Teaching the Teachers: An OER-Focused Faculty Development Program Implemented by Instructional Designers

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This interactive presentation will share strategies implemented by the Virtual Campus at Indian River State College for supporting faculty professional development in OER usage in online course development. Attendees will learn collaborative approaches for implementing faculty development programs and return to their institutions prepared to foster OER adoption. Please BYOD.


Dr. Alison L. Moore is an instructional designer with the Virtual Campus of Indian River State College where she supports faculty members with hybrid and online courses. She earned her Ph.D. in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies from Florida State University in 2016, and her research focuses on informal workplace learning among instructional design and performance improvement practitioners. Dr. Moore's interests also include designing with learning analytics and ADA compliance in mind.

Extended Abstract

Purpose of Presentation

The purpose of this interactive presentation is to share strategies implemented by instructional designers to support faculty use of open educational resources (OERs) in online courses. Attendees will learn collaborative approaches for implementing faculty development programs and return to their institutions prepared to encourage OER adoption.

At the end of this session, attendees will be able to:

  • search for open educational resources,
  • recognize Creative Commons licenses, and
  • collaborate across institutions to promote open educational resources to faculty.

After a brief background and explanation of OERs, presenters will describe the history of the Virtual Campus (VC) at Indian River State College (IRSC), and then outline the specific approaches implemented in the OER professional development program. Methods for interacting with faculty members and collaborating groups on campus will also be discussed. The session will transition into an interactive workshop during which attendees will navigate useful OER websites and databases. Attendees will return to their institutions and share OER resources—better positioned to support faculty in OER usage for online course development.

Target Audience

The target audience for this presentation is faculty members and professionals at academic institutions who are responsible for faculty professional development or curriculum design and those who wish to encourage implementation of OERs and textbook-free courses. Familiarity is not required, but individuals familiar with OER usage will gain additional insight from IRSC’s strategic efforts to support faculty development.

Benefits and Challenges

Open educational resources offer numerous benefits to students, faculty, and institutions. As potential cost-saving options for students, as well as innovative instructional resources for faculty members, OERs assist in increasing student performance, retention and completion rates, and overall learning satisfaction within educational institutions (Delimont, Turtle, Bennett, Adhikari, & Lindshield, 2016; Hilton & Laman, 2012; Jacobs, 2012; Judith & Bull, 2016).

However, designing online courses that successfully integrate OERs is a challenge for faculty members. According to the Allen and Seaman (2016), 58% of responding faculty in the United States reported that they were “not aware” of OERs. Additionally, faculty may encounter difficulties identifying and evaluating open sources effectively (Hassall & Lewis, 2017; Judith & Bull, 2016). Further preventing faculty from incorporating OERs into online courses is a concern for the amount of time required to create an OER-based course (Allen & Seaman, 2016).

OERs at Indian River State College

When the VC began offering online courses in 2013, only a handful of classes and instructors utilized OERs. While these resources supplemented textbook content, the OERs were not comprehensive enough to replace textbooks in those online courses. As of 2017, the VC catalog includes 20 courses that solely utilize open resources. These online classes contain OERs in an array of formats, such as videos, articles, websites, wikis, podcasts, open textbooks, and instructor-created content. Through a collaborative effort, VC instructional designers work with librarians to assist faculty with the selection of appropriate OERs for their online courses. This allows faculty and instructional designers to develop a close rapport, faculty members to hone skills in building OERs effectively into their online courses, and students to obtain a rich learning experience without incurring additional costs. The number of VC courses using OERs has increased in the past four years—especially in the last year. Due to conscious efforts of the VC team, in collaboration with IRSC research librarians, this positive trend should continue.

Due to the promising potential of OERs countered by instructors’ hesitations, the instructional design team of the VC at IRSC founded a professional development program directed at faculty members. The mission of the initiative is to actively support faculty professional development in OER adoption, with specific attention devoted to instilling skills of identification and appropriate integration of OER materials into online course curricula.

