A La Mode Case Study

February 5, 2011, by Teaching at Nottingham

A la mode: Setting a fashion for practical re-use of teaching materials

Steve Stapleton and John Horton:


Types of Learners: Undergraduate level 1
Environment: blended course, predominantly e-learning with additional supporting methodologies.
Intended outcome(s) To produce a handout used as part of a practical exercise about the statistical packages SPSS and Excel.
The challenge To produce the handout in the absolute shortest time possible yet not sacrifice any quality.


With no handout previously in existence, the practice would have been for the practitioner to write the document (including capturing screen shots) from scratch. Although there are only five pages, these have 15 screen shots and all the text is very concise. The estimated time for producing such an information-dense document from scratch (including planning) is one day.

The use of OER saved time for the practitioner with the local amendments taking only 30 minutes against an estimate of one day for writing it from scratch. The time freed, gave the practitioner the opportunity to work on high value activities and the learners involved in those. The students using the handout benefit from the time taken by the original author (time not available to the Nottingham author) to provide a concise overview of SPSS. They benefit from the local contextualisation added by the Nottingham author and from exposure to two view points of the topic.

Key points for effective practice

  • Time saved
  • Original document found in Xpert repository (first page of results) using SPSS as the keyword
  • Local contextualisation added (course/IT/stylistic preferences)
  • Accessibility improved (a serif font replaced by a sans serif font)
  • Attribution given in line with OER best practice Blogging resulted in a request for the handout within hours…saving yet more time

Repurposed document will be submitted to Humbox and Jorum Open repositories to complete the circle of re-use; local version already in institutional VLE


Time was not wasted designing a document that already existed elsewhere, the design efforts were focused solely on making editorial changes for the local context.

It is always good practice to search OER repositories before setting out to produce course materials.

Where to find the resource


A search for SPSS returns the original resource on page 1: SPSS basics.doc (4)

Case study: Handout

Re-purpose and re-use of a Statistics handout, saving time and resource. [January 2011]

Case study written up by Steve Stapleton and Dr John Horton, Libraries, Research and Learning Resources

Posted in Open educational resourcesSustainability