Reusing Learning Materials in English Literature and Language


Brief Description

Screenshot of the LAMS software

Screenshot of the LAMS software

This project formed part of the English Subject Centre’s response to a substantial e-learning funding initiative instigated by the Higher Education Academy in association with the JISC in its ‘Distributed E-learning’ strand (Phase 1).

The principle aims of this project were to:

  1. Elicit the key issues associated with the sharing and reuse of e-learning resources among lecturers in English departments
  2. Explore the suitability within those departments of the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS)

Project design

  1. An online questionnaire was administered to teaching staff at the University of Leicester, Oxford and Oxford Brookes (total 32 respondents), and graduate students at Oxford (28 respondents).
  2. Interviews and think-aloud protocols were conducted with three tutors and one graduate student from the above institutions.
  3. Surveys of undergraduate students were carried out in each of the above universities after they had worked through a learning activity sequence in LAMS (total 41 respondents).

Project results

In relation to aim 1 (key issues associated with sharing and reuse)

  1. The reuse of learning materials created by others can take three forms: a) incorporation of existing materials into one’s own teaching without modification; b) adaptation of existing materials to fit one’s own teaching; c) using existing materials as a source of ideas only. The most prevalent forms are b) and c); a) is relatively uncommon.
  2. The majority of tutors reuse learning materials created by others between 5% and 50% of the time.
  3. The learning materials that are most reused are primary texts, secondary research texts, images and reading lists.
  4. Although Internet search engines and Websites are widely used in sourcing materials for possible reuse, personal acquaintance plays an important role.
  5. The overwhelming majority of questionnaire respondents were prepared to make some or all of their learning materials available for use by others inside and/or outside their home institutions.
  6. Print remains a preferred medium for making one’s learning materials available, although VLEs (in the “home” institution), Web sites and online repositories are also considered acceptable.
  7. The principal barriers to the sharing of learning materials include pragmatic issues (teaching material is contextualised to the class and tutor) and concerns over the individual’s reputation (the materials are not fully representative of their teaching and scholarship). Copyright issues are a relatively minor impediment.

In relation to aim 2 (the suitability of LAMS to HE), the report findings suggest that, although the LAMS’ graphical representation of a learning activity sequence affords useful opportunities for tutors to reflect on their pedagogy, the types of learning which it supports are somewhat restricted at university level, and there is insufficient demand for sequences of learning activities to warrant its widespread adoption by university English departments.
In considering the potential for the establishment of online repositories of reusable learning materials for English studies, the project authors noted that:

  1. Although reuse extends to a variety of different types of materials, the actual number of types that are appropriate for storage in publicly accessible repositories is mainly limited to multimedia items: images, audio and video clips. This is because:
    • Print continues to be the dominant medium for publishing peer-reviewed research texts.
    • Course outlines, reading lists and lecture notes tend to be specific to individual institutions and tutors.
  2. Where the requirements for, and benefits, of online repositories can be demonstrated, it would appear that:
    • Local repositories are more appropriate for sharing materials across the whole domain of English.
    • National repositories are more appropriate for sharing materials specific to subdivisions of the domain (e.g. Old English literature).

As part of the investigation we commissioned a “core group” of participants to develop a number of LAMS sequences for English. These are available for inspection on the LAMS server hosted by Oxford University Computing Services. (see details below)

Project dissemination to date

  • Introduction to the learning designs , examples and survey results published on the English Subject Centre website.
  • Increase in staff expertise in the possible uses of this platform, which is due to become open source early in 2005.
  • Dissemination at appropriate events.

Report & Sequences

Project leader

Dr Stuart Lee
Head of Learning Technologies Group
Oxford University Computer Services
13 Banbury Road
Oxford, OX2 6NN

Project Partners

Professor Rob Pope
Oxford Brookes University

Mr Richard Francis
Head of Media Workshop, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Julie Coleman
University of Leicester


Related Links


Project completed October 2005