100 word reply SCOLE stands for student-centered open learning environments it is focused on students taking charge of their education or learning with little or no assistance from educators (Spector et al., 2014 p. 642). An example of SCOLE is WISE. WISE stands for Web-Inquiry Science Environment, it is a type of virtual reality where students are able to get involved with the science they are learning. With this program, students are able to conduct experiments from a virtual laboratory that engages students in scientific inquiry through, experimentation, investigation, and questioning. This is helpful especially for students who are learning online and it helps them to actually interact and participate with what they are learning. A con to SCOLE learning is that it doesn’t have “empirical foundation and are applied in misguided ways” (Spector et al., 2014 p. 645). This stems from the need of having direct instruction and that this type of instruction can be used for every type of learning (Spector et al., 2014 p. 645). Even though there are negatives to this type of learning students are taking hold of their education and are having the ability to interact with what they are learning through the programs that are offered through SCOLE. Another positive to this type of learning is “that they support authentic learning environments, thus situating learning tasks in the context of real-world situations” (Nistor et al., 2015). SCOLE is a type of distance learning where students already cannot be “passive learners” but “they must participate in the learning process” (Simonson et al., 2015 p. 168). SCOLE learning provides the learner with the ability to do more than just learning through a computer or at a distance, but actively participate. This program can be used for higher education and even students in K-12. However, this type of learning will not be beneficial for students who do not know how to manage their learning on their own and are not disciplined. This type of learning is used in homeschooling for students in middle and high school (have not seen it in elementary) where they are given a specific program or online tool to help them explore a topic given. Once again with this type of learning discipline is very much needed no matter what level of education.Reference:Nistor, N., Trăuşan-Matu, Ş., Dascălu, M., Duttweiler, H., Chiru, C., Baltes, B., & Smeaton, G. (2015). Finding student-centered open learning environments on the internet: Automated dialogue assessment in academic virtual communities of practice. Computers in Human Behavior, 47, 119-127. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.07.029Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Spector, M., Merrill M., Elen J., & Bishop M. (2014). Handbook of research on educational communications and technology. (4th ed.) New York, NY. Springer.





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Information Discovery and Delivery
Open educational resources (OERs) in self-directed competency-based education
Eileen A. Horn, Ryan Anderson, Kristine Pierick,
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Eileen A. Horn, Ryan Anderson, Kristine Pierick, (2018) “Open educational resources (OERs) in self-directed competencybased education”, Information Discovery and Delivery, Vol. 46 Issue: 4, pp.197-203, https://doi.org/10.1108/IDD-02-2018-0005
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Open educational resources (OERs) in
self-directed competency-based education
Eileen A. Horn, Ryan Anderson and Kristine Pierick
Downloaded by Liberty University Jerry Falwell Library At 15:50 22 January 2019 (PT)
University of Wisconsin Extension, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Purpose – This study aims to describe how open educational resources (OERs) were used in a system-wide, competency-based higher education
program. It discusses barriers encountered, solutions developed and suggestions for future research on OER-focused curricula for self-directed
learners. The case demonstrates practical application of the best practices for OER usage and contributes to discussions among the open education
community about what constitutes quality OERs and how quality measures can help instructors select the best available OER.
Design/methodology/approach – This case study uses a reflective approach to describe what the organization did to facilitate OER use in
University of Wisconsin Flexible Option. The authors reflect on tools and processes used and highlight alignment with best practices from OER
Findings – This case confirms that there are challenges associated with OERs, especially for faculty with limited experience using them. It also offers
insights into how to evaluate and curate OERs and confirms that students are generally satisfied when OERs are used as primary learning resources.
Research limitations/implications – Formal research was not conducted. This case provides a starting point for potential future research about
the use of OERs by self-directed, competency-based students.
Practical implications – Practical implications of this case study include concrete tools and methods faculty and instructional designers can use to
locate, evaluate and curate OERs. This case study highlights the role OERs can play in increasing overall satisfaction with learning resources while
decreasing students’ costs.
Originality/value – This case ties unique needs of self-directed, competency-based learners with the use of OERs, addressing two overarching
questions about OERs: what constitutes a quality OER? and how is quality measured?
