Education and Information Technologies

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 3483–3500 | Cite as

The undefined figure: Instructional designers in the open educational resource (OER) movement in higher education

  • Xinyue RenEmail author


The paper aims to discuss the role of instructional designers (IDs) in supporting the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement in higher education. Due to the increasing cost of higher education, previous studies indicated the feasibility of adopting OER to lower students’ educational expenses and to equalize their learning opportunities (Murphy in Distance Education, 34(2), 201–217, 2013; Okamoto in Public Services Quarterly, 9(4), 267–283, 2013). However, many instructors and staff are facing various barriers to adopting OER, such as the lack of time, motivation, and knowledge of quality evaluation (Taylor and Taylor in Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 21(2), 1–8, 2018). IDs often serve as learner analysts, instructional innovators, and leaders in educational technology to assist instructors in developing teaching materials. However, limited research studied their partnerships to overcome the barriers of creating and adopting OERs in universities and colleges. Hence, the paper will propose a viable solution to include IDs in overcoming OER adoption barriers and promoting the OER movement in higher education. The findings may contribute to the field of OER movement and pave the way for future research.


Instructional designers (IDs) Open educational resources (OERs) OER adoption OER movement Partnerships between instructors and instructional designers 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


  1. Abramovich, S., & McBride, M. (2018). Open education resources and perceptions of financial value. The Internet and Higher Education, 39, 33–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arimoto, M. M., Barroca, L., & Barbosa, E. F. (2016). Am-OER: An agile method for the development of open educational resources. Informatics in Education, 15(2), 205–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atkins, D. E., Brown, J. S., & Hammond, A. L. (2007). A review of the open educational resources (OER) movement: Achievements, challenges, and new opportunities. San Francisco, CA: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.Google Scholar
  4. Belikov, O. M., & Bodily, R. (2016). Incentives and barriers to OER adoption: A qualitative analysis of faculty perceptions. Open Praxis, 8(3), 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bliss, T., Robinson, T. J., Hilton, J., & Wiley, D. A. (2013). An OER COUP: College teacher and student perceptions of open educational resources. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, (1), 1–25.Google Scholar
  6. Carey, T., Davis, A., Ferreras, S., & Porter, D. (2015). Using open educational practices to support institutional strategic excellence in teaching, learning & scholarship. Open Praxis, 7(2), 161–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chiappe, A., & Arias, V. (2015). Understanding reusability as a key factor for open education: A review. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(1), 40–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crews, K. D. (2012). Copyright, archives, and unpublished materials. Copyright law for librarians and educators: Creative strategies and practical solutions (pp. 131–138). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.Google Scholar
  9. Elias, T. (2010). Universal instructional design principles for Moodle. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 11(2), 110–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Flores, S. M., & Shepherd, J. C. (2014). Pricing out the disadvantaged? The effect of tuition deregulation in Texas public four-year institutions. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 655, 99–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gérin-Lajoie, S. (2015). Being an instructional designer: A job requiring innovation and trust. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 41(4). Retrieved Oct 16, 2018, from
  12. Grewe, K., & Davis, W. P. (2017). The impact of enrollment in an OER course on student learning outcomes. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(4), 231–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hemelt, S. W., & Marcotte, D. E. (2011). The impact of tuition increases on enrollment at public colleges and universities. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(4), 435–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hilton, J. L., III, Robinson, T. J., Wiley, D., & Ackerman, J. D. (2014). Cost-savings achieved in two semesters through the adoption of open educational resources. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(2), 67–84.Google Scholar
  15. Ikahihifo, T. K., Spring, K. J., Rosecrans, J., & Watson, J. (2017). Assessing the savings from open educational resources on student academic goals. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 18(7), 126–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Illowsky, B. S., Hilton, J., Whiting, J., & Ackerman, J. D. (2016). Examining student perception of an open statistics book. Open Praxis, 8(3), 265–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kerkvliet, J., & Nowell, C. (2014). Public subsidies, tuition, and public universities’ choices of undergraduate acceptance and retention rates in the USA. Education Economics, 22(6), 652–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kumar, S., & Ritzhaupt, A. (2017). What do instructional designers in higher education really do? International Journal on E-Learning, 16(4), 371–393.Google Scholar
