The “Big Release” is one of the most gratifying phases of the OER creation process. – it’s one where your project really begins to take shape as a whole, usable resource and team members see their hard work culminating as you get ready to release your OER!
To make the most of it, a coordinated effort allows the word to get out and the resource to get into people’s hands. However large your audience, it’s important to take your time with these final steps, to make sure the book is in the best possible shape for release.
Estimate targets, but stay flexible. Plan to have your OER released one to three months before the academic term in which you’d like to use it. Set a date during the scoping or content creation phase, but remember to revisit and adjust your timeline if and when things change.
Revisit your initial goals and measures of success. Make sure that the resource meets the objectives you set out early on, in terms of both content and formats.
Preparation and planning makes everything easier. Working to build a community of potential adopters and meet accessibility standards at every stage of the process means you will not be rushing to do so during the final weeks before release.
Have fun along the way. Release isn’t all checklists and spreadsheets—it also includes elements like designing an attractive cover, writing stories about your experience making the book, and highlighting the impact the book can have, all with a great group of collaborators!
Almost everyone on the team will have a part to play leading up to the OER’s release. Note that teams come in all shapes and sizes, so the following roles may not always be so distinct:
- Project manager: keeps everything on schedule, coordinates with the team, conducts final checks on the resource, creates adoption forms and tracking sheets, notifies the community about the release
- Technical lead: converts content into accessible formats for readers (minimum: web, editable, and offline formats), does content layout and styling, adds front and back matter
- Accessibility reviewer: reviews the formatted resource to ensure that formats meet accessibility standards, meets with instructional designers to make sure the book meets all learners’ needs (including those with recognized disabilities)
- Proofreader: conducts final check after formatting, to catch any small errors
- Designer: creates an engaging ebook and print cover (which may also be openly licensed), makes other marketing collateral as needed (e.g., pamphlets, slide decks, videos)
- Marketing team: updates the OER description, prepares a release announcement, collects blurbs about the book to feature on the cover or in communications, creates promotion plan
- Other team members: helps with final checks, submits the OER to repositories, sets up print on demand, and spreads the word
Once content is finalized, you can start working on some of these processes:
- Plan your formatting workflow with your team, based on assigned roles, institutional capacity, and external resources/ collaborators available.
- Determine the output formats for your OER and appropriate considerations (i.e. metadata, cover design, front and back matter, etc.) in learning design to ensure equal access to the content for your audience.
- Prepare all members in your team to fulfill their responsibilities regarding formatting and release duties (i.e. manage time, learn technology, build institutional capacity, create promotional materials, do final checks, etc.)
- Create an adoption form and encourage users to self-report adoptions, and use this information to prove the book’s impact.
- Follow accessibility checklists provided by your university or regional boards and prepare an accessibility assessment that shows your book meets these standards.
- Expand and build on existing promotional storywork to support the eventual release of your OER
Release is just one of the many débuts that your OER will have. After you send it into the world, it will be used, expanded, and adapted in many other ways. So this phase of the process is about having confidence that the resource is ready to be shared, while also being ready for it to be taken on (and maybe released anew) by the communities of practice that form around it. Then, as it becomes part of the disciplinary landscape, start thinking about a long-term vision, including ancillaries, new versions, and/ or remixes.