Training and Professional Development

Case Study 5: Creating a Reusable OER Training Program at UH Manoa

Billy Meinke-Lau

The Open Educational Resources (OER) program at the University of Hawaii (UH) began in 2014 with the hiring of a full-time librarian dedicated to OER adoption at the university system’s flagship campus, UH Manoa (UHM). Early work with OER at the campus level focused on curation and archiving of openly licensed textbooks and courses, the first step in an adopt, adapt, create strategy cast by administrators and stakeholders within the university.

Based in the UHM Outreach College and working collaboratively with system IT Services and the UHM Library, the OER librarian led introductory OER workshops, facilitated open textbook reviews with the Open Education Network, and created an institutional repository dedicated to OER. Adoption and uptake of existing OER grew during this two-year period, including large-scale adoptions in the subject areas of physics and economics. After the departure of the OER librarian in 2016, I joined the UHM Outreach College as the OER Technologist, tasked with moving the OER program into the ‘adapt’ and ‘create’ phases of the strategy.

Prior to this role supporting OER across the campus, I spent several years within the UHM College of Education designing online courses and programs. Even earlier, I worked for Creative Commons on their education and science initiatives, so I was comfortable with copyright, open licenses, and open source technology tools in addition to traditional instructional design methods. To make use of this expertise, I set out to create tools for UH instructors that would be useful to them as they became OER curious, translating complex and potentially intimidating concepts around copyright and publishing into consumable ideas.

Developing our workshops

A primary goal of the UH OER program was to empower faculty with the basic skills and knowledge needed to confidently work with OER. To do this, we had to identify the skills and knowledge that faculty needed, and to build our workshops around those competencies. Many of the skills and knowledge we identified as necessary for confident OER use overlapped with existing frameworks for digital and information literacy, which served as guides for developing a set of useful, tangible competencies. Beetham and Sharpe’s pyramid model of digital literacy development helped when framing OER work as an ongoing process, one which may potentially become part of an instructor’s professional identity ( Joint Information Systems Committee 2014). The Seven Elements of Digital Literacy from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) describe knowledge and skill areas within digital literacy — what it means to meaningfully participate in a knowledge economy as a student, researcher, or academic professional. At that time, most members of the UH OER interest group served in librarian roles, so the search for OER competencies included a review of ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education as well (Association of College & Research Libraries 2014).

Working from these digital and information literacy frameworks, I combined the outcomes associated with several existing OER training programs (Washington SBCTC, Leeward Community College, Kapiolani Community College), revised them to include technical competencies, and created a baseline set of OER competencies which would inform our workshops’ structure. Each competency represents a common activity associated with OER work, ranging from understanding fundamental advocacy arguments to understanding the various terms associated with Creative Commons licenses.

Key OER Competencies as Defined by UHM Library:

  • Define and describe the importance of OER
  • Differentiate between copyright, fair use, Creative Commons licensing, and public domain
  • Identify resources that are openly licensed, in the public domain, or all rights reserved
  • Distinguish between different types of Creative Commons licenses
  • License a work with a Creative Commons license
  • Upload a work into the UH OER repository
  • Combine work with different types of Creative Commons licenses
  • Properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work
  • List useful repositories and search tools for finding OER
  • Find OER that are relevant to a specific area of study or research
  • Assess the technical openness of an OER (ALMS framework)
  • Download an OER from the UH OER repository
  • Describe techniques for creating accessible OER
  • Describe the steps necessary to plan for OER adoption

I tailored the more general competencies to be UH-specific, referencing our institutional repository, and added competencies for adapting existing OER such as combining work with different open licenses and basic content accessibility practices.

The list of competencies was then split into three buckets, and a three-part workshop series was constructed around them. First, an introduction to OER with background on our program and foundational ideas of open education. Next, a deep dive workshop on copyright and fair use, including understanding and using Creative Commons licenses. Lastly, a workshop introducing the publishing tools we support at UHM, emphasizing the fundamental necessity of technical openness and accessibility. This three-pronged approach was intended to equip faculty with the essential skills to begin their process of working with OER, independent of expertise and other resources available to them.

Adapting the OER workshops into a workbook

OER Training Workbook cover art
Figure CS5.1. OER Training Book Cover

Each workshop was broken into written lessons that align to the key OER competencies we had identified, forming the UH OER Training guide published in 2018. Each lesson includes ancillary content with links out to further resources, plus H5P-based formative assessment items placed directly in the text. Putting to use the more common types of H5P interactivity, multiple choice and drag-the-word activities are embedded at the end of each module, providing simple checks to ensure learners are progressing. At the conclusion of each chapter is a summative assessment that requires learners to submit their OER findings (after a search) or share OER they have adapted slightly.

Modifying works on the fly can be an intimidating task, so gentle guidance and ample time can be helpful in training of this kind. The guide itself is a meta-OER, an OER about OER, and was built to be “open” in terms of having an open license (CC BY) and being shared in a technical format that allowed maximum remixability. Using the open source tools, both technical and legal, we demonstrated the potential of OER to lower barriers to collaboration, setting the stage for a range of reuse scenarios for this instructional content.

Making OER production workflows clear

Part of this process required the demystification of OER production, exposing tangible methods for both adapting existing content, and producing new works. Building off of traditional instructional design frameworks, I first outlined the start-to-finish process one would expect to go through when adapting or creating OER (Meinke 2017). The workflow went through several early iterations internally (within the UHM Outreach College) and then was released for comment via several OER interest groups and membership organizations. The workflow became a foundational piece of instructional content used in OER workshops, and was designed to orient potential OER reusers to the tasks, roles, and steps through a project.

A complex flowchart showcasing a production workflow for the creation of OER
Figure CS5.2. You can access a higher quality version of the Workflow and download a copy via Google Drawings.

During this process, I referenced OER-specific production workflows, especially that of OERu, and the CORRE model, which provide zoomed-out views of content production, revision, and reuse (Meinke 2016). The arrangements and sequencing of steps lended to my thinking on how collaborative projects reach milestones and produce new versions. However, they do not have an end per se because loops involving feedback and iteration are fundamental to taking advantage of OER. It is distinctions like this that make openly licensed and therefore openly modifying content so powerful, and so they were incorporated into our workflow for our faculty. Similarly to the UH OER Training guide, adapted versions of the UH OER Production Workflow diagram have been developed at higher education institutions across the United States. These tools were designed to be most useful internally at UHM, but designing for creative reuse was emphasized from the beginning.

What we’ve accomplished

We offer OER training each semester using the training guide and production workflow at UHM, which transitioned to online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to this, our three-part training had been offered solely face to face, but fortunately transitioning online with this training was straightforward. Feedback collected after our workshops through the UHM Center for Teaching Excellence continue to be positive, and new projects take form consistently following the training. OER development grants are offered each year at UHM as well, and these trainings have become a starting point for many projects later funded by the Outreach College.


Association of College and Research Libraries. 2016. “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” Accessed April 14, 2022.

Joint Information Systems Committee. 2014. “Developing Digital Literacies.” Jisc Guides. Accessed April 14, 2022.

Meinke, William. 2016. “Discovering OER production workflows.” Hawaii OER.

Meinke, William. 2017. “An OER production workflow for faculty.” Hawaii OER.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The OER Starter Kit for Program Managers by Billy Meinke-Lau is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book