Every OER should have an ‘afterlife’ beyond its initial use — changing and evolving to ensure ongoing relevance and continued adoption. In this way, your role shifts from creation to a focus on maintenance, updates, corrections, and assessing impact.
Whether or not adoption is the explicit goal you’ve been working towards, the open license on your book is nonetheless an indicator that you recognize that others can benefit from your book. It’s therefore worth putting in some effort to encourage and track adoptions.
Spread the word far and wide. The larger the group of people who know about your OER and the impacts it has had in classrooms, the greater the likelihood of more adoptions.
Recognize the implications of the open license. The openness of OER means a lot for students and instructors, including access and use with few or no barriers. At the same time, openness can make it hard to keep track of who’s using the book.
Be responsive to grow the community of practice. Act on adopter and student feedback, and put adopters in touch with each other and the rest of the project team. Remain attentive to ways in which adopters can help expand and update the text. Corrections, updates, and additions can also be based on wider shifts in the resource’s discipline or subject area.
Be public about in-progress and completed updates. Anyone invested in the resource will be motivated to keep it up to date; informing them about expected improvements can prompt them to help or simply look forward to the update.
Be transparent and consensual about the data you’re collecting. State explicitly what information you’re asking for and how it may be used. Follow the guidelines in your region, so that adopters are comfortable and informed when submitting their details.
Parse, process, and plan before you do. Prioritize which tasks need completing first, based on the resources at hand and the complexity of the tasks. Use the scale of changes to determine timelines and the release of new versions and editions.
Be flexible! Adopters might not follow your preferred methods of reporting, but it’s still a win if they’re using the book and letting you know!
The possibilities of improvements, spinoffs, and adaptations are endless, but they don’t all need to be done by you. Remember, the community around your book will grow with time, with many nodes branching off from each team member:
- Project managers: sets up Adoption Forms, submits reports about the OER’s impact, communicates with the group of adopters, makes connections between new and current collaborators, oversees projects through to completion
- Authors: connects with potential adopters, can be adopters themselves, revises content based on feedback from adopters and students, records them in the Version History
- Editors: connects with potential adopters, reviews feedback from adopters and students, decides which changes are immediate and which should wait for newer versions or editions of the OER, prioritizes work for future versions or editions, implements changes and records them in the Version History
- Students: provides feedback about the book after using it in their classroom
- New Adopters: uses the OER in their classroom, joins the community around the resource, participate in revising or expanding the OER
The release and adoption of your OER are big milestones worth celebrating, but they also mark the beginning of a new set of steps, including the following:
- Document the desired impact of your OER upon release in all areas including student success, institutional capacity, transformation in your discipline, personal change, adoptions, etc.
- Engage a community of practice of adopters and students around your OER. Set up clear communication pathways from the book and ancillaries, so new collaborators can reach out.
- Create a clear and simple Adoption Form and ensure there are clear ways for adopters to find the form.
- Assess the scale and urgency of improvements needed following the resource’s initial release and establish a process around maintaining and updating published OER.
- Propose a workflow to collect information on your OER’s efficacy, as you observe how your OER is having an impact to advance student success, pedagogy, or other institutional Open Education goals at your campus and beyond.
- Always keep everyone informed about ongoing work and estimated timeframes for completion.
Your OER will continue to change and evolve as it is a living document and so will your role as creator. Your efforts following the OER release will slowly shift to maintenance, updates, corrections, and assessing the impact of the resource.
Read on to learn more about post-release considerations.