Keywords Quality, Self-directed learning, Open educational resources, Competency-based education, OER, Learning materials
Paper type Case study
education community about what constitutes quality OERs
and how those quality measures can help instructors select the
best available OER. The case also confirms that large-scale
adoption of OERs as primary learning materials can be
This case study explores an institutional approach to the
adoption of open educational resources (OERs) as a means to
save students’ money within a specific context of self-directed,
competency-based education (CBE) programming. CBE
programs are focused on awarding credit when students
demonstrate mastery of skills, knowledge or behavior rather
than spend time in a course (Baker, 2015). OERs are online
teaching and learning resources that can be freely used and
shared to support education (U.S. Department of Education,
Office of Educational Technology, 2010). One well-known
benefit of using OERs is cost savings for students (Hilton,
2016; Tuomi, 2006; Wiley et al., 2014). Cost savings is also one
of the goals of the University of Wisconsin (UW) system’s
Flexible Option (University of Wisconsin System – Board of
Regents, 2018). This case describes barriers encountered,
solutions developed and suggestions for future research on
implementing OER-focused curricula for self-directed learners.
It demonstrates practical application of existing best practices
for OER usage and adds to the discussions among the open
Launched in 2014, the UW Flexible Option is the first systemwide and competency-based initiative in the country. Led by
partnerships throughout the UW system and UW extension,
the Flexible Option draws upon the expertise of UW faculty to
offer a more personalized, convenient and affordable way for
adults and other nontraditional students to earn a UW degree
or certificate. There are currently six degrees and three
certificate programs offered through UW Flexible Option.
UW Flexible Option’s self-paced, competency-based degree
and certificate programs let students start any month, work at
their own pace and earn credit using knowledge they already
have – whether that knowledge was gained through prior
coursework, military training, on-the-job training or other
learning experiences. Unlike traditional, semester-based
classroom and online programs, UW Flexible Option awards
credit based on competency, not class time. Students make
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on
Emerald Insight at: www.emeraldinsight.com/2398-6247.htm
Received 23 February 2018
Revised 13 July 2018
16 July 2018
Accepted 16 July 2018
Information Discovery and Delivery
46/4 (2018) 197–203
© Emerald Publishing Limited [ISSN 2398-6247]
[DOI 10.1108/IDD-02-2018-0005]
Downloaded by Liberty University Jerry Falwell Library At 15:50 22 January 2019 (PT)
Educational resources
Information Discovery and Delivery
Eileen A. Horn, Ryan Anderson and Kristine Pierick
Volume 46 · Number 4 · 2018 · 197–203
progress by passing a series of assessments – tests, papers and
other projects – that prove they have mastered required
competencies (i.e. skills, knowledge and behaviors identified by
UW faculty as essential to a specific degree or certificate). As
soon as a student demonstrates mastery of an area, he or she
earns the credit and can then move on to next competency and
In this model, the emphasis is on what the students know
rather than how they gained that knowledge. With the focus on
assessment of mastery, the program offers an opportunity for
significant cost savings to students in terms of time and money
spent on tuition and learning materials. To aid in the costsavings effort, faculty curate OERs to serve as primary learning
resources for students whenever possible. Students may have
little prior knowledge, or they may bring knowledge and
experience with them; therefore, each student has flexibility in
the way he or she chooses to use and interact with the learning
they learn the content, there was a tendency to include multiple
resources on a given topic, so that students would have choices.
While there are benefits to allowing students to choose from
among several resources, in some cases, this approach quickly
led to an overwhelming number of resources. This resulted in
students spending a great deal of time determining with which
they should interact first. Ultimately, this slowed down their
progress through assessments. Baker (2015) confirms that a
“free-range attitude could be detrimental to students who lack
[. . .] access and need more guidance as they make efficient
progress toward a CBE degree” (p. 13).
