Support OER on Campus

Open Educational Resources or open learning content can serve as an alternative or enhancement to proprietary textbooks.  

Some benefits of OER include:

  • Fosters pedagogical innovation and relevance that avoids teaching from the textbook
  • Broadens use of alternatives to textbooks while maintaining instructional quality
  • Lowers costs of course materials for students
  • Provides opportunities to share and remix learning materials for customized and localized use
  • Fast feedback loop leading to continual improvement and rapid development

Some disadvantages of OER include:

  • Quality of available OER materials inconsistent
  • Materials may not meet Section 508 ADA accessibility or SCORM requirements and must be modified to bring into compliance
  • No common standard for review of OER accuracy and quality 
  • Need to check accuracy of content
  • Customization necessary to match departmental and/or college curriculum requirements
  • Technical requirements to access vary
  • Technological determinism created by the delivery tools 

Use of open content or learning materials on a college campus represents a daunting paradigm shift for both faculty and the institution (see Open Educational Resources: Toward a New Educational Paradigm).  Orchestrating such a shift requires a coordinated and system-wide effort that marshals the expertise, resources, and skills from a broad spectrum of the campus community. 

Step One: Needs Assessment

In order to promote use of Open Educational Resources across campus, the unique challenges on campus must be identified and addressed. 

Conduct a needs assessment of stakeholders to determine knowledge of, interest in, and use of OER on campus. 

Campus stakeholders might include:

  • Faculty opinion leaders
  • Librarians
  • Bookstore manager
  • Campus printshop manager
  • Academic senate
  • Department Chairs
  • Faculty association
  • Academic deans
  • Curriculum committee
  • Faculty trainers
  • Tech support staff
  • Administrators
  • Boards of Trustees

A needs assessment can be conducted in a number of ways:

Step Two: Identify and Prioritize Challenges

Based on your campus needs assessment, identify and prioritize specific challenges. 

Possible challenges:

  • Resources for faculty support
  • Quality assurance of learning materials
  • Limited availability of fully vetted and comprehensive learning materials in some disciplines
  • Articulation and transfer issues
  • Printing and computer lab demands on campus by students
  • Identification of collaborative tools for development, use, and delivery of OER learning materials
  • Fostering use of the tools by faculty 
  • Compliance with federal and state accessibility requirements

Step Three: Overcome Challenges

Recruit a Taskforce to develop specific strategies and an implementation timeline to overcome the top challenges.  Use marketing materials for campus presentations to recruit Taskforce volunteers and encourage participation in the campus OER initiative.

Possible Strategies:

  • Host Showcases or case studies (in person and online) in which faculty can demonstrate their effective uses of OER
  • Provide OER identification, organization, and development tools that are easy to use
  • Offer training in OER development and use (see Introduction to OER tutorial)
  • Establish OER “mentors” such as faculty within academic divisions or librarians
  • Mainstream the process for ordering “class packets” of OER to be consistent with the textbook adoption process
  • Provide faculty with discipline-specific open content that have already been vetted for quality and appropriateness for specific courses
  • Set up website for faculty to dialogue and share (e.g., PBwiki, Blogger, WordPress)

Step Four:  Sustainability 

In order to maintain use of OER on campus, engage faculty and staff in collaborative and mutually beneficial efforts to identify and produce OER.  For an example of such an effort, see the Plagiarism Module Project in which faculty are invited to contribute and share content to build a tutorial about plagiarism that will be made freely available to the public under a Creative Commons license. 

OER Development Projects and Tools

Projects that support the development of open educational resources include:

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