If OER is so easy, why isn’t every graduate program doing it? (Hint, it’s not that easy)

Concurrent Session 9

Brief Abstract

This presentation will relate experiences navigating the challenges of developing a new online MBA program with OER content. The presenters will outline issues faced, solutions explored, and lessons learned (so far). They will also report the initial results of research examining the perceptions of students and faculty participating in the program.


Carey Hamburg is a senior instructional designer in the Office of Distance Learning. His background is in Art, Education, and Technology Integration. Carey is a graduate of UL Lafayette and completed an MA in Communication at the University of South Alabama, with a focus in Multimedia Training Development. He has worked in a variety of educational settings as an instructor of both art and technology. Carey enjoys seeing the connections that emerge as educators and students explore the creative and effective possibilities of educational technology.
Dr. Luke Dowden is the founding Director of Distance Learning at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he has served for 8 years. He is an alumni of the OLC Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL). In 2014, Dr. Dowden received the Bruce N. Chaloux Award for Early Career Excellence in Online Education from OLC. He excels in areas of online program development, accelerated learning pedagogy, fiscal management of an online learning enterprise, faculty professional development and change management.

Extended Abstract

Designing and developing a new online degree program is a huge challenge. Adopting an Open Educational Resources (OER) model for all instructional materials adds a layer of complexity. Yet, finding high quality OER for a graduate level program can feel like an impossible feat.


Many institutions have launched OER efforts and their successes have led the way for the expanding offerings of OER materials. Currently most of these efforts have been at the certification and undergraduate levels, with few venturing into the realm of graduate degree programs. Creating an online graduate program poses all of the expected developmental challenges, plus some additional complications due to the lack of appropriate OER content, the rigor and nature of graduate materials, and the expectations of graduate faculty.


This presentation will examine our experience navigating those challenges and complications while developing a new online MBA program. The presenters will outline the issues faced, solutions explored, and the lessons learned (so far). One goal of the presentation is to broaden the understanding of these speed-bumps and milestones in support of the larger community of OER course developers in general, and those in particular who are engaged in building OER capacity at the graduate level.


Participants will evaluate one evolving structure for supporting course designers in locating, evaluating, and selecting graduate level OER content. Presenters will include a discussion on best practices for orienting faculty and students, unfamiliar with OER, to the nature of that content and the availability of search sites and other resources. Hurdles with accessibility, formatting, and file variations will be shared. The presentation will communicate strategies for customizing, editing, and correcting what otherwise would have been sub-quality learning materials, thanks to the “open” nature of OER!


As part of the presentation will report on the preliminary finding of a mixed-methods study of students and faculty participating in the first 2 sessions of the online MBA catalog. The factors examined are perceptions of quality, value, accessibility, and effectiveness of OER content. The presenters will recommend a criteria-based rubric that we adopted for evaluating and selecting learning materials. Finally, the audience will discuss emerging technology to manage the lifecycle of OER. Time will be reserved at the end for questions and other discussions as well.