More Than Just Affordable: Implementing OER To Engage Students and Impact Learning

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Making OER a game-changer for learning impact takes more than cutting textbook costs. Join this session to test-drive Lumen’s Waymaker OER courseware with intelligent messaging tools that deepen student engagement and offer just-in-time help. Learn how Broward College’s implementation empowers instructors to save time and strengthen their students’ success.


Julie Curtis is vice president of strategy and communications for Lumen Learning, where she evangelizes the use of open educational resources to improve education affordability, access and student success. Working in higher education technology for more than a decade, Julie has led initiatives around strategic collaboration, thought leadership, new product introduction, marketing research and strategic communications. Julie holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brigham Young University.
Dr. Ayers is Dean, Information Technology, and Online Campus Lead for Open and Competency-Based Education at Broward College based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is also currently serving as Broward’s Project Lead for an Achieving the Dream (ATD) OER Degree Initiative grant. Previously, Dr. Ayers was Vice President of Education at Anthem Education, where he provided strategic leadership, planning and implementation around academic affairs initiatives. Prior to that position, Dr. Ayers served in a variety of administrative and academic roles at Barry University, including Executive Associate Dean, Assistant Dean for Information Technology and Assistant Professor of Organizational Leadership. Throughout his career, Dr. Ayers has taught at the college level, with an academic focus on management and information systems. He holds a Ph.D. from Barry University and master's degrees from Harvard University, Barry University and Florida International University, as well as a bachelor of science degree from Saint Peter's University.

Extended Abstract

Session Prep: As participants enter the session, they are invited to share an email address with the presenter team in order to receive an invitation to join the hands-on demonstration. A member of the team will send them an invitation to join the demo course at an appropriate point during the session. Since this session involves a hands-on demo and a collaborative team-oriented discussion, it would be helpful to schedule in a room with seating in banquet rounds or classroom setting, if possible.

Part 1: Introduction.

This session opens with a brief overview of open educational resources (OER) and the potential benefits they offer students. The presenters then pose the question: What factors should go into a measurement of “Learning Impact” with OER. Audience members are invited to briefly share their perspectives. Dr. Ayers discusses the role of OER in institutional strategy and priorities at Broward College, and how the idea of “learning impact” shapes the College’s choices around OER digital courseware. Ms. Curtis shares Lumen’s simple model for learning impact with open educational resources (OER): Impact = # student * (cost savings + learning gains) Ms. Curtis shares research evidence underpinning courseware design decisions about how to enrich the learning experience around OER in order to increase learning impact. Dr. Ayers highlights key elements that make a meaningful difference at Broward College: solving problems around access to learning content; improving the frequency and type of teacher-student communication to support a higher-touch learning experience; opportunities for students to practice and get feedback on their performance; and flexibility of OER content to continuously improve learning materials over time.

Part 2: Demonstration.

Using an interactive show-and-tell format, the lead presenter introduces session participants to Waymaker courseware with a focus on the Faculty Tools, an intelligent messaging toolset designed to increase student learning and engagement with instructors and the OER content. The demonstration shows how students receive metacognitive nudges to encourage better learning behaviors. Instructors receive recommendations to help them easily identify and offer personalized intervention with struggling students. Session participants are then invited to go hands-on into the tools and set-up process for customizing these tools to fit their own teaching style and voice. As participants explore Waymaker courseware, the presenters share real-life examples to illustrate how students in Waymaker-supported classes respond to the interventions they receive, and how these interactions help forge deeper connections between faculty and students. Insights from behavioral and performance data reveal what types of interventions make a difference for student engagement and efficacy at Broward College. The Demonstration portion of the session concludes by teeing up a central design challenge for collaborative work teams to consider: What are the most essential “high-touch” interventions that can personalize the learning experience and impact success for at-risk students, and how would you customize or modify this toolset to support those key opportunities to intervene?

Part 3: Innovation.

The room divides into collaborative work teams of roughly equal sizes - ideally assigned in table rounds. Each team is assigned to direct the design challenge from one of these perspectives:

  • Students: You are a student struggling to succeed in college. At what point(s) would high-touch, personalized interventions like those demonstrated today be most impactful for you? How might the Waymaker Faculty Tools be further modified or improved to support these opportunities to intervene?
  • Faculty members: You are an instructor grappling with a heavy teaching load and severe time constraints, but you want to do the best by your students. At what point(s) would high-touch, personalized interventions be most impactful for your students? Why would/wouldn’t you be excited about using these tools? How might the Waymaker Faculty Tools be modified or customized to support these opportunities to intervene?

Worksheets capture output from collaborative teamwork and become final artifacts participants may take with them after the session concludes. A final share-out asks teams to propose the new or improved high-touch intervention(s) they have identified.

Key Take-aways:

1) Explain a model for learning impact with OER that encompasses textbook cost savings as well as students impacted and learning gains Identify strategies for enhancing open educational resources (OER) to increase student engagement

2) Experience how to customize and use Waymaker courseware’s intelligent messaging tools to help instructors identify and assist struggling students

3) Describe strategies Broward College is using to support more effective teaching and learning with its wide-scale implementation of Waymaker OER courseware

4) Brainstorm how high-touch interventions can improve the quality of teaching, learning, and engagement for students and faculty.