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  • Christina Trunnell

Open Education and Online Courses

Was there ever a more obvious pair as open educational resources and online instruction?

These are natural and easy partners. Why? Because open educational resources (OER) do not all approach providing information the way traditional academic publishing resources do.

They are customizable, curated, specific, and flexible.

This means that your students are not getting all the information on a topic possible. The chances that they read the materials increases when students know that they are being given material that is digestible and relevant to the lessons or tasks at hand.

This means that instructors are relieved from the pressure and struggle of covering too much in a course, trying to make the text fit their course, or adapting their course so much that their students don't even use the materials assigned to pass the course.


OER gives instructors the freedom to match course materials with exactly how they teach and what their students need to learn.

Need some convincing? This recent article from Inside Higher Ed has great insight from faculty across the U.S. Read what they have to say about making the change.


The challenge for many instructors changing their courses to online instruction or to OER is the approach to identifying course materials. In general, instructors are looking for learning materials on their subject, ie. broad coverage. Then, they look for coverage within that text for specific topics.

That's too much work and hard to do without getting overwhelmed.

Approach it in steps. Not by course, but by each topic and lesson taught. This may sound like more work, but will ultimately be easier and help both instructors and students succeed.



Need a little help? That's what we are here for!

  • The TRAILS Intentional Design course was created to help faculty do just this. It will take you step-by-step through the process of changing your course to OER. Montana faculty can join in here with colleagues across the state. The course is free, asynchronous to meet your time needs, and can be taken by any instructor, regardless of their location. Join the class here.

  • The Open Learning Institute is offering to waive all course fees, allowing faculty to register and use their online courseware at no charge. Learn more here.

  • More tactile of a learner and don't want to go through a course? Use this Faculty Workbook for a quick step-by-step guide.

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