Faculty Professional Development Strategies

The OER initiative involves several outlets for communication with faculty members, including:

  • a campus-wide workshop series,
  • one-on-one consultations, and
  • recommended online resources.

The presentation will describe these three elements of the faculty development program with special emphasis on an interactive discussion of recommended online resources.

Campus-wide workshop series. Regular workshops co-hosted by research librarians and VC staff provide faculty with opportunities to learn about OERs and related topics. The collaborative sessions range from covering an overarching introduction to OERs, addressing copyright, Fair Use, licensing, open access, and public domain. These workshops also cover more specific topics, such as finding content-specific OERs for STEM courses. The workshop series is a component of the VC’s partnership with the IRSC Institute of Academic Excellence. Collaborating with the institute’s director, VC staff leverage the workshops to achieve the shared goal of advancing faculty excellence and expertise.

One-on-one consultations. Individual consultation regarding the use of OERs occurs frequently. Personalized interaction between the faculty member and instructional designer is a component of the IRSC VC design process. Together, they brainstorm how OERs can be added to an online course to provide engaging student experiences. The partnership also presents VC instructional designers with the opportunity to familiarize faculty with best practices of online pedagogy as well as the details behind copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons licenses. Collaboration allows instructional designers to guide faculty members through the design of a course utilizing OERs, a practice not many faculty have engaged in before. This element of the process is vital since faculty are often hesitant to replace textbooks with OERs. The insight provided prepares faculty for long-term OER adoption and practice. Special consideration for building faculty confidence and willingness to use OERs will also be discussed.

Recommended online resources. The VC team shares commonly used OER repositories with faculty and encourages them to peruse these sources regularly. By directing faculty members to quality OER materials, the VC team initiates faculty members’ informal learning and exploration of OERs.

To further illustrate the recommended online resources, this session will feature a simulation of VC instructional designers’ strategies introducing faculty to these OERs. Attendees are encouraged to bring an Internet-accessible device and engage in an interactive exercise. Presenters will guide attendees through the access and navigation of several commonly used OER repositories:

  • U.S. government websites and
  • select open access databases of OERs.

Handouts will outline Creative Commons licenses and a list of recommended online resources will be distributed for later reference. Attendees will be encouraged to return to their institutions and use these strategies for sharing OER knowledge.

In addition to directing faculty to external OER repositories, the VC team also recommends researching holdings that are already available to them through their institutions. For example, the IRSC VC staff and librarians inform faculty members about resources for which IRSC possesses subscriptions and memberships—making them accessible to faculty and students for no additional cost. Although these materials may not qualify as OERs (i.e., access to literature databases are paid for by the institution), this strategy allows faculty to leverage existing resources. Maximizing access to digital collections and repositories via an institution’s permissions may be an option for some attendees.

Bringing It All Together

This session will share recommended strategies for building a faculty professional development program focused on OER usage in online courses. Through interactive discussions facilitated by presenters, attendees will gauge what collaborative approaches may work best for their unique organizations and return to their institutions prepared to encourage OER adoption. Handouts will serve as valuable take-aways for sharing information with home institutions.


Allen, E. & Seaman, J. (2016, July). Opening the textbook: Educational resources in U. S. higher education, 2015–16. Retrieved from https://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/openingthetextbook2016.pdf

Delimont, N., Turtle, E. C., Bennett, A. Adhikari, K., & Lindshield, B. L. (2016). University students and faculty have positive perceptions of open/alternative resources and their utilization in a textbook replacement initiative. Research in Learning Technology, 24(1).

Hassall, C., & Lewis, D. I. (2017). Institutional and technological barriers to the use of open educational resources (OERs) in physiology and medical education. Advances in Physiology Education, 41, 77–81. doi:10.1152/advan.00171.2016

Hilton, J., & Laman, C. (2012). One college’s use of an open psychology textbook. Open Learning, 27(3), 265–272.

Jacobs, J. (2012). Open-source textbooks most affordable for community college students. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2012/02/10/open-...

Judith, K., & Bull, D. (2016). Assessing the potential for openness: A framework for examining course-level OER implementation in higher education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(42), 1–15.