflection activity.

Parts or Whole?

Whether an instructor wants to deliver this module as an entire lesson or break it apart and assign different portions to students, they are all self-contained (except for the assessment).

While part of the assignment was to re-imagine the design of the LO and discuss how we would make it better, I can’t possibly make it any better. According to Christopher Pappas (2016), the RLO must be tech-centered, multipurpose, support its own learning objectives, contain metadata, be easily adaptable, cohesive, compatible, have bite-sized eLearning content, and possibly come as a complete package. This RLO covers all nine of the important characteristics that make it effective.

The Take Away

eLearning should be Student-Centered

Overall, OER Commons,, and other open-source repositories have a cornucopia of digital learning resources. For educators and instructional designers, it depends on what you are looking for, there is something for everyone available. Narrow down what your needs are as far as the instructional strategy, and choose a learning object that fulfills that objective. Make sure you pay attention the “conditions of use”, whether you can remix or share only.


Clark, R.C. and Mayer, R. (2016). E-Learning and the Science of Instruction (4th ed). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey.

Pappas, C. (2016). Developing Reusable Learning Objects: 9 Characteristics to consider. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from

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