Open Content and Lean Teams: Rethinking Distance Course Design

P.B. McKimmy (USA)


Open content, open educational resources, open source software, lean teams, distance education, distance course development, distance course-design, systems.


The design of distance courses, especially online courses, is practiced in a variety of approaches. Especially within higher education, instructors working alone or with largely unstructured resources are the norm for developing new courses. With the continuous growth of available open content and the growing movement toward open access scholarship, free and accessible digital content has ushered in new opportunities for course development. Course design models are not limited to craft (isolated instructor-driven development) or systems (a specialized team) approaches. The lean team approach is viable, wherein one or more subject matter experts partner with a small team of technology and design specialists. Lean teams can leverage the inputs of their subject matter experts and the free and accessible digital content ushered in by recent surges in open content participation. The results can be effective in comprehensively addressing learning objectives, containing costs, maximizing flexibility and reuse of course materials, and improving the overall learning experience for students. Issues of intellectual property, copyrights, faculty compensation, and academic cultural expectations are tied to such changes in development practices. This presentation considers these issues and reflects on the experiences of the Distance Course Design and Consulting team, a lean team tasked with course design at University of Hawai`i-Manoa since 2008. Re usability, accessibility, and open resources have become central themes.

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