OER planning 101

A good OER plan addresses resources, systems, training, assessment, and priorities

Once you’ve completed your prep, the following items will help you integrate OER content to create cohesion and accessibility within a course.

  • Resources: The search and curation of OER takes time. Ensuring faculty or course designers are allocated time or relieved from other duties to research and review OER supports an institutional commitment to OER.
  • Quality: There is no central database for OER content; web sites and systems house content that may or may not be peer reviewed. It’s a good idea to develop a framework or rubric to guide the quality of OER.
  • Course content: Give consideration to the type (discipline) and level (undergrad or graduate) of course applicable for OER content. Courses with content that changes frequently will require more maintenance.
  • Instructional design: Well-designed courses use instructional materials to support course outcomes and assessments. The integration of OER should map to outcomes and topics of the course.
  • Accessibility: All postsecondary institutions are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some OER content is ADA compliant and some is not. Fortunately, OER content is revisable so institutions should plan to ensure accessibility for all students.
  • OER resources: Here is a list of sites that may serve as a starting point to procure OER. Be sure to confirm designated use, as types of licensing vary.

Like most resources for courses, OER requires cyclical management and evaluation to ensure goals are being met and impacting student learning.

  • Course revisions: As outcomes, content, or assessments are revised within a course, OER should be reviewed for adequacy. Optimally, student and faculty course satisfaction surveys should include questions related to OER content within courses.
  • OER policies: For most institutions, OER is a new venture. Develop initial policies for OER and recognize that it may require revision as best practices emerge and lessons are learned.
  • Data: Similar to any new initiative impacting teaching and learning, it is important to collect and interpret data from OER. Not only will it help you understand the effectiveness of OER, but sharing the data and results with the larger education community will help advance OER from a global perspective.

Although some considerations for OER depend on the type of institution and country of origin, this quick list is a general overview intended to help educators plan for the complexities of free content. We recommend putting a plan in place that addresses resources, systems, and training, as well as the rubrics by which content is reviewed, pedagogical priorities, course-level assessments, and quantitative and qualitative measures of success.

Planning for and managing OER will ensure that lowering or eliminating textbook costs for students comes to fruition. What’s your plan?

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