Who Designs this Course? How Open Content Helps us Realize our Goals for Online Learning

Concurrent Session 7
Best in Track

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

A panel of instructional designers, faculty developers, and administrators from a public research institution in the Northwest and a private comprehensive university in the Southeast will lead a conversation on lessons-learned from integrating open content and practices into online education, including increased faculty engagement in the course design process.


Josh Herron is the Dean of Online and Continuous Learning at Anderson University (SC). In addition to previously serving as an online campus administrator at another institution, he has been a full-time faculty member, led faculty development initiatives, and served as an instructional designer. He has a Ph.D. from Clemson University and an M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has completed Penn State and the Online Learning Consortium's Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning and has been the recipient of the UPCEA South Region Emerging Leader Award.
Rob Nyland, PhD. is the eCampus Research and Innovation Team Manager at Boise State University, where he leads a team that performs research in online learning, learning analytics, and OER. He has previously worked as a Learning Engineer for Learning Objects, and as a full-time faculty member of Multimedia Design and Production at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University's Instructional Psychology & Technology program, where he did research in learning analytics, OER, and competency-based education.

Extended Abstract

Requiring students to purchase traditional textbooks or even ebooks for online classes seems at odds with the aims and best practices of online education. Online learning is about expanding access to educational opportunities and its contexts encourage us to redevelop our instruction to engage learners in innovative and often transformative ways. Requiring online students to purchase traditional textbooks or ebook subscriptions seems at odds with such aims, however. So why do we stick with the closed, commercial, and/or unwieldy course materials of old?

The integration and unbundling of open content into online courses is a learner-centered practice that few conventional forms of materials can support. Yet, faculty and designers alike continue to stick with the closed, commercial, and/or unwieldy course materials of old. Considering unbundling is but one strategy for adopting open educational resources (OER), our panel explores the other affordances that OER may bring to online teaching and learning and how these qualities might compel faculty to think differently about the course materials that they assign, which the facilitators find lead to more careful attention to course design by faculty members.

In this session, faculty developers, instructional designers, and administrators from Boise State University -- a public research institution in the Northwest -- and Anderson University -- a private comprehensive university in the Southeast -- will discuss some of the challenges and lessons learned in integrating OER into online education. This panel seeks to answer the following questions that still seem to haunt e-learning:

·       What are the real and perceived barriers to the creation of dedicated OER texts for existing online classes and how can those difficulties be overcome?

·       What is it about the textbooks and publishers that keep us from wresting full control of our course materials from them?

·       How do OER proponents clarify the value proposition for faculty?

·       How does OER increase support of system or institution’s goals for online education?

Facilitators will share experiences from developing and leading system- and institution-wide initiatives related to open educational resources and practices and how these practices led to increased engagement by faculty in the course design process by aligning their values with the goals of open and online education. Further, facilitators will seek examples from the audience concerning strong alignment or misalignment of online education and OER at their institutions and ways they do or can incorporate OER to increase faculty engagement in their course design and development processes. Finally, the discussion will include how faculty engagement in the course design process by using OER supports the goals of online education leaders and institutions in making high-quality educational experiences possible for more students.