Creating an Open Online Educational Resource to Support Learners as They Navigate Their Studies Alongside Work and/or Family




open education resource, work-family-study, mental well-being, higher education


As labour markets undergo rapid and profound transformations, lifelong learning is essential to ensure a responsive, competitive, and skilled workforce. Mature learners are a diverse group, but in comparison to their younger student counterparts, are more likely to have employment and/or caring responsibilities. This field note discusses the development and features of a novel online open educational resource, called At a crossroads: Navigating work and/or family alongside study (At a crossroads for brevity). The resource aimed to assist university students to both learn about the support options available to them as well as to consider how they themselves might make decisions if they experienced a conflict between their student/work/family roles. At a crossroads is innovative in terms of how it was developed (i.e., via survey-based research, story completion method, and consultations sessions with tertiary students) and in terms of what it is (i.e., an online interactive resource that incorporates short dramatizations, social polls, and opportunities to reflect). Our experience in developing this resource caused us to consider how making resources designed to be engaging and informative, while encouraging, positive changes, must be part of the solution. This is especially so when there is significant concern around the overall well-being of tertiary students and their course completion rates. While universities have attempted to offer a range of tools to support their students, on-demand online resources such as At a crossroads are easily accessed, free to use, and deliver content in an engaging manner.

Author Biographies

Philippa Waterhouse, School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, The Open University

PHILIPPA WATERHOUSE is a Senior Lecturer in Health in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at the Open University; email: Her research interests include exploring the interface between work, family and student roles and their consequences in relation to health. 

Naomi Moller, School of Psychology and Counselling, The Open University

NAOMI MOLLER is Professor of Psychology and Psychotherapy in the School of Psychology and Counselling in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Open University; email Her research interests include the wellbeing and mental health of students in Higher Education.


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How to Cite

Waterhouse, P., & Moller, N. (2024). Creating an Open Online Educational Resource to Support Learners as They Navigate Their Studies Alongside Work and/or Family. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 25(1), 226–239.



Notes From the Field