Training and Professional Development
Not all the work of creating an OER can fall on you as a single OER content manager. In this case, your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are the faculty and instructors who are creating or adapting the content of the OER. You are there to help them manage their project, not create the content for them.
What kind of training you offer to authors, adaptors, and adopters will depend on how much you expect them to do and what services you can offer. It’s very important to set those expectations right from the beginning, preferably in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or some other form of agreement. For example, you may not want to give your authors access to the publishing platform. If you choose to give authors access, you may need to set some guidelines for what the authors can and cannot change in the text and how often. If your author or adaptor is expected to provide you with a manuscript in a specific format, make this clear as well. If you are requiring your faculty adopters, adaptors and authors to participate in some kind of professional development opportunities, put that in the MOU as well.
When training authors, much of the content is similar to training your team. For example, your authors should have a basic understanding of what OER are, fair use, copyright, Creative Commons licensing and which type of license they can choose, where and how to find OER, and how to write an attribution statement and the basics of accessibility.
In addition to the basics listed above, your training of authors or adopters should address some of the known faculty concerns about and obstacles to OER adoption or publishing.
- A lack of awareness of OER
- Concerns about the quality of OER
- Not knowing where to begin or a lack of confidence
- Difficulties in finding suitable OER
- Workload concerns (i.e., takes too much time to create or redevelop my course or the belief that it is too difficult to create OER)
- Belief there is no material out there for a specific discipline and/or no ancillaries are available
- Academic freedom and intellectual property concerns (e.g., loss of control over content)
- Unclear about how OER might help with the tenure and promotion process
- Unclear understanding of copyright, fair use and CC licenses and a fear of liability
- Fear that the bookstore will retaliate in some way or at least not cooperate
- Belief that students will just spend the money elsewhere (e.g. recreation) (Cuillier 2018, Harold and Rolfe, 2019)
These objections or obstacles can keep a faculty member from adopting, adapting or authoring an OER. The best way to respond to these questions is to be prepared ahead of time. The Open Education Network (OEN) provides an excellent Guide to Answering Tough Questions (OEN “Guide,” n.d.). In addition, you will want to ground your responses in the literature so keeping up with new publications is a good habit. Here are some additional Frequently Asked Questions pages you may want to review.
- OpenWashington FAQ (Open Washington 2019)
- George Mason FAQ (Algenio 2021)
- A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (Wikisource 2013)
- OER Mythbusting (OER Policy for Europe, n.d.)
Consider gathering the questions you get from faculty and making your own FAQ page to which you can point faculty who have questions or concerns. Writing your own FAQ will help you formulate your responses and make them more relevant to your faculty and institution.
When offering training, you may want to partner with your local teaching and learning center. That way your offerings get more exposure and you don’t have to do all the work. In addition, collaborating with a teaching and learning center helps people to view authoring and adopting OER as teaching and learning practices. These centers have communities of faculty who are interested in learning more about teaching so this is a good way to establish connections. Consider recording workshops for future interested SMEs and authors or adopters who cannot attend.
Types of Training Offered
General OER “101” Workshops
These workshops are introductory and for those faculty or instructors who are new to OER and the issues surrounding affordable learning. They can be a brief ½ hour or as much as a full day or even several days.
Topics often presented include:
- High cost of textbooks – How the cost of textbooks has been rising for decades.
- Impact on students – How students get around buying expensive textbooks by sharing with a friend or relying on the library course reserves.
- What is OER? – A basic understanding of this concept is essential. Faculty may have a different understanding of OER than you do so it is important to get on the same page and clear up any misconceptions early on.
- Why is OER important? -This may vary according to your institution but mostly it has to do with cost savings, accessibility of resources, and opening up the classroom.
- Why would a faculty member choose to give their work away? – This is a common concern. While it may feel like you are giving your work away, OER always have to be attributed, giving the author a wider audience and impact with each reuse.
- Finding appropriate OER – One common faculty complaint is that they have a hard time finding OER. In a workshop, you can point them in the right direction.
- Evaluating OER – Faculty will ask about the quality of the OER. Just like a regular textbook, it is up to the faculty member to do a thorough evaluation of the content, layout, readability, and ancillary materials.
- Pros and Cons of using OER
- Open Pedagogy -This may not come up right away but it is the next logical step in going open and some faculty may already be familiar with the concept.
- Creative Commons licenses – How and when to use the licenses and how to determine what you can do with an openly licensed work.
- Basic copyright and fair use – Again, just to be on the same page about what can and cannot be done under fair use.