  19. Lederman, D. (2018a). Conflicted views of technology: A survey of faculty attitudes. Inside Higher Eds. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from
  20. Lederman, D. (2018b). Professor, please meet your instructional designer. Inside Higher Eds . Retrieved November 12, 2018, from
  21. Lindshield, B., & Adhikari, K. (2013). Campus and online U.S. college students’ attitudes toward an open educational resource course fee: A pilot study. International Journal of Higher Education, 2(4), 42–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McGriff, S. J. (2001). Leadership in higher education: Instructional designers in faculty development programs. Retrieved October 16, 2018, from
  23. Merkel, E., & Cohen, A. (2015). OER usage by instructional designers and training managers in corporations. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Skills and Lifelong Learning, 11, 237–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Miller, R., & Homol, L. (2016). Building an online curriculum based on OERs: The library’s role. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 10(3–4), 349–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kemp, J. E., & Kalman, H. (2010). Designing effective instruction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. Mulder, F. (2013). The logic of national policies and strategies for open educational resources. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(2), 96–105.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Murphy, A. (2013). Open educational practices in higher education: Institutional adoption and challenges. Distance Education, 34(2), 201–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Tuition costs of colleges and universities. Retrieved October 2, 2018, from
  29. Nguyen, N. A. (2010). Not all textbooks are created equal: Copyright, fair use, and open access in the Open College Textbook Act of 2010. Journal of Art, Technology & Intellectual Property Law, 21(1), 105–130.Google Scholar
  30. Nikoi, S., & Armellini, A. (2012). The OER mix in higher education: Purpose, process, product, and policy. Distance Education, 33(2), 165–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Norman, D. A. (2013). The design of everyday things. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  32. Okamoto, K. (2013). Making higher education more affordable, one course reading at a time: Academic libraries as key advocates for open access textbooks and educational resources. Public Services Quarterly, 9(4), 267–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Peek, R. (2012). Textbooks in turmoil. Information Today, 29(5), 26.Google Scholar
  34. Piña, A. A. (2015). Open content licensing. In J. M. Spector (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of educational technology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  35. Piña, A. A., & Moran, K. A. (2018). Effects of an open educational resources initiative on students, faculty and instructional designers. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 21(2). Retrieved October 2, 2018, from
  36. Richardson, P. W. (2004). Reading and writing from textbooks in higher education: A case study from economics. Studies in Higher Education, 29(4), 505–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rodés, V., Podetti, M., Hernández, Y., & Collazos, C. (2014). Strategies for the adoption of open textbooks: The Latin American open textbooks initiative. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 17(2), 76–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Scanlon, E. (2012). Open educational resources in support of science learning: Tools for inquiry and observation. Distance Education, 33(2), 221–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Skinner, D., & Howes, B. (2013). The required textbook—Friend or foe? Dealing with the dilemma. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 10(2), 133–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Slagter van Tryon, P. J., McDonald, J., & Hirumi, A. (2018). Preparing the next generation of instructional designers: A cross-institution faculty collaboration. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 30, 125–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Taylor, C., & Taylor, M. W. (2018). I’m never doing this again: Identifying and solving faculty challenges in adoption of open educational resources. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 21(2), 1–8.Google Scholar
  42. Thoms, J. J., Arshavskaya, E., & Poole, F. J. (2018). Open educational resources and ESL education: Insights from U.S. educators. The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language, 22(2), 1–24.Google Scholar
  43. United States Department of Labor. (2018). College textbooks in U.S. city average, all urban consumers, not seasonally adjusted. Retrieved October 2, 2018, from
  44. Veletsianos, G. (2015). A case study of scholars’ open and sharing practices. Open Praxis, 7(3), 199–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wiley, D. (2014). The access compromise and the 5th R. Iterating toward Openness. Retrieved October 3, 2018, from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ohio UniversityAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations