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Reusable Learning Object Specification Application


RLO Specification System

Over the last few months Aaron has been utilising free time during evenings and weekends to develop an online system to allow content authors to create a Reusable Learning Object (RLO) Specification.

The Problem

This side project is an effort to find a solution to the problem of RLO specifications, which are traditionally produced within a Word template, becoming large and unwieldy documents which do not translate well to digital learning resources.

This problem was very much part of an RLO development project Aaron worked on earlier this year and led Aaron to question whether there was a better way to produce a specification which would allow the content author to easily transition between the authoring mind-set to a user mind-set.

Potential Solution

Aaron has found that content authors create very thorough specifications but sometimes lose sight of the user experience of the resulting learning resource. This is in part due to there being a significant change in perspective required and the process of taking that well-structured and written document and then envisaging it as a digital multi-page resource is a difficult one. Importantly all content authors are users and in Aaron’s experience when the authors see their work developed in to a digital learning resource for the first time, they instantly switch in to a user and are able to see if there is too much text, too many sections, not enough brakes in blocks of text. Aaron hopes to harness this and enable the author to perform a rapid shift in perspective during the specification creation process.

Aaron has tried hard to align this online system with the HELM Team’s specification documentation (as used in the APSIRE framework) and printing the specification will provide a document which is almost identical to the existing word template. However the system has the ability to, at the press of a button, take that specification and display a multipage RLO demonstrator, utilising the same presentation approach used in HELM Team RLOs allowing the content author to see a demonstration version of their specification. This includes the ability to view on different devices, exploring how the content may work on a small screen device.

Aaron is also looking to leverage some of the extensive learning resource development experience which the HELM team has and offer this to the content author during their use of the system. Indicating a large word count in a section of the resource or indicating that the resource has a large number of sections are some of the ways this is achieved. Aaron is also keen to keep the defined learning objectives up front and centre with these been present on new content creation and editing areas of the system.

Resource Introduction

View of sections within system

System generated preview of RLO

System generated preview of RLO

Where Next?

Aaron presented this work to the HELM Team in August 2016 and is now looking to move the project forwards through testing this system with willing content authors and gaining their feedback. Aaron has also raised the potential of this system being offered to learners taking part in the HELM MOOC in early 2017.

System generated small-screen preview of RLO

System generated print version of the specification


  • Codeigniter (PHP Framework)
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • JQuery
  • Bootstrap

The article was viewable from Friday, 2nd September 2016.

Author: Aaron Fecowycz