Introduction: Creating an OER Using an Open Learning Design Framework

Dr. Barbara Brown; Dr. Verena Roberts; Dr. Michele Jacobsen; Christie Hurrell; Nicole Neutzling; and Mia Travers-Hayward

This chapter is an adapted version of a paper submitted to the OTESSA 2021 Conference Proceedings. The copyright notice[1] for the proceedings includes information about the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license that allows us to remix and adapt the article for this ebook. We thought it would be helpful for readers to know more about the process that we used to develop the book and how we worked with students over a one-year period to prepare the manuscripts. There were seven student-authors who contributed their chapters to this book. All of the chapters were written during the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrate many of the educational technology and ethics topics selected by graduate students that were particularly concerning during this period of time. This includes creating national healthcare applications with personal information; excessive video gaming for children; the need for data literacy skills for teachers and students; access to broadband in rural communities; online cheating and use of e-proctoring; video intrusion during synchronous online classes; and the risks in using artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data in educational contexts.

The chapters are divided into two parts, each of which converges on a theme related to the ethics of technology in learning environments. In Part I: Emerging Ethical Questions on User Well-being in Technology-Enabled Learning Environments, authors grapple with how users (i.e., students, children, etc.) interact with technology that, when treated as ubiquitous or efficient, may introduce personal risks that are overlooked. These chapters explore questions about how students and young people experience digital environments in different forms, and the complex ways in which interactions with technology can enhance or diminish their well-being.

  • Steeves discusses video intrusion and the ethical considerations of requiring web camera use in online learning environments. This chapter suggests the application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles can help provide an open and safe learning environment for students.
  • Luinstra discusses the ethical considerations of adopting e-proctoring software in post-secondary education, and considers how students experience this form of surveillance. This chapter offers long-term strategies such as adopting approaches for authentic assessment and suggestions for ways to use e-proctoring solutions with the least invasive features.
  • Hendrickson explores the opportunities and challenges associated with video game use for school-aged children, and discusses Farrow’s (2016) framework for the ethics of open education as a tool to help parents and caregivers make decisions about when video game play should be encouraged or discouraged to avoid or minimize risks.
  • Maciach examines the ethics of online learning by focusing on the challenges that rural, remote, and Indigenous communities face to access reliable broadband internet. As the pandemic drove K-12 classrooms online, students without a stable internet connection were unable to participate fully in their new digital learning environment. The chapter questions the government’s ethical responsibility to guarantee home broadband access to all learners, and the implications of such a commitment on student privacy and autonomy.

In Part II: Critical Considerations of the Ethics of Technological Advances and their Effects on Autonomy and Privacy, authors contemplate the ethical balance between embracing digital innovation and prioritizing ownership over one’s own data. The chapters in Part II discuss the many social benefits of advancements in learning technology, while centring the implications of this rapid development on the personal autonomy and privacy of users.

  • Humphreys discusses the benefits and ethical implications of implementing a 1:1 program where each student in the classroom has access to at least one device at all times. Data literacy is recommended to help teachers, students and their families keep safe by learning more about data security.
  • Templeman discusses a safe and socially responsible manner for examining technological advances in education, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data, to help avoid harm and minimize risk. The chapter concludes with key questions to contemplate when considering the use of new technologies in educational settings.
  • Dunham discusses the benefits and challenges that can result from implementing a clinical information sharing system to improve the continuity of care for all Canadians. A digital healthcare platform can be helpful for accessing accurate records but can also present issues of cybersecurity and privacy.

In 2020, we created a similar book Ethical Use of Technology in Digital Learning Environments: Student Perspectives (Brown et al., 2020), with nine chapters with topics such as artificial intelligence, social networking services (SNS), 3D printing, academic resource sharing, adaptive learning systems, STEM, assistive technologies, and consideration for post-secondary admissions and institutional communications.

In this introductory chapter, we describe how an instructor, students, program coordinator, and members of a research team were involved in the co-design of an open educational resource in a graduate program in education. A four-part open learning design framework was used to guide the course design: (a) co-design process; (b) building and sharing knowledge, and making thinking visible; (c) building relationships; and (d) sustaining learning beyond the course. The framework, along with the collaborative team effort that was part of a larger research project, enabled the development of an openly licensed and accessible digital book. The project brought together a collaborative team that was passionate about learning more about open education, and a small grant supported the additional expense of professional copyediting to refine the book.