These varied experiences led to an identified need for UW
Flexible Option faculty to become content curators as opposed
to content aggregators by shifting the focus to quality and
presentation of materials rather than quantity. Well-curated
materials can help tap into the prior knowledge students have
and facilitate meaningful new learning connections and
experiences. This case acknowledges that all OERs should have
a solid context and explicit alignment with learning goals or
competencies (Wiley, 2013). This information is especially
important in a self-directed model of UW Flexible Option. As
self-directed learners navigate the learning experience by
identifying individual needs (Saks and Leijen, 2014), it is
critical that they can efficiently choose the right resources from
among those that are provided. To ensure that OERs were
implemented in a way that facilitates self-directed learning, a
series of tools and a step-by-step process were created to
facilitate the selection and presentation of OERs.
Review of relevant literature
Challenges associated with locating and maintaining OERs
have been documented in the literature for some time (Hilton,
2016; Judith and Bull, 2016; Wiley et al., 2014; Neely et al.,
2016). Current literature reveals that selecting OERs is a timeconsuming process, especially when whole programs are
considered. “Finding open resources for a single course can be
manageable but trying to identify open or low-cost resources
for an entire degree program is daunting” (Neely et al., 2016,
p. 66). After finding learning resources, evaluating them for
relevance to the learning goals and curating them in a
meaningful way takes considerable time. OER literature shows
that scholars and practitioners have produced rubrics and other
tools to facilitate OER evaluation. However, as Yuan and
Recker (2015) note, the practical value of these rubrics can be
limited for a variety of reasons such as lack of rating scales or
having been designed for specialized contexts. Perceptions
about OERs are complex because faculty want to provide
resources meeting quality and appropriateness standards, but
they have limited time and resources to do so (Bliss et al., 2013;
Harley et al., 2010). Some literature on CBE environments has
touched on how adult students use course content to learn and
achieve competency (Baker, 2015; Camacho and Legare,
2016; McDonald, 2018); however, the subject of OER
implementation in CBE environments, specifically, is not
present in current literature.
Following the initial program launch, instructional designers
created a kit of tools and resources for use during the
development process. The kit includes an overview of the
process of finding, evaluating and curating learning resources
(Figure 1), as well as supporting tools such as tip sheets, a
learning resource evaluation checklist and an organizational
and note-taking document.
When it comes to locating learning resources, knowing where
to look is important. There are a lot of places to search and
many different types of resources available. Instructional
designers worked closely with the faculty to locate OERs,
guiding them toward reliable sources such as OpenStax©,
MERLOT© and OER Commons©. After several development
cycles, a learning resources curation tool (Appendix 1) was
added to the kit. The curation tool is simple and evolves as one
Project needs
Figure 1 Process for curating resources
Early on, in the development of UW Flexible Option offerings,
it became clear to those involved that there was a need to help
faculty and instructional designers become proficient in
evaluating and curating content. The need for more education
and support was identified based on feedback from both faculty
and instructional designers. For some faculty, using OERs was
entirely new; others had used them to enhance traditional
textbooks purchased by students, but they had not attempted
to create an entire course with them. Some faculty found so
many resources that they had difficulty knowing which ones or
how many to include. Because they were collecting resources
for self-directed learners with a great deal of control over how
Downloaded by Liberty University Jerry Falwell Library At 15:50 22 January 2019 (PT)
Educational resources
Information Discovery and Delivery
Eileen A. Horn, Ryan Anderson and Kristine Pierick
Volume 46 · Number 4 · 2018 · 197–203
progresses through the whole curation process. When locating
resources, the tool serves as a place to collect links and make
notes about pros and cons of using particular OERs. When
faculty are locating resources, the goal is to develop a list of
resources needed to support the assessments students are
completing. This part of the process may lead to faculty having
a long list of resources, which is why the evaluation part of the
process is so important.
Evaluating OERs requires an examination of quality and
relevance of the materials and how they tie in to the content
being taught. The goal is to choose those resources that are the
best and most appropriate for the course equivalents being
created. For this reason, an evaluation checklist was included in
the learning resources curation tool (Appendix 2). The criteria
on the checklist were defined based on Quality MattersTM,
MERLOT© peer review process and feedback from
instructional designers and early-adopting UW Flexible Option
faculty. The checklist highlights factors to consider including
currency, relevance, alignment with the competency level and
ease of use. Not all of these factors will apply to all resources,
but they provide a general framework to help faculty choose
those OERs that are the most appropriate. The kit also provides
tip sheets regarding Americans with Disabilities Act
compliance, copyright and fair use.
Content curation, the last step in this process, requires
organizing selected OERs in a meaningful way. The goal in this
step is to add context and value, as opposed to simply amassing
content. During curation, the focus is on the student and how
he or she might use the OER. As previously discussed, this is
critical for self-directed learners in UW Flexible Option
programs (Cho et al., 2009; Southard, 2015). When curating,
the introduction and reflection/annotation columns of the
learning resources curation tool become essential. For example,
this tool has instructions on how to include an explanation of
OER’s purpose, what students will get out of the resource and
why it was chosen.
The kit is also a helpful tool for instructional designers, as
they work with faculty during the design, development and
revision processes. Designers can use portions of the kit
selectively depending on what the instructor needs.
Additionally, the components of the kit can be easily translated
into materials for a workshop when new program development
begins and organizations need on-site, person-to-person
is because students can spend more energy on learning content
rather than on figuring out how to navigate content or how the
content connects to the competency that the student needs to
demonstrate (Cho et al., 2009; Southard, 2015). Over time, the
approach to OER usage and implementation was refined to
ensure that students know the value of each resource and how it
relates to a particular competency. As a result, there is now
consistency in the way learning resources and OERs are
presented to students within a program in UW Flexible Option.
In higher education environments, students are typically
asked to evaluate their learning experience. Similarly, students
in UW Flexible Option complete an evaluation after
completing each course equivalent. While there are similarities,
each program has a unique evaluation tool. Data for Program A
were collected from 2014 to 2018, and data for Program B were
collected from 2016 to 2018 (Appendix 3). The evaluations
used in UW Flexible Option are not focused on OERs
specifically, but students are asked about their satisfaction with
the learning resources in general. With aggregated results from
two different programs offered through UW Flexible Option, it
appears that students are generally satisfied with the learning
resources. Based on an analysis of the results from two different
programs, it appears that students are generally satisfied with
the learning resources. In Program A, 68 per cent of
respondents reported that the learning resources helped them
meet the learning goals, and, in Program B, 90 per cent of
respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the learning
resources provided were useful and helped them pass
assessments (Appendix 3). These preliminary results indicate
that further research should be done to better understand how
OERs are being used and perceived by students. Additionally,
program coordinators share specific data with individual faculty
members as part of the course revision process; therefore, each
faculty is prompted to review and revise their OER work on a
regular basis.
Limited information is available about how UW Flexible
Option faculty perceived the experience of locating and
implementing OERs as primary resources. Anecdotal
conversation among instructional designers and faculty has
alluded to a potential positive impact on teaching practices. For
example, some faculty have acknowledged that the OERs they
located for Flexible Option could be used elsewhere in the
future. Therefore, one result observed among this population
of faculty is an increased awareness of how OERs can benefit
any teaching and learning experience.
For faculty that were already using OERs in traditional
courses, improved curation practices and contextualization of
them were additional positive outcomes:
This case illustrates a continual improvement approach to
widespread OER implementation. It is an example of a
program-level strategy that taps into existing organizational
personnel and resources as a means of establishing a
“collaborative institutional culture conducive to open
educational practices” (Judith and Bull, 2016, p. 8). The
evolution of this programmatic approach was driven by the
needs of both faculty and students.
Because the learning management system (LMS) is central
to self-directed learners’ experiences, it must be easy to use and
contain content that students find valuable. Consistent
organization and structure contribute to a positive perception
of the LMS environment and the learning content within it; this
When we curate things in the future, I think it would be easier for us if we
would write down short descriptions as we’re collecting and evaluating. And
bringing the outcomes or learning goal language into that description so it’s
a little more obvious to students how they fit together (Horn, 2016,
para. 11).
This interview suggests that UW Flexible Option faculty
develop specific skills for supporting self-directed competencybased learners. With the growth of competency-based
programs, such skills are certainly valuable to faculty, students
and the entire program.
Finally, the OER cura …
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