Open Source E-Learning Development 20: Reusable E-Learning Object Authoring & Delivery Suite

A complete change of pace today as I take a look at an open source suite of tools designed to imageenable e-learning professionals to create, manage, and deliver specifications-based learning. Hopefully, I have been able to persuade you of the benefits and advantages of the tools and technologies that I have featured in this E-Learning Curve Blog series on e-learning content development using open source and free-to-use authoring applications and that you will consider using them in your current and future e-learning initiatives.

One of the perennial questions e-learning professionals ask is “how can I ensure that my content is interoperable with a range of content delivery platforms?”

The Reusable Learning Object Authoring and Delivery (RELOAD) project is a UK-based JISC-funded initiative which develops tools to facilitate the use of learning technology interoperability specifications including ADL and IMS.

According to the RELOAD Project team,

The tools are designed to provide the crucial “missing link” which allows users to author and transfer learning objects – in specification compliant format – between authoring and design tools, local and distributed digital repositories, and virtual learning environments (VLEs).

RELOAD tools include a Metadata and Content Packaging Editor and a Learning Design Editor. They are designed to:

  • facilitate the creation, sharing and reuse of learning objects and services
  • enhance the range of pedagogical approaches realizable through the use of lesson plans

RELOAD consists of two strands of deliverables. The first strand focuses on developing a set of open source tools. The second, smaller set of deliverables is a set of user guides and exemplars for disseminating and integrating the project tools. The project’s open source tools are designed to facilitate learning object packaging and delivery. Table 1 describes the features and function of each application in the suite. Click on the links find out more and to to download each tools.

Click here to access the user guides, tutorials, and examples.

Table 1 RELOAD Project Tools

IconName & LinkDescription
image Metadata and Content Packaging EditorThe key aim of the RELOAD project is the implementation of a reference-standard Content Package and Metadata Editor. The RELOAD Editor enables users to organize, aggregate and package learning objects in standard IMS and SCORM content packages tagged with Metadata (in various subsets) and vocabularies.
imageLearning Design EditorThe Learning Design Editor (based on the IMS Learning Design specifications) allows the creation of re-usable “Pedagogical Templates” allowing the user to define a set of Learning Objectives, Activities and Learning Environments. These templates can be re-purposed with the user’s own content to create on-line Learning Design compliant resources.
imageSCORM PlayerAlso available is an ADL SCORM Player. This toolkit allows the playing of SCORM 1.2 packages within a developer edition of the Player.
imageLearning Design PlayerThe Learning Design Player (based on the IMS Learning Design specifications) allows the user to “play” a Unit of Learning. The user may pick any of the Roles and work through the sequence of Plays, Acts, Activities and Environments.
imageColloquia VLE Colloquia is a free, open source VLE that supports group working based on setting up learning groups on specific topics (context). Each learning group can involve users of different roles (teachers and learners), the use of learning objects, group tasks and individual assignments.

In a pedagogic context, RELOAD subscribes to a Cisco Systems-originated RLO/RIO [PDF file] approach to learning object-based content delivery with an emphasis on “create [content] once, reuse many times.” Existing learning technology interoperability standards and specifications are designed to ensure the reusability of educational content within different authoring environments, content repositories and delivery platforms such as virtual and managed learning environments (VLEs/MLEs). Emerging learning technology interoperability specifications, in particular IMS Simple Sequencing and IMS Learning Design, provide pedagogical frameworks which enable significantly more effective use of learning resources.

In the opinion of the RELOAD Project team, much valuable material is not reaching a wider audience and fails to fulfill its full educational potential.

This represents a significant loss in terms of the investment of teaching and learning resources. Common barriers to the reuse and adoption of materials include resources that are too large and monolithic, are tailored to a single institution or department’s requirements, that are only able to address a specific learning scenario or are bound to a single delivery platform. One strategy which offers a potential solution to these problems is to re-purpose existing resources to form ‘learning objects’. A learning object could be defined as:

“an entity, digital or non-digital, that can be used, re-used, or referenced during technology supported learning” (Koper, 2001).

To be truly reusable, the authors assert, “learning objects must also be accessible, editable and reconfigurable.” RELOAD is designed to enable learners to locate objects, change unsuitable components, combine learning objects in a variety of different organizational structures and exchange them among heterogeneous content management systems and LMSs:

The only way that these goals can be achieved is to produce, package and deliver learning objects together with references to the associated learning services (assessment, chat etc.), in a format that complies with learning technology interoperability standards and specifications – this is the main objective of RELOAD.




Koper, R. (2001) Modeling units of study from a pedagogical perspective the pedagogical meta-model behind EML. Educational Technology Expertise Centre, Open University of the Netherlands.

Reusable Learning Object Authoring and Delivery Project (2009). [Internet] Available from: http://www.reload.ac.uk [Accessed 28 November 2009]


  1. If you are interested in Reload, you might like to look at the ReCourse Learning Design Editor, produced by the same team. This has many advantages over Reload if you what you want to do is produce IMS LD Units of Learning.
    You can read about it and download the application at http://www.tencompetence.org/ldauthor

    • Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment, Dai. Thanks for the tip; I’ll certainly investigate ReCourse Learning Design Editor.
      Best regards,

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