Co-design and Participatory Pedagogy

In design research there has been a notable shift from a user-centred approach to a more participatory and co-designed approach (Barbera et al., 2017; Sanders & Stappers, 2008). In a user-centred approach, the user might be invited partway through a project, for example, to conduct usability testing, whereas when using a co-designed approach, the user is a partner and involved in all phases of development (Sanders & Stappers, 2008). Co‑design relocates the user from consumer to producer; in educational contexts this situates students as knowledge creators in learning activities instead of as recipients of knowledge (DeRosa & Robison, 2017; Jahnke et al., 2020). Students who are part of the co-design process within an interactive learning environment have a personal investment in the learning task, which can be described as a participatory pedagogy approach (DiPietro, 2013; Sanders & Stappers, 2008). In other words, co-design can be a methodology implemented by instructors along with their students (Barbera et al., 2017). It can also be considered a highly facilitated instructional process that can lead to the development of educational innovations (Roschelle et al., 2006). Further, consistent with Gee’s (2005) principle of learning in video gameplay, co-design can be simply described as a way to empower learners as active agents in a highly student-centred learning experience (DeRosa & Robison, 2017; Wiley & Hilton, 2018).

User participation and interaction in design processes is an important aspect of co-design (Sarmiento-Pelayo, 2015). For example, in an edited volume, graduate student authors, with assistance from undergraduate student editors, described a range of student-centred learning and teaching practices and called their book “both a product of student-centered learning and part of that process” (Ashton, 2017, p. 13). Students can be empowered learners through participatory pedagogy and by co-designing open educational content, connecting with scholarly communities, and working in public spaces (DeRosa & Robison, 2017). Co-design can provide an opportunity for students to take learning beyond the expectations of the instructor or intentions behind the course design, thereby extending the value of their work beyond the course (Jahnke et al., 2020; Paskevicius & Irvine, 2019).

Research on co-design in digital and open learning environments highlights the importance of describing a situated context when examining learning processes and the roles of instructors and students in the learning process (Barbera et al., 2017; Clinton-Lisell, 2021). Rich descriptions of pedagogical designs in open education contexts can contribute to a deepened understanding of openness in teaching and learning (Paskevicius & Irvine, 2019). This book emerged from a graduate program in educational technology at the University of Calgary. Students worked with their instructor, peers, and members of a research team to co-design the chapters for release through Pressbooks, a content management system that allows books to be published in an openly licensed digital format that can be easily accessed, reused, revised, and remixed. The research team comprised experts in educational technology, including the course instructor, program coordinator, and another faculty member, as well as a librarian, a master’s-level graduate research assistant, and an undergraduate research assistant. The team received modest financial support from a grant focused on scholarship of teaching and learning, which funded the two research assistants as well as a professional copyeditor. Additionally, the team took advantage of an institutionally supported Pressbooks platform to host and distribute the final open educational resource (OER).

Open Learning Design Framework

The student authors prepared their draft chapters in a course called Ethics and Technology. It is part of an online master’s certificate program entitled Leading and Learning in a Digital Age, which is offered by the Werklund School of Education. The two preceding courses in the program, Interdisciplinary Learning and Technology and another called Technological Literacy, provided a foundation for students to write the chapter. The final course in the program, Leading Citizenry in a Digital Age, helped students consider knowledge mobilization. Collaboration with members of the research team and work with a professional copyeditor also supported students to complete their final chapters for publication, which occurred after they had finished the program courses.

The open learning design framework that guided the course design for Ethics and Technology had four interconnected parts: (a) clarifying the co-design process and negotiating each learner’s personal learning pathway; (b) building and sharing knowledge through learners choosing how to communicate their learning and make thinking visible; (c) building learning relationships, and (d) sustaining the learning throughout the writing process and beyond the course by developing and expanding upon personal learning networks (Roberts, 2019). In our project, we expanded on this framework by extending learning relationships to include members of the research team.

Clarifying the Co-Design Process

The activities leading towards the development of the chapters were designed as a layered and supportive pathway to provide students with multiple opportunities to share their ideas and to receive ongoing and continual feedback. Topic selection was bounded using Farrow’s (2016) framework of ethics for open education, and students chose a topic related to the safe and ethical use of technology in digital learning environments based on their earlier course work, the readings provided during the program, and their personal interests in technological and ethical issues.  Students conducted further literature searches to support their topic of inquiry and prepared an outline and 1-minute pitch as part of their course work. The course outline described co-design as follows:

Learning is a shared responsibility. As such, in this course, the students will explore the ways in which students and instructors can share the process of co-designing learning within one graduate course. The students and instructor will co-design and develop an open educational resource (OER), in this case a pressbook, as a framework for co-designing participatory pedagogy and conditions for learning. Pressbooks are a sustainable and openly shared digital publishing tool to create an openly licensed digital textbook that current and future students can reuse, revise and remix with others. The pressbook is being created and hosted in conjunction with the Taylor Family Digital Library as a pilot for other University of Calgary courses.

Building and Sharing Knowledge and Making Thinking Visible

The students were expected to work alongside and with their peers to regularly offer feedback when others shared their outlines and pitched their ideas. When searching for literature, the students would often find relevant literature for their peers. Students were encouraged as co-designers and active participants to share resources with peers and help peers throughout the learning process. Students were organized into self-selected social pods to connect, interact, and give feedback to each other throughout the course (DeWaard & Roberts, 2021). The social pods were intended to provide an opportunity for the students to clarify course expectations and develop trusting relationships with peers throughout the course.

Chapter development involved several stages. First, students developed an initial draft and engaged in iterative cycles of formative feedback with peers and their instructor. Then, students engaged with experts external to the course to receive additional feedback on their draft chapters (students were assisted with identifying external experts if necessary). Students used a variety of tools and techniques to engage with each other and to give and receive feedback, either synchronously during class time (e.g., Zoom chats) or asynchronously using collaborative authoring tools (e.g., Google Docs), discussion threads, or informal social media conversations with the class hashtag #EdTechEthics.

Specific feedback activities were designed within the course (e.g., 1-min pitch); however, other feedback activities developed more serendipitously as the students discovered how and with whom they needed to connect and interact. The choice and variety of feedback activities highlights the need to consider students’ open readiness (Cronin, 2017). The following information was included in the course outline to help prepare students for this formative feedback:

The role of the instructor is to facilitate the work and to support students as they engage in the learning tasks. The course is designed to ensure the students connect and interact with multiple feedback loops throughout the course. The feedback loops include group feedback, outside of the class feedback and instructor feedback. The instructor will also provide students with ongoing, timely, and constructive feedback to further their learning and growth in interdisciplinary learning and technology.

Students were asked to reflect upon their open learning experiences in a final assignment as a way to help make their thinking and learning visible to themselves, their instructor, and others. They reflected on the learning process and the sequence of the layered learning tasks and formative feedback. Students were open to active learning and collaboration with peers and others. According to the students, formative assessment and reflection were key parts of the co-design process and layered assignments that supported their engagement in learning.

At the end of the course, each student submitted their draft chapter and personal reflection to fulfill the course requirements. All students in the program were offered the opportunity to contribute their chapters to the OER pressbook.

Building Learning Relationships

Throughout the Ethics in Technology course, students were building relationships with peers, with instructors, and with content experts. Peer groups were often mentioned by students as an important support as they navigated a challenging assignment. Following the course, students also started to develop relationships with members of the research team when they refined and finalized their chapters. During this period, students were also invited to complete a survey, participate in a semistructured interview, and share artifacts from their learning experiences in the program. As reported by Jacobsen et al. (2021), developing human interactions and building relationships through a co-design model that integrates digital tools can enable the development of OER and provide an authentic scholarly activity that engages students in collaborative knowledge building.

The open learning design framework (Roberts, 2019) used in Ethics and Technology helped students actively engage in the co-design process as a participatory pedagogy while developing an OER (Jacobsen et al., 2021). This learning design facilitated the extension of relationships and interactions beyond the course, building the students’ personal learning networks and supporting the development of a learning community. Students’ relationships with outside content experts and members of the research team, including the program coordinator, librarian, and research assistants, contributed to the co-design and completion of the chapters for the pressbook, and extended beyond the duration of the course and the program.

Sustaining Learning Beyond the Course

Students approached outside experts during the course for different types of feedback and assistance as they developed their chapters (e.g., conceptualization of ideas, recommendations for literature, draft review). Although it was uncomfortable for some students to ask for assistance from family members, let alone reach out to experts outside of the classroom, they reported that they appreciated how this collaboration helped them develop their personal learning networks and forge connections that could be carried beyond the graduate program. Experts from outside the class (e.g., university librarians, many of the authors of the assigned course readings, and the program coordinator) were intentionally integrated into the course design though webinars and added as suggested expert support in weekly instructor emails and in communications using the course hashtag.

The program coordinator role for the master’s certificate is a voluntary service role, and after the course was completed, the coordinator helped facilitate further feedback and refinement of the chapters. The draft chapters were reviewed by two members of the research team for content, and two other members of the team for format, including APA citations and references. Following these reviews, the chapters were returned to students to consider and implement changes. After the students completed their final edits and changes, the librarian on the research team prepared the pressbook and worked with the team to help upload the final versions of the chapters. A professional copy editor, who was funded through the research grant, reviewed the chapters and suggested final changes. Students were provided with one more opportunity to finalize their chapters prior to publication.

The total process for completing the OER, including the 12-week Ethics and Technology course, and the back-and-forth communications with the chapter authors and edits, was 1 year. Project momentum was sustained through a combination of grant funding, enthusiasm and commitment from the students and the team, including the course instructor and program coordinator, and the diverse range of expertise that the research team brought to this project.


A four-part open learning design framework guided the co-design of this project: (a) clarifying the co-design process and negotiating each learner’s personal learning pathway; (b) building and sharing knowledge through learners choosing how to communicate their learning and make thinking visible; (c) building learning relationships, and (d) sustaining the learning throughout the writing process and beyond the course by developing and expanding upon personal learning networks (Roberts, 2019), including relationships with members of the research team. Infrastructure support, such as institutional access to the Pressbooks content management system and research grant funding, helped make the development of the chapters into an OER possible. The project also required a collaborative team effort. Team members shared different forms of expertise to contribute to this project, such as expertise in educational technology, participatory pedagogy, open education, digital authoring, editing, copyright and licensing, to name a few. The team’s diverse expertise and commitment to open pedagogy has allowed it to continue to develop OER in subsequent iterations of the program, even absent of grant funding. As the development of OER in higher education continues to evolve with the aim of strengthening learner engagement, further study is needed to examine co-design as a participatory pedagogy.

Authors’ Contributions

Conceptualization: VR, BB, MJ, CH; Data curation: MT, NN, BB, VR; Formal analysis: MT, NN, BB, MJ, VR; Funding acquisition: BB, VR, MJ; Investigation: BB, VR, MJ; Methodology: MJ, CH, BB, VR; Project administration: BB; Resources: CH, NN, MT; Software: CH, NN, MT; Draft writing, review, and editing: BB, CH, MJ, VR, NN, MT.

Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID)

Barbara Brown

Christie Hurrell

Verena Roberts

Michele Jacobsen


Grant identification number: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary


Ashton, H. (Ed.) (2017). Structuring equality: A handbook for student-centered learning and teaching practices. The Graduate Centre Learning Collective.

Barbera, E., Garcia, I., & Fuertes-Alpiste, M. (2017). A co-design process microanalysis: Stages and facilitators of an inquiry-based and technology-enhanced learning scenario. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(6), 104–126.

Brown, B., Roberts, V., Jacobsen, M., & Hurrell, C. (Eds.) (2020). Ethical use of technology in digital learning environments: Graduate student perspectives. University of Calgary [eBook]

Clinton-Lisell, V. (2021). Open pedagogy: A systematic review of empirical findings. Journal of Learning for Development, 8(2), 255–268.

Cronin, C. (2017). Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 18(5).

DeRosa, R., & Robison, S. (2017). From OER to open pedagogy: Harnessing the power of open. In R. S. Jhangiani & R. Biswas-Diener (Eds.), The philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science (pp. 115–124). Ubiquity Press.

DeWaard, H., & Roberts, V. (2021). Revisioning the potential of Freire’s principles of assessment: Influences on the art of assessment in open and online learning through blogging. Distance Education, 42(2), 310–326.

DiPietro, P. (2013). Transforming education with new media: Participatory pedagogy, interactive learning and Web 2.0. The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, 8(5), 1–11.

Farrow, R. (2016). A framework for ethics of open education. Open Praxis, 8(2), 93–109.

Gee, J. P. (2005). Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines.  E-learning and Digital Media, 2(1), 5–16.

Jacobsen, M., Brown, B., Roberts, V., Hurrell, C., Neutzling, N., & Travers-Hayward, M. (2021, June 17–18). Open learning designs and participatory pedagogies for graduate student online publishing [Paper presentation]. International Teaching Online Symposium, University of Windsor, Canada.

Jahnke, I., Meinke-Kroll, M., Todd, M., & Nolte, A. (2020). Exploring artifact-generated learning with digital technologies: Advancing active learning with co-design in higher education across disciplines. Technology, Knowledge and Learning.

Paskevicius, M., & Irvine, V., (2019). Open education and learning design: Open pedagogy in praxis. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2019(1), 1–10.

Roberts, V. (2019). Open educational practices (OEP): Design-based research on expanded high school learning environments, spaces, and experiences [Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary]. The Vault: Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

Roschelle, J., Penuel, W. R. & Schechtman, N. (2006, June 27–July 1). Codesign of innovations with teachers: Definition and dynamics [Paper presentation]. International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Bloomington, IN, United States.

Sanders, E. B.-N., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 4(1), 5–18.

Sarmiento-Pelayo, M. (2015). Co-design: A central approach to the inclusion of people with disabilities. Revista De La Facultad De Medicina, 63(3), 149–154.

Wiley, D., & Hilton, J. L. III. (2018). Defining OER-enabled pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4).




  1. Authors contributing to the OTESSA Journal agree to release their articles under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. This licence allows this work to be copied, distributed, remixed, transformed, and built upon for any purpose provided that appropriate attribution is given, a link is provided to the license, and changes made were indicated. Authors retain copyright of their work and grant the OTESSA Journal right of first publication. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in the OTESSA Journal.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Ethical Use of Technology in Digital Learning Environments: Graduate Student Perspectives, Volume 2 Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Barbara Brown; Dr. Verena Roberts; Dr. Michele Jacobsen; Christie Hurrell; Nicole Neutzling; and Mia Travers-Hayward is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book