- Time factor involved in adapting and integrating OER into a course – Faculty will be concerned about the time it takes to adopt, adapt or author an open textbook. Be honest about this; it is a time-consuming process but in the end, the course will make a positive impact on their students.
- Integration of OER into your Learning Management System (LMS) – For many faculty having the OER in the LMS is a big incentive for moving to an OER.
- Writing an attribution statement – Most faculty will not know how to do this so you will need to walk them through the process.
|Pros of using OER||Cons of using OER|
|Increased access to learning for students||Quality concerns|
|Augmentation of class materials||Language barriers (most OER are in English)|
|Easy to access and distribute||Technology and access issues|
|Cost-savings for students||Sustainability issues|
For adopters or adapters, you may wish to cover more specifically:
- How to remix licenses: This is essential for adaptors who will be looking to remix one or more OER. It is also important to train your authors on how they need to keep track of those resources so that everything they use in their own resource has an appropriate attribution.
- How to track and attribute images: This is very important and often overlooked until the end. Again, adopters need to keep careful track of the resources they used so that they can apply a proper attribution to any images, graphs, charts or other media they use.
- Creating ancillary materials: If the project includes test banks, simulations, games or other material that is not in a standard format, you will need to let your author/adapter know how this material should be created and formatted for maximum accessibility and remixing.
- Copyright and fair use: A clear understanding of what is and is not under copyright and how fair use comes into play is essential. Here, you may want to review the Guide for Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources (Jacob, Jaszi, Adler and Cross 2021). Keep in mind that some institutions are more risk-averse than others so checking with your general counsel is probably a good idea.
For authors, you may want to add
- Textbook design: Layout and design are generally not in the author/adaptor repertoire unless they have published a textbook in the past. Here the Open Education Network’s Pub101 workshop (OEN “Open Textbook,” n.d.) is an invaluable resource, particularly the part on developing a textbook structure.
- Pedagogical devices or tools and how to use them appropriately: Pedagogical devices include such things as worksheets, glossaries or vocabulary lists, chapter or module summaries, etc. An example of an OER textbook that uses pedagogical devices is Modern Philosophy by Walter Ott at the University of Virginia. Again, the OEN Pub 101 is a great resource here.
- Universal Design for Learning: UDL is a way of constructing learning material that is open to everyone. See Chapter 18 for more on Universal Design for Learning.
You may want to offer a general workshop to your authors/adopters after they sign an MOU or other agreement. For this workshop, you can cover such things as the terms of the MOU, set expectations about what you can and cannot provide, talk about milestones and deadlines, review the publishing or creation process, establish communication protocols, etc. You may actually want to break this up into a small series of workshops so that no one gets overloaded with information.
Some examples of workshops that are offered include:
- OER textbook workshop: The Open Education Network (OEN) offers workshops on OER and OER textbooks which concludes with a call for participants to review an open textbook. Reviewing an open textbook can be an excellent starting point for faculty who are interested in OER but not quite ready to commit to moving to an OER.
- In-depth workshops: Workshops are similar to online courses, although in most cases these are more abbreviated (3-8 weeks). These may be synchronous or asynchronous. Because they are multi-week, these workshops allow faculty to develop a more in-depth understanding of OER, where to find them, and, more specifically, how to integrate OER materials into their courses. They allow for more faculty reflection and insight and can support faculty members who are adopting or authoring an open textbook. These workshops are often delivered using an LMS or via a website such as LibGuides. Some may require registration and include face-to-face components while others are completely asynchronous and self-paced.
Some examples of openly-licensed multi-week or multi-module workshops include;
- Open Content to Transform the Classroom (Bloom, n.d.)
- OER Up To Speed (Morehouse, n.d.)
- Houston Community College OER Certificate (Smith 2016)
- Open Washington – Offers a 10 module self-paced online tutorial on copyright and licensing, OER, and Creative Commons licenses, among other topics. This tutorial may be useful to your faculty and yourself, as someone who is new to OER. (Open Washington, n.d.)
- Introduction to Open Educational Resources (Arteaga and Watkim, n.d.)
