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Open Enough? Choices and Consequences When Transitioning from Closed to Open Resources and Courses Open Access


Author or creator
Erik G. Christiansen
Michael B. McNally
Additional contributors
Open educational resources
Instructional design
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Type of item
Conference/workshop Poster
This paper examines the continuum from "closed" to "open" for both open educational resources (OER) and open courses. The primary focus is to evaluate what instructional choices are needed to increase the openness of courses and how such openness impacts the student experience. The majority of OER literature is concerned with cost savings to students and are presented as institutional case studies. This conceptual paper provides an analysis of the critical academic literature and summarizes the common obstacles instructors face when working on their own OER projects - namely instructional design, technical support, and institutional tenure. Through this analysis, the authors propose a six step scale for conceptualizing openness - outlining the work and support required as one moves from a closed to open course design model. The preliminary findings reveal that creating open courses requires considerably more work on the part of the instructor. In addition to being a content expert, truly open courses require a greater percentage of open access readings, design for a variety of audiences, knowledge of open licensing and copyright, knowledge of dissemination platforms and venues for open educational resources, and an understanding of usability and accessibility. Significantly, the scale also illustrates that each successive step towards openness requires ever greater time and expertise on the part of the instructor. For instructors to develop fully open courses knowledge of pedagogy and design principles may supercede the required content expertise. While fully open courses have inherent value to the public, there can be pedagogical consequences such as self-assessment limitations and a lack of foundational literature and sophistication. Without sufficient incentives and institutional support it is unreasonable to assume that instructors will transition traditional closed resources and classes to open variants. The authors conclude by offering recommendations to instructors for striking the right balance between content and access as well as identifying key means through which institutions can support instructors to facilitate the development of open courses and resources.
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