OER Over the Long Run: A 5-Step Playbook for OER Integration

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

OERs add flexibility to teaching by allowing faculty to customize content to be specific to the course.  Our session presents a playbook for determining when OERs are appropriate and beneficial, where and how to search for OERs, assessing quality, integrating, and revising and refreshing your OERs over time. 


Julie has been teaching Psychology for more than 20 years. She served as Department Chair and Assistant Dean at the University of Southern Indiana and currently focuses on teaching at Kent State University, Geauga. Her interests include creative problem solving and mindfulness. She has served on the Psychology editorial review board since 2011 with MERLOT and has been a regular presenter at OLC focusing on OERs. She is in the process of flipping her classes and including OERs.
Sherri is an Associated Faculty with the Psychology Department at CCU, and specializes in teaching upper division level classes in lifespan psychology, such as Child Development, Adolescent Development, and Gerontology. Sherri has served in academia within the field of online learning for over 20 years in the role of instructional designer, LMS administrator, faculty, and over the last decade plus as a university-level administrator, having recently transitioned into faculty-only role. In addition to her work with Coastal, Sherri also serves the MERLOT organization as the Editor of the Professional Coaching board, as well as Associate Editor for the Psychology MERLOT board. She serves as the Associate Editor for the Journal of Educators Online (JEO), and enjoys volunteer work with the Alzheimer's Association. Her current research focuses on methods for improving student success in the academic environment, to include all modalities of learning (online, face-to-face, hybrid, flipped, etc.) and inclusive design and tools. She also enjoys consulting for a number of organizations to support the development of online learning initiatives. Sherri is the recipient of the 2021 OLC Gomory-Mayadas Leadership Award in Online Education.
B. Jean Mandernach, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching at Grand Canyon University. Her research focuses on enhancing student learning in the online classroom through innovative instructional and assessment strategies. In addition, she has interests in the development of effective faculty evaluation models, perception of online degrees, and faculty workload considerations. Jean received her B.S. in comprehensive psychology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, an M.S. in experimental psychology from Western Illinois University and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Ph.D. , Industrial/Organizational Psychology & M.A., Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Bowling Green State University)

Extended Abstract

The potential of open educational resources (OER) to positively impact teaching and learning is achieving global acknowledgment in the world of higher education. OERs significantly reduce costs for students while simultaneously contributing to high-quality instruction by providing faculty with the flexibility to customize courses with relevant, targeted material. OERs offer an effective strategy for nuanced alignment of course materials and content coverage.

Faculty are often more experienced utilizing textbook packages and associated supplements (PowerPoints, test banks, and homeworks with answers). Despite the convenience, standard publisher packages rarely align perfectly with content coverage in a specific course. Further, and perhaps more important, are the prohibitive costs associated with standard textbooks.  "From July 2011 to March 2018, consumer prices for college textbooks increased 40.6 percent" (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).  While these costs have not increased dramatically in the past 4 years, high prices remain a barrier to student access to course materials.

Our 2022 Innovate presentation, “Fostering Campus Partnerships that Support Adoption of Open Education,” gave attendees the tools to build these partnerships on their own campuses and gave attendees the tools to support OER in a collaborative manner. A simple search on the importance of OER confirms that many states in the United States as well as other countries recognize these benefits and are providing financial support for developing and sharing these materials.  In 2018, 2.2 million students at 48% of all U.S. colleges used OpenStax textbooks (Ruth, 2018).  “Countries in Europe, North and South Americas, and Asia are actively developing OER materials and finding ways to encourage educators to adopt OER, and more than 1,000 international repositories of OER exist” (Lee & Lee, 2021).  Efforts in some areas are exemplified by the List of North American OER Policies & Projects, https://sparcopen.org/our-work/list-of-oer-policies-projects/, which includes a brief overview in many locations with active weblinks.  These materials include textbooks and textbook alternatives, assignments, library guides, as well as legislation creating OER programs to be shared.  

While we clearly have arrived at a juncture where OER are valued, there are nonetheless challenges involved in integrating OER into a college course. These challenges include: 

  1. determining when OERs are appropriate and beneficial for your course, 

  2. knowing where and how to search for OERs,

  3. assessing the quality of OERs, 

  4. integrating OER in your course, and

  5. revising and refreshing OERs over time.

This presentation overviews our five-step playbook for determining quality, value, relevance and maintenance of OERs for your own courses.

Takeaways and Engagement Activities: 

  • All attendees will leave the session with an OER playbook to guide implementation decisions.

  • The presenters will develop and share a reference document listing high-quality, OER-related resources.

  • Throughout the presentation, prompts will engage the audience with interactive feedback regarding the five-step playbook for determining whether OER will work for their courses, finding, assessing, integrating, and revising OER over time. 

Lee, D. & Lee, E. (2021). International perspectives on using OER for online learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 69, 383-387. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-020-09871-5

Ruth, D. (2018). 48 percent of colleges, 2.2 million students using free OpenStax textbooks this year. Houston, TX: Rice University News & Media. Retrieved from https://news.rice.edu/2018/08/01/48-percent-of-colleges-2-2-million-students-using-free-openstax-textbooks-this-year/.