Faculty Guides and Resources
Faculty guides are manuals or other resources that walk faculty through the process of finding, evaluating, adapting or adopting OER. These guides are often in the form of an openly licensed Pressbook or website such as a LibGuide and faculty can use these as a resource or a “step-by-step” guide through the creation process. Some institutions also use these guides in their faculty author training programs. Examples of guides or publications include:
The Rebus Community
- A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students (Mays 2017)
- The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far), with accompanying video series on YouTube.(Ashok and Wake Hyde 2019)
- BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide (Aesoph 2018)
- BCcampus Open Education Adaptation Guide (Aesoph 2016)
- BCcampus Open Education Adoption Guide (Aesoph 2019)
- BCcampus Open Education Faculty OER Toolkit (Moist 2017)
- Authoring Open Textbooks (Falladin and Lauritsen 2017)
You can use any of these resources in your training program as they are all openly licensed. At some point in the future, you could produce your own faculty guide that is tailored to your needs and institution.
Communities of Practice
Faculty support is essential to making an OER program a reality. Not only do they need to support the idea of OER but they will also need some support to help them as they adapt, create and integrate OER into their courses. Communities of Practice (CoPs) are used in many disciplines as a way to offer support and guidance to individuals working on similar projects. Communities of practice are made up of practitioners in a specific discipline or domain. They build community or relationships with each other as they explore and learn about their chosen domain (Wenger, MacDermott and Snyder, 2002). Koohang & Harman (2007) also note that CoPs are a way to address the issue of sustainability since the group works together to solve problems or share learning experiences.
CoPs for OER groups can be an effective way of engaging the faculty and providing professional growth in these areas. They are generally long-term (up to a year or more) and have criteria or expectations by which the participants need to abide. CoPs may be invitation only or application-based. Wright and Lambert (2019) have created an excellent resource about CoP for OER groups.
If you are interested in developing a community of practice at your institution, be sure to check out Pikula and Johnson’s work on CoPs (or learning circles) (Johnson and Pikula 2018). Keep in mind that these take some time to develop.
There are many opportunities for you to personally engage in professional development but you should also keep your faculty authors and adaptors apprised of any opportunities. Professional development, in this case, are learning opportunities that are outside of the basic or in-depth workshops. Some of these opportunities may be local or regional and it is unlikely that your author or adaptors will know about them. Scanning the various lists and blogs can help you identify relevant local and regional professional development. Many states or regional organizations have an annual OER symposium or conference. These are often free or have a minimal charge. Faculty may not be aware of these so keep them posted about these opportunities. Check around with colleagues in your network to discover more of these opportunities.
- Open Education Symposium at the University of Alberta is an example of a local professional development opportunity. In 2021, it was held during Open Education Week which is a great way to get future authors or adopters involved in OER.
- Another local example is the Missouri A&OER Symposium
In addition to local or regional workshops and training, there may be state or national professional development opportunities such as conferences or workshops. Faculty may also be looking for opportunities to present their work, so letting them know about a conference that may be of interest will be appreciated. Regional or national opportunities include
- OpenStax has hosted a CreatorFest (an annual hack-a-thon) for faculty interested in incorporating OER into their courses. It is an intensive 4 day workshop. The 2020 CreatorFest was canceled due to the pandemic.
- Open Oregon Educational Resources Annual Symposium is an example of a regional professional development symposium.
- Open Education Conference.
- OEGlobal. The OE global conference is currently being held online due to the pandemic but will hopefully resume as a face-to-face conference in the near future.
- While it isn’t a symposium, Open Education Week (usually held in early March) is a great time to offer professional development to your faculty or to attend events hosted by other institutions or consortia. There are many great events to choose from during Open Ed Week.
The good news is that many of these conferences and symposiums are often available to anyone and are frequently recorded (especially during the pandemic) so you can listen later.
Most of these professional development opportunities will be useful to you, your team, and to your authors and adopters. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these as it will also help you build your support network.
Training future authors or adopters of OER works is an important part of your job as project manager. You don’t have to know how to do everything but expect that people will look to you as the expert in open license publishing. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the topics described above so you can answer many of the questions likely to arise.
- OpenWashington FAQ (Open Washington 2019)
- George Mason FAQ (Algenio 2021)
- A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (Wikisource 2013)
- OER Mythbusting (OER Policy for Europe, n.d.)
- Faculty Communities of Practice on Open Educational Resources: A Toolkit (Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, n.d.)
- Developing a Community of Practice for Open Education with CCCOER (West and Daly 2017)
- Decide early what services you can and cannot support. Start small and grow your program. What kind of training you offer to authors and adopters will depend on how much you expect them to do and what services you can offer.
- Set expectations early on for the responsibilities that you and your author(s) will be taking on.
- Be prepared for potential authors to ask some tough questions about time, resources, and the benefits to them as faculty when creating an OER. Be honest about the challenges but also encouraging. Know what the common excuses are and be prepared to answer them.
- There are many resources available to assist you. Take some time to at least skim them before you embark on your first project.
