The 5 Rs of designing an OER course

5R Open Course Design Framework now available to support capacity-building as OER use enters mainstream

oer-framework-lumenOpen courseware experts announced plans to publish the 5R Open Course Design Framework, a set of guidelines and best practices for developing courses using open educational resources (OER).

The framework, which will be freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (CC BY), encourages educators to capitalize on the unique rights associated with open content also known as the 5Rs: the ability Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute content for educational purposes.


Lumen Learning, the experts behind the framework,  plans to offer training, professional development and a course review and certification process associated with the framework. Professional development certifications will be offered to help individuals and organizations build capacity around effective course design with OER.

“Use of open educational resources in U.S. classrooms is entering the mainstream,” said David Wiley, a professor and longtime advocate of open education as well as chief academic officer of Lumen Learning. “At the same time, the education community still has much to learn about designing effective courses and educational experiences using OER. The 5R Open Course Design Framework will provide a foundation for consistent quality assurance and best practices.”

(Next page: Details of the framework)

The primary purpose of the framework is to help educators and institutions build capacity around how to use open educational resources effectively not only to eliminate the high cost of commercial textbooks, but also to strengthen student learning.

By openly publishing the 5R Open Course Design Framework, Lumen Learning will invite participation from the education community to apply and refine its design principles over time.

“For any innovation, establishing common practices for consistency and quality is an essential step on the path to achieving widespread adoption,” said Cable Green, director of global learning at Creative Commons. “The 5R Open Course Design Framework will propose effective instructional design guidelines for educators to propel OER towards mainstream adoption in classrooms around the world.”

Lumen Learning provides courseware and support to educational institutions working to expand effective adoption of open educational resources. Having led several OER adoption initiatives in recent years, the Lumen team hopes the framework will help broaden awareness of OER and substantially increase the number of educators using open content effectively in core curriculum.

The company will also apply the 5R Open Course Framework in its work designing courses and conducting third-party expert review of OER-based courses and programs.

“The 5R Open Course Design Framework is a result of specific requests we have heard from the institutions we work with and the broader open education community,” said Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning. “Many people recognize the transformative potential of OER to broaden access to education and to improve the efficacy of educational content. The framework represents the community’s vested interest in doing this well.”

The announcement coincides with the convening of Open Education 2014, an annual conference taking place this week in Washington, DC. Drawing more than 450 people from 20 nations, this event is a focal point for policy, advocacy, innovation and collaboration around topics related to open education: open content, open access, open data and open source software.

A preliminary version of the 5R Open Course Design Framework is currently under development. Lumen Learning leaders expect to publish the first public version for comment early in 2015. Details around the training, professional development and certification process will follow.

All related educational materials will also be openly licensed under CC BY. Individuals and institutions interested in providing input into the process or pilot participation are invited to contact Lumen Learning (info@lumenlearning.com) for more information.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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