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Open Educational Resources Advocacy Toolkit

Why