Breaking Free: An OER Primer on Creating a Cost-Free Course

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session MERLOT

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

What does a faculty member need to know and do in order to move to a cost-free class for students?  The MERLOT Teacher Education Board will provide you with an introductory process and suggestions for materials in this OER session.  Join us and share your tips as well.


Jane Moore is the Director of MERLOT Editorial and Professional Development Services. She also serves as Editor for MERLOT's Teacher Education Board. Jane has taught online since 2002, and after 27 years in the elementary classroom and 16 years in higher education full time, has embraced online learning with a great deal of enthusiasm.
As a graduate instructional design specialist at Clarkson University in New York State, my passion is creating engaging, diverse teaching and learning experiences for students and faculty. I am recognized as an Open SUNY Fellow Expert Online Instructional Designer and am also a certified Quality Matters Master Reviewer; I have reviewed or observed hundreds of online and blended course using various checklists including the OSCQR. I am a member of the MERLOT Teacher Education Editorial Board and a MERLOT Peer Reviewer Extraordinaire. Since earning my NYS teacher certification and a Master’s degree in Educational Computing from Buffalo State College in 2000, I have enjoyed teaching in higher education. Also I have had the pleasure of using my entrepreneurial skills to start several businesses, the most recent being Mobile Tech Mentor, computing services for those who need a little help. I have presented at a wide variety of venues over the last 10 years or so, such as ADEIL, Online Learning Consortium, Sloan-C International Online Learning, Sloan-C Blending Learning, ELearning Consortium of Colorado Conference, SUNY Online Learning Summit (SOL) (DOODLE), Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference (TLT) and the Conference on Instructional Technologies on topics such as Enhance Your Online Course and Engage Your Students with Video; Add Zest to the Final Project!; Adventures in Energy Course Redesign: Can You Say Solar Photovoltaic?; Online Course Quality; Emerging Technologies for Online Learning and Opening the Gate: How You and Your Students Will Benefit from Open Educational Resources; Course Redesign Made Easy with SoftChalk; Using Macromedia Captivate to Create Online Tutorials, and Small Business Development – Online Environment & Program Level Quality and more.
Dr. Cris Guenter, Professor of Education at California State University, Chico She specializes in teaching that focuses on arts education, computer graphics, and technology in education. Her research interests include technology's intersection with the arts, authentic assessment, and online instruction. She teaches credential and graduate level courses in the arts, technology, and curriculum development. In 2008 she was recognized as the National Art Educator of the Year. Cris has experience in giving engaging keynote presentations for K-university educators at the state and national levels. She has been involved with MERLOT since its inception in 1999.
Angela Gunder serves as Director of Instructional Design and Curriculum Development for the Office of Digital Learning at The University of Arizona. Angela came into instructional design rather circuitously, helming large-scale site designs as webmaster for The City College of New York, the honors college at ASU, and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA).  Her over fifteen year career as a designer for higher education informs her instructional design practice, where she leverages her expertise in usability, visual communication, programming, and standards-based online learning. Angela holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University, and a M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University.  Prior to her position at UA, she was a member of NOVA’s instructional design team, supporting over 23,000 students in 550 unique courses.   Angela is an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT, and a Quality Matters certified peer reviewer and online facilitator.  Her research interests include technology for second language acquisition, open educational resources, and emerging technology to promote digital literacy. A voracious culinary nerd, Angela spends her free time composing, cooking and photographing original recipes for her food blog.
Tammy is a senior learning designer with Strategic Education, Inc.. In this role, she designs story-based courses in a variety of disciplines. She has been teaching in higher education, both online and face-to-face, for over ten years. Tammy holds a Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Practice with an emphasis in Instructional Technology from the University at Albany. She also holds a BA and MA in American History from the University at Albany. Her research interests include innovative delivery of story-based instruction, higher order thinking in the history classroom, alternative delivery of content to students, and the use of video in higher education. Her publications have appeared in Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning. Tammy has presented at educational conferences including Northeast Education Research Association (NERA), American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), and Northeast Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP).

Extended Abstract

Premise: Educators of online or face-to-face courses seek to provide cost effective solutions for their students.


What does a faculty member need to do in order to move to a cost-free class for students: (This portion of the presentation includes conversations with attendees rather than being entirely didactic.)

  • Intro and What is the process? (5 mins)   

    • Timeline - Time It Takes to Convert a Course

    • Identifying course content that needs an OER replacement

    • Selecting materials to replace costly content; evaluating materials for quality

    • Implementing in the course (LMS)

    • Connecting students to open content (allowing them to use, remix, share)

      • Do you ever have to prepare students to use OER in these ways?

      • Do you ever train students to remix/create OER?

  • How to incorporate OER (Backwards Design from course goals?) (5 mins)

    • Guiding faculty in a backwards design process that is tied to OER adoption

    • Aligning content with objectives and assessments of the course/organization

  • Where to find OER (10 mins)

    • What kinds of OER:

      • Definitions of OER -- free resources are just as valuable

        • OER/Affordable Learning $olutions

      • Textbooks (Cool4Ed)

      • Articles (Open journals; materials from your school’s library)

      • Simulations; quizzes

      • Software, apps

  • How to evaluate OER (reviews in MERLOT/Cool4Ed) (5 mins)

  • Small Group Discussion (15 mins)

    • How to engage students in the process of using, remixing and sharing OER

      • Both in-person and virtual discussion groups with facilitators will be provided.

      • Board members to help facilitate a discussion on how to involve students with using, remixing, and creating OER.

Share Out and Closure (5 mins) - an Infographic and link to a website with references in Content Builder will be provided to all attendees.


  • Cheat Sheet for Faculty on OER

    • Infographic of steps to convert a course to OER

  • Cheat Sheet for Students on OER

    • Infographic on using, remixing, and sharing OER

  • Content-Builder Resources List




Devaney, L. (2016, October 20) 3 challenges to OER implementation. Retrieved from


Tutorial 2: Creating and Modifying Open Educational Resources - Help / Affordable Learning     Georgia. (n.d.). Retrieved from help/creating-1


Willcott, J. (2018, March 13). A 7-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Open Educational Resources - EdSurge News. Retrieved from


Wilhelm, R. (2018, March 13). ​A Playbook to Go Open: 5 Steps to Adopting OER - EdSurge News. Retrieved from