Algenio, Emilie. 2021. “OER FAQ.” George Mason University. Last updated July 27, 2021, https://infoguides.gmu.edu/oer/faq
Arteaga, Rachel and Suzanne Wakim. n.d. “Introduction to OER.” Introduction to Open Educational Resources. Accessed January 21, 2021, https://canvas.instructure.com/courses/1123092
Ashok, Apurva and Zoe Wake Hyde. 2019. The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far). Rebus Community. https://press.rebus.community/the-rebus-guide-to-publishing-open-textbooks/.
Bloom, Matthew. n.d. “Open Content to Transform the Classroom.” Maricopa Community College. Accessed February 13, 2021, https://maricopa.instructure.com/courses/805732
Cuillier, Cheryl. 2018. “Overcoming Objections to OER from Faculty and Administrators.” Digital Initiatives Symposium 27. https://digital.sandiego.edu/symposium/2018/2018/27
Falladin, Melissa and Karen Lauritzen. 2017. Authoring Open Textbooks. Open Education Network. https://press.rebus.community/authoropen/
Harold, Sinead, and Vivien Rolfe. 2019. “‘I Find the Whole Enterprise Daunting’: Staff Understanding of Open Education Initiatives Within a UK university.” Open Praxis 11 (1): 71-83. https://www.openpraxis.org/articles/10.5944/openpraxis.11.1.918/
Jacob, Meredith, Peter Jaszi, Prudence S. Adler, and William Cross. 2021. Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources. American University Washington College of Law. https://oer.pressbooks.pub/fairuse/
Johnson, Kimberly and Karen Pikula. 2018. Chapter 11 – Evolving Supports for Faculty to Embrace, Adopt, and Author OERs. In The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in the Higher Education Environment: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples, edited by Kristi Jensenand Shane Nakerud. https://open.lib.umn.edu/affordablecontent/
Koohang, Alex and Keith Harman, 2007. “Advancing Sustainability of Open Educational Resources.” Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology 4:535–544. https://doi.org/10.28945/970
Mays, Elizabeth, ed. 2017. A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students. Rebus Community. https://press.rebus.community/makingopentextbookswithstudents/
Moist, Shannon. 2017. Faculty OER Toolkit. Victoria, BC: BCcampus. https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/facultyoertoolkit/
Morehouse, Sarah. n.d. “Get up to Speed with OER.” SUNY Empire State College. Accessed June, 9, 2021. https://subjectguides.esc.edu/oeruptospeed
OER Policy for Europe. n.d. OER Mythbusting. Accessed July 3, 2021. https://mythbusting.oerpolicy.eu/
Open Education Network (OEN). n.d. Open Textbook Publishing Orientation (PUB 101). Accessed May 17, 2021. https://canvas.umn.edu/courses/106630
Open Education Network (OEN). n.d. “Guide to Answering Tough Questions.” Accessed January 7, 2022. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sahW2dOmtxyTCeuGOkYcSeABnaxJvzJZLhvBSnnMvKI/edit#heading=h.aucry5ze307q
Open Washington. 2019. “Copyright and Licensing FAQs.” Accessed July 10, 2022. http://www.openwa.org/faq/
Open Washington. n.d. “Learn OER.” Accessed March 6, 2020, http://www.openwa.org/
Ott, Walter. 2013. Modern Philosophy. Victoria B.C.: BCcampus. https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/textbooks/397
Smith, Nathan. 2016. “OER Training Certification.” Houston Community College. https://learning.hccs.edu/faculty/nathan.smith2/open-educational-resources-information/oer-certification
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. n.d. “Faculty Communities of Practice on Open Educational Resources: A Toolkit.” Texas A&M University Corpus Christi LibGuides. Accessed January 21, 2021. https://guides.library.tamucc.edu/c.php?g=997065&p=7216487
Wenger, Etienne, Richard A. MacDermott and William Snyder. 2002. Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Knowledge Management. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
West, Quill, and Una Daly. 2017. “Developing a Community of Practice for Open Education with the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER).” OE Global Conference 2017. https://conference.oeglobal.org/2017/presentation/developing-a-community-of-practice-for-open-education-with-the-community-college-consortium-for-open-educational-resources-cccoer/
Wikisource. 2013. “A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources: Frequently Asked Questions.” Wikisource. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Basic_Guide_to_Open_Educational_Resources/FAQ
Wright, Lucas and Krista Lambert. 2019. Working Group Guide. Victoria, B.C.: BCcampus. https://opentextbc.ca/workinggroupguide/