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Open Educational Resources Advocacy Toolkit

Getting Started with Targeting Your OER Advocacy

Reach your goals by communicating clearly about what you want. Start with a strong message followed by an appropriate method of delivery. Then it’s all about practice, practice, practice.

Tailoring your message:

  • Define your key message – Keep in mind your goals, allies, available resources and data. Once you have your key message, you can tailor and adapt this for different audiences.
    • The tone, length and style depends on the audience, but the basic message should be the same.
    • Make sure your messages are consistent and supportive of the long-term aim, just framed in different ways (YWCA Australia, 2020).
    • Developing a set of messages for different groups strengthens a clear and targeted advocacy plan.
  • Write the hook –

'The hook, for any message, is the piece that is going to make the audience want to pay attention. The hook should be short, factual, honest, direct, but compelling. The most obvious hook for students is the cost of textbooks, but that hook might not work for faculty who might consider the cost of textbooks as part of the cost of education. In your hook, try to avoid overtly provocative language that will make your audience need to argue with you. A hook that often works with faculty is reminding them of students who don’t have the textbook for the first weeks of the quarter. Hooks that work with administrators could be access to education, institutional costs for textbooks (how much are departments spending on textbooks at your institution), student satisfaction, and student persistence. Whatever hook you arrive at, be sure that you have facts that back the hook up, and make sure the hook is relatable for your audience'.

- From 'Crafting a Message' by Quill West in Librarians as Open Education Advocates by Rowena McKernan, Tria Skirko, Quill West and Library as Open Education Leader, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

  • Craft the elevator pitch – Develop a couple of key points that you can easily remember and deliver with confidence. Include what is really important to your audience in this pitch, i.e. textbook cost, course design flexibility, retention, etc.
  • Choose the mode of delivery – Engage meaningfully with your audiences by presenting information in ways that make sense for those groups. For example:
    • students may respond to an orientation week activity focused on gathering feedback on textbook costs.
    • academic staff may be more suited to a short presentation or demonstration on OER benefits.
    • university executive teams may prefer a formal report or discussion paper outlining cost savings, promotional aspects and how OER supports higher-level strategy.
  • Practice and revise – Solidify your message with a colleague and practice responding to challenges. Think of potential questions you may be asked and work through how you will answer them with supporting evidence. Revision is an important part of this work. Take note of what resonates with each audience and adjust your wording and approach as needed for future opportunities. Actively seek feedback from audiences as appropriate as part of your revision process.

OER Advocacy Decision Board

You can use this OER advocacy decision board template (available as an A4 [Word 36KB] or A3 [Word 36KB] handout) to plan your advocacy, refine your approach and ensure clarity and purpose in your activities.

What are the key issues?

e.g. student finances, need for flexible learning resources, more freedom for educators to design resources, desire to implement authentic assessment.

How do OER contribute to addressing the opportunity?

e.g. by lowering direct costs to students, providing equitable access to resources on first day of semester, opportunities for academic staff to localise content legally, offering students meaningful assessment practices to increase engagement and achievement.

Short-Term Change
What would change in the short-term if you are successful? Who would benefit from those changes and how? What stands in the way of those short-term changes?





Long-Term Change
What would change in the longer-term if you are successful? Who benefits from these changes and how? What barriers will you likely encounter?
Your Audience
Who are the key groups and individuals where you will target your advocacy?
Your Allies
Who can help you access your audience? Who can help remove the barriers you’ve identified?




What Do You Want from Your Audience?
What do you want your audience to agree to by the time you leave them? Are you asking for endorsement of a proof of concept activity, time, funding, commitment to small-scale change or support to gather evidence or evaluation? Be clear with your request and consider consulting with colleagues beforehand to gauge the feasibility of your request.





Adapted from 'Crafting a Message' by Quill West in Librarians as Open Education Advocates by Rowena McKernan, Tria Skirko, Quill West and Library as Open Education Leader, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.


YWCA Australia. (2020). Y advocacy?: An intersectional feminist toolkit.