Gaining support at all levels and from many departments is critical to the launch and continued success of an OER initiative. Explore the following effective practices to foster support and inspire others to support OER initiatives on your campus.
Assemble a Team
The greatest investment colleges and universities make in OER is around faculty and staff time.
Typically, this reflects the reallocation of existing staff time to OER and away from other activities. Establishing a sustainable OER program will require that campuses have these essential human resources in place to develop, manage, and grow their OER programs.
Campuses can plan for anticipated OER-related personnel resources by considering:
- the organizational framework envisioned for OER activities; and
- the faculty/staff necessary to grow and support the work.
It is important to recognize that personnel requirements for a mature OER model may differ from requirements during the growth phase.
What will the OER organizational structure look like? There are various organizational structures that campuses may consider, including:
- An OER Coordinator position that oversees and manages the work
- Leadership from a support unit, such as the library
- Embedding oversight into an existing academic center, such as a center for teaching and learning or distance learning/online education office
- Embedding the work into departments with a designated faculty member or OER committee/task force leading the work
- A hybrid approach that incorporates more than one of the above approaches (or changes over time as the program matures).
Once the institution’s preferred organizational approach is selected, the necessary faculty and staff can be identified to lead and manage the work. Such work is likely to include
- Recruiting advocates who can inform and assist in the development of a campus-wide OER implementation
- Working with librarians, instructional designers, and technology support staff in locating, storing, and maintaining OER
- Working with campus printing service and bookstore to provide on-demand OER in print
Inspire the Support of Faculty and Students
There are many ways to gain support on campus for OER initiatives, with a focus on the key targets — faculty and students. The common theme is to share OER stories — including challenges that may be getting in the way of success.
- Via live virtual or face-to-face campus-based faculty and/or student panelists speaking to their successful and substantive OER experiences
- At off-site professional development workshops, “brown bag” lunches, conferences, regional conventions, guest speakers, etc., supported in part through faculty mini-grants
- Through faculty discussion forums or during campus-wide department faculty meetings
- With press releases targeted to local, regional, and state media with a story or event underscoring the tremendous impact of OER, like enhanced instructional practice and greater achievement for a higher number of students
- On campus websites (which can tap into not only your faculty but also faculty across national and global campuses)
- In campus-wide publications or department-specific newsletters
- Through faculty and staff advisor awareness of OER section designation (that enables them to assist students in searching for those sections)
- With e-mail announcements about OER course options that students recognize during course registration.
- On the campus website with an informational page focused on OER (videos, social media, course listings, etc.).
- Through the student government, which can learn about and promote OER offerings and opportunities to contribute to OER creation.
- Via surveys to determine student awareness of and interest in OER and textbooks.
- Through the creation of OER handbooks or guides.
Establish Incentives for OER Adopters and Developers
Support from administration, including the president and provost, is critical to the launch and continued success of any OER initiative. Finding ways to incentivize and help faculty take the challenge of reengineering their courses is one of the most important steps in this process.
Developing an OER course from scratch is a significant amount of work. Adopting OER courses is easier, but can still be very time-consuming. Take some time to explore possible incentives that may be available, such as compensating faculty with overload, stipend, or reduced class time in support of taking on an OER initiative.
The organizational structure to sustain OER will define the additional roles that faculty may assume, such as serving as formal OER mentors, fellows or committee/task force members.
Share the Results
Metrics play an important role in monitoring OER’s growth and impact on campus. Metrics may be used for basic reporting and monitoring purposes; they also can provide additional context useful in storytelling that highlights OER’s impacts on students and the campuses. Selecting the appropriate metrics depends on the information required and the purpose it will serve:
- What do institution and system leaders want to know about OER?
- What information will encourage faculty and students to transition to openly licensed materials?
- What can OER advocates share that will help build ongoing support from institution, system, and state leaders?
Since student savings are often the primary motivation for developing OER courses, the savings from eliminating or reducing commercial textbook purchases is often a key metric. Institutions already collecting information on textbook costs as part of their OER proposal process can merge it with information on course enrollments to estimate aggregate savings. Otherwise, textbook prices can be requested from the bookstore or collected from the bookstore website.
Traditional measures of textbook savings assume all students would have purchased a new textbook and therefore reflect “maximum” student savings. More realistic estimates adjust for student purchasing patterns, including utilization of used or rental texts, or forgoing textbook purchases altogether, as well as shopping at lower-cost online retailers. These adjusted estimates should also capture any additional costs students may incur from OER course fees or the optional purchase of printed OER textbooks.
Student success-related metrics can be used to show OER’s impact beyond just student savings. For example, comparisons of student performance in OER and non-OER sections can help departments diagnose any imbalances across OER and non-OER course sections. Differences in DFW (Drop/Fail/Withdrawal) rates can also be analyzed to determine if OER courses are generating any departmental efficiencies by reducing the number of students that need to repeat courses. However, the basic calculations comparing student outcomes should not be used to make causal inference about the efficacy of OER without accounting for other factors, such as student characteristics and preparation.
Institutions may also choose to administer surveys to collect additional contextual information about students’ and faculty members’ perceptions and experiences with OER.
OER Metrics: Basic and Advanced Calculations
Metric Basic Calculation Advanced Calculation Implementation
- Number of OER courses and sections, and percent of total courses and sections
- Number of OER enrollments (duplicated) and percent of total enrollments
Basic metrics calculated for:
- Department (or college)
- First-year courses
- High-enrollment courses (define)
- Student characteristics (e.g., Pell students)
Student Savings Maximum student savings (OER enrollments x new textbook cost) Adjust to reflect textbook purchasing patterns and additional costs:
- Use blended textbook price (total new, used and rental sales ÷ total units sold)
- Exclude the proportion of students that do not purchase textbooks (estimate using information from own or other student surveys)
- Adjust for proportion of students purchasing lower-cost used textbooks online (own or other student surveys; literature on used textbook prices)
- Add offset for any OER course fees charged
- Add offset for printed copies of OER materials purchased
- Number of DFWs and DFW rates in OER/non-OER sections
- Average grade in OER/nonOER sections (Use for diagnostic purposes only; differences may be attributed to student/faculty/course characteristics)
Adjust for student/faculty/course characteristics (e.g., grade point average; socio-economic indicators; type of OER) Perceptions
- Student survey (e.g., OER awareness, quality, textbook use, financial savings, etc.)
- Faculty survey (e.g., availability and quality of resources; development time; professional development and support, etc.)
Additional OER-related topics of interest
More to Explore
OER Best Practices to Scale Up
This site from the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) shares best practices for gaining campus support, and scaling up OER projects.
The OER Playbook from TC3
This resource from Tompkins Cortland Community College shares insight into promoting OER on campus.
SUNY Albany OER Fellows
This document describes the Provost’s Open Educational Resource Fellowship at the University at Albany.
CUNY Library-Led OER Initiative
This case study from CCCOER details the experience of the development and growth of CUNY’s OER initiative led out of the Office of Library Services (OLS).
OER Impact Calculator
This tool, provided by Lumen Learning, allows you to plug in actual or target metrics from your own institution, in order to see the impact it will have across your campus.
Write on this Course: Promoting OER at Your Institution
Based on the approaches you have explored in this course, reflect on what you would do to promote OER in your institution. Share your thoughts on promoting OER by responding to these questions:
- What models would you put in place or adapt?
- What new strategy would you develop?
- How would you expand the promotional methods you already use?
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.
Unless otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The content in this course is adapted from the following works:
- “OER Playbook” by Tompkins Cortland Community College is licensed under CC BY 4.0
- “OER Field Guide for Sustainability Planning: Framework, Information and Resources” by Donna M. Desrochers, rpkGroup, is licensed under CC BY NC SA 4.0