Exploring Advocacy Strategies

You are familiar with OER repositories, processes connected to tagging and creating metadata, student OER advocacy, and frameworks for the sharing of OER among faculty. People on board with OER appreciate these tools and materials because they recognize their value and impact.

While OER is growing in popularity, there is a number of reluctant faculty and instructors who remain skeptical or are in the exploration phase.  These figures, the result of a survey conducted by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois Open Educational Resources Task Force, give some insight into the status of OER in higher education institutions.

OER Usage Chart

How can we grow engagement numbers? What strategies can we put in place to promote OER’s assets and benefits? There are myriad ways to do this work and opportunities for you to take steps that address your learning environment’s specific concerns, needs, and wishes.

Developing an Action Plan

Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC, advises defining some key parameters at the beginning of an OER initiative. Not surprisingly, much of this advice applies to initiating any kind of large-scale change at an institution, so you may have seen similar approaches taken in other contexts on your campus. This can be reassuring, since you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with each new initiative that comes along.

Developing an OER Campaign

Stage Motivating Questions
Problem What’s wrong with the status quo?
Vision How would the world look if the problem didn’t exist?
Solution What specific change or series of changes could bring the world closer to your vision?
Barriers What customs, policies, behaviors, or entities stand in the way of your solution?
Goal get {target} to do {proposal} by {timeframe}

  • Proposal: What work do you hope to do?
  • Target[s]: What decision maker[s] have the power to advance your proposal?
  • Timeframe: When do you seek to accomplish your project?
Influencers Who influences your target?
Strategy How are you going to get {target} to do {proposal}?
Tactics What specific actions will you take to execute your strategy?

Common strategies include

  • Create a climate where X is likely to do Y
  • Persuade X to do Y
  • Incentivize X to do Y

Additional strategies also include putting pressure on X to do Y, and holding X accountable for doing Y, but these are more potentially problematic strategies, and might end up doing more harm than good.

Allen’s presentation on OER Advocacy can be viewed in full here:

Examples of Strategies for Promoting OER

The OER Champion Playbook from Lumen Learning is a collection of ‘plays’ you can use to expand effective use of OER. The playbook shares strategies and tools to help you achieve a significant impact on teaching and learning using open educational resources (OER).

Access the OER Champion Playbook

For further insight, you can explore the following resources. As you do, take note of the strategies that institutions and/or individuals have used (or recommend using) to promote and expand the use of OER — such as grants for OER development or professional learning communities that discuss the merits of OER.

Successful OER Adoption Models: Academic Libraries Leading the Way
This webcast features four librarians who shared their experience in supporting OER in creative ways with students, faculty, and community members.

Promoting OER: How to Create an Open Textbook
In this interview, Dr. Maximilian Heimstädt reports on his experiences in the production of the OER textbook Organizing Openness on the one hand, and on his research findings regarding the organization of openness and the promotion of open science on the other.

Open Educational Resources and Their Use in Higher Education
This piece highlights the uses and value of OER, encourages higher education institutions to adopt them, and recommends several strategies for their implementation.

How you promote OER on campus, among your peers, across stakeholders depends on many factors. Your approach will be strategic to meet specific academic demands in alignment with institutional policies and practices.

Discuss the Benefits

Meet with individuals (other faculty members, departments that could be involved in OER promotion, students, etc.) on campus who are in key roles to influence and support an OER initiative to inform them of the benefits for students, faculty, and the institution.

Make sure to emphasize the benefits of OER, such as how they:

  • Support a variety of educational practices
  • Are readily accessible (typically with minimal or no limits)
  • Have licensing regulations that protect copyrights
  • Come in myriad media formats (many might focus on the open textbook, but OER are have multiple “shapes and sizes”
  • Enhance pedagogy and student achievement
  • Support equitable educational opportunity
  • Invite faculty and student creativity in resource development
  • Reduce student materials cost (emphasize access, equity, diversity, and inclusiveness as a result)

Image by Grafik: Markus Büsges, leomaria (Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Share Success Stories

What better way to generate interest and ultimately buy in to OER than by sharing stories of those who have benefited from them and have experienced the impact in the context of teaching and learning? Or by featuring successful models of OER and innovations that have had impact in other educational institutions?

What do these stories tell? Here’s a sampling. Jot down ideas that come to mind about OER tales of impact and achievement that you can use.

McHenry County College: Open Educational Resources (OER): Share Your Story
Faculty complete an online form that leads to a compilation of stories around OER use, impact, design, development, revision, redistribution, etc.

Open Collections: More about Open Educational Resources (OER) and how to use them
This is a set of videos featuring educators and students sharing their experiences with OER.

More Colleges Use Open Educational Resources
This article highlights the impact of OER usage on campus, related usage and development practices and trends, statewide support of OER initiatives, and explores the role of libraries in promoting OER resources.

Announce through Media Channels and Technology

Did you conduct OER research that generated impressive results about their impact? Does your institution have a unique OER model? What news do you have to share about OER that can encourage buy in from others? Announcing successes through media venues makes OER efforts and impact visible and promotes their adoption.


  • Creating press releases that highlight a positive of OER.
  • Submitting the findings of research studies to recognized academic journals.
  • Writing feature articles about faculty and students effectively using OER to submit to on-campus publications or association journals and newsletters.
  • Launching an OER-focused blog.
  • Recording a series of podcasts featuring discussions with OER developers and users.

Explore this list of OER-related social media sites from the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois.

Point to OER Growth, Trends, and Practices

Consider joining national and/or global OER consortiums and networks to stay on top of trends, events, policies, and practices that you can share with relevant stakeholders. Seeing the national and global expansion of OER can inspire its adoption. Take a look at this interactive OER map for powerful evidence of a growing OER presence.

Write on this Course: Recognizing Barriers to Adoption

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As you have progressed through this course, you have learned about the affordances that open licenses bring. At the same time, you may have concerns about barriers to adoption at your institution. Share your thoughts on these barriers to adoption by responding to these questions:

  • Does your campus provide support for the OER adoption process, as well as incentives for faculty interested in adopting and/or creating OER?
  • Is there a perception issue on your campus related to the quality of OER?
  • Does institutional culture support the adoption and/or creation of OER?
  • Do you know who the campus stakeholders are, related to OER initiatives on your campus?

You can use Hypothesis to add your answers as public annotations to this page. Comments are welcome anywhere on the page. Please use the tag #SUNYOERChat in your posts.

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The content in this course is adapted from the following works: