Is OER different from Reusable Learning Objects (RLO)? What are the similarities and differences?


An RLO is a digital learning object that can be reused, scaled, and shared from a central online repository to help facilitate and support learning activities (Source). RLOs represent an alternative approach to content development. In this approach, content is broken down into chunks. From a pedagogical perspective, each chunk might play a specific role within an instructional design methodology, and may be interchanged and exchanged, depending on the needs or characteristics of the learners (Source). Each RLO supports a single learning objective. They vary in size, scope and level of granularity ranging from small chunks of instruction to a series of combined resources to provide a more complex learning experience (Source). RLOs are essentially OERs with permission for reuse.

Both RLOs and OERs offer educators the opportunity to embed pre-created applicable learning content directly into the course material. Their use is becoming ever more widespread as universities benefit from the advantages of both creating learning objects and repurposing existing material; enriching the student experience and improving recruitment, retention, and progression within the institution.

There are many advantages of using RLOs and OERs to reinforce learning and engage students in the subject matter:

  • They are often freely available, online and at no cost.
  • They are reusable and negate any duplication of delivery.
  • Using pre-authored content can save time, enabling staff to focus on face to face contact with students.
  • Digital learning objects can be embedded directly into the institutional Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) facilitating off campus and distance learning

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