Best Practices in Designing Courses with Open Educational Resources  book cover
1st Edition

Best Practices in Designing Courses with Open Educational Resources

ISBN 9780367140700
Published December 9, 2019 by Routledge
146 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Best Practices in Designing Courses with Open Educational Resources is a practical guide that assists faculty and institutions looking to adopt and implement open educational resources (OER) and to foster meaningful, effective learning experiences through the course design process. Chapters loaded with tips, case examples, and guidance from practitioners advise readers through each step necessary for sustainable OER initiatives, from preliminary planning and course redesign through teaching, learning, and faculty development.

Written by two authors with direct experience in training higher education professionals to use OER, this is a comprehensive resource for faculty, instructional designers, course developers, librarians, information technologists, and administrators hoping to rethink and refresh their curricula by moving beyond traditional textbooks. An authors’ website expands the book with resources, templates, and examples of implementation models, including faculty development workshop OER materials that can be adopted by readers.

Table of Contents

Part I: Overview

Chapter 1: Introduction to OER: What’s It All About?

This chapter introduces the broad landscape of OER in higher education, providing some definitions and an overview of current trends and issues. It also identifies the key role faculty play in the OER movement and lays out the reasons why design is an essential element for an effective teaching and learning experience with OER.

Chapter 2: Before You Begin: the OER Essentials

This chapter provides a comprehensive step-by-step guide for how to distinguish between the different OER permissions for adoption, attribution, and reuse; how to find OER, including the use of resource collections and discipline-specific sites; and how to evaluate OER using appropriate standards and criteria.

Part II: Course Design

Chapter 3: Adopting, Adapting, and Authoring

This chapter uncovers the process for adopting OER and compares it with the process of creating your own OER content. We examine options for curating and distributing OER, ranging from free and open to paid and closed platforms. The chapter also examines how to make the most of OER when using a digital format or a learning management system (LMS).

Chapter 4: Plan Out Your Course with OER

This chapter offers an OER course planning document for faculty to plan out their course redesign, utilizing the backward design approach. We will explore the organization of course content and examine the elements that define a learning unit’s structure, as well as special considerations for OER in the course design process. This chapter also discusses how to evaluate OER for accessibility and presents some tips for making content accessible.

Chapter 5: Designing with Student Engagement in Mind

This chapter focuses on course design techniques for OER that increase student engagement, contribute to better retention and recall, and provide a foundation for higher-order thinking. We suggest some practical strategies for creating opportunities for students to interact with and respond to learning content. Faculty can structure learning paths by means of intentional design strategies, whether they teach online or face-to-face.

Part III: Teaching and Learning

Chapter 6: Teaching with OER

This chapter offers insights into the experience of faculty teaching with OER, providing practical tips and recommendations for getting the most out of OER. We also explore the potential benefits to both faculty and students and how OER can enhance the teaching and learning experience.

Chapter 7: Learning With OER: Student Voices in OER

This chapter explores student perspectives and experiences with OER. It discusses approaches to introducing students to OER and creating learning opportunities to support their success, including engaging students in the curation and creation of OER when appropriate.

Part IV: Scaling Up

Chapter 8: Support and Planning

The chapter provides an overview of support systems needed to ensure effective OER implementation. Successful and sustainable OER initiatives require a unified effort and continuous support from various units involved in teaching and learning and course design, along with effective collaboration with faculty.

Chapter 9: Faculty Development

This chapter offers several models to prepare faculty to adopt, adapt, or create OER, ranging from single events and consultations, to year-long fellowships and grants, to an intensive online faculty development program. We make the case for faculty development for OER that includes the fundamentals of online course design.

Chapter 10: Challenges and Possible Solutions

This chapter provides an overview of common barriers and possible solutions for institutional and individual faculty adoption of OER, ranging from issues related to accessibility and technical implementation of OER to incentives and recognition of OER use and development.

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Olena Zhadko is Director of Online Education at Lehman College, City University of New York, USA. She has nearly 15 years of experience providing leadership in online education and innovative use of technology in teaching and learning.

Susan Ko is Faculty Development Consultant in the Office of Online Education and Clinical Professor in the History Department at Lehman College, City University of New York, USA. She is the author of Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, a leading book in the field of online teaching, and the series editor for the Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning series. She has more than 20 years of online teaching and faculty development experience.


"This book provides an accessible and excellent synthesis of best practices in instructional design with Open Educational Resources (OERs). It is essential reading for anyone wanting to harness the real potential of OERs for learning, teaching and assessment. A strong case is made for infusing OERs throughout the curriculum as part of a wider commitment to supporting an open educational culture. Thus, the book will be of strong interest to practitioners, educational leaders and policy-makers alike as the openness movement continues to challenge and help us reimagine traditional educational models."

—Mark Brown, Ph.D., Director, National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University, Ireland

"In Best Practices in Designing Courses with Open Educational Resources (OER), Zhadko and Ko offer one of the most concise and approachable resources to OER that I have encountered. By sharing a range of perspectives from instructors across disciplines, and by offering practical solutions to common OER challenges, Zhadko and Ko have created a book that all instructors can benefit from."

—Katie Linder, Ph.D., Research Director, Oregon State University, Ecampus, USA

"The creation, management, and adoption of Open Educational Resources has been a cottage industry for many years and is now a maturing enterprise in higher education. This book provides a comprehensive educational roadmap to the many issues that administrators, educators, and students need to consider when planning and implementing OER strategies within their institution. Don’t fall into the "not invented here syndrome", but learn from the thoughtful organization and perspectives on OER presented in this book so you and your colleagues can improve, scale, and sustain your future with OER. Whether you’re just getting started with OER or have been at it for years, use this resource to reflect on your plans and actions to free learning for all."

—Gerry Hanley, Ph.D., Executive Director of MERLOT( and SkillsCommons (

"Teaching faculty and those colleagues (e.g., instructional designers) who work collaboratively with faculty daily will appreciate the refreshing emphasis by Zhadko and Ko on practical OER implementation strategies for faculty who want to support better student learning through less expensive instructional materials but who are not themselves "OER purists." While eschewing unrealistic idealism as an unhelpful obstacle, the authors nevertheless align with the aspirational goals of OER and open education. Centering on the critical role of course design in OER success and offering much faculty-friendly advice, including a very helpful OER course planning document, Zhadko and Ko admirably address the broader context of institutional OER initiatives (e.g., faculty development, support resources, achieving scale, etc.). Going beyond content considerations, these authors also offer perspective on student experiences with OER and stay focused on how willing faculty can make the teaching and learning experience richer through the careful integration of well-designed OER. Perhaps most refreshing, though, is the parting admonition from Zhadko and Ko not to "oversell" OER if one is truly seeking to be successful."

—Kelvin Thompson, Ed.D., Executive Director of the Center for Distributed Learning at University of Central Florida, USA, and co-host of TOPcast: The Teaching Online Podcast

"This is the book I wish I would have had to read when I first got started with OER. The authors provide a comprehensive look at the different types of OER, how to get started, and the ways in which various parts of the university can support this work. Throughout the text are examples of OER approaches from people in diverse disciplines and roles. It’s like getting to have a conversation with experts who have navigated the challenges and know how to leverage the opportunities. There are also abundant resources and tools included, which make it that much more possible to put the ideas from the book into action."

—Bonni Stachowiak, Ed.D., Dean of Teaching and Learning at Vanguard University, USA, and host of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast