Instructional Designers and Open Education Practices: Negotiating the Gap Between Intentional and Operational Agency

Tannis Morgan


In their role as support to faculty in the course development process, Instructional Designers (IDs) can play an important part in alleviating some of the well-known barriers of open education practices (OEP): faculty time, institutional or faculty resistance to change, and institutional support for faculty (Annand & Jensen, 2017; Barker et al., 2018; Jhangiani et al., 2016). This study examines how IDs negotiate OEP in the course development process or in the process of working with faculty. The findings suggest that IDs are negotiating institutional constraints while attempting to be OEP advocates in their work. To use Campbell, Schwier and Kenny’s (2009) framing of intentional and operational agency, the IDs in this study described a high level of intentional agency, but their operational agency could be enhanced with greater clarity of expectations with respect to their role, resources and capacity to engage with OEP, clarity of directives and support from senior leadership, as well as a broader awareness of the moral and practical affordances of OEP within their institutions.


Open education practices; instructional designers; open education resources; higher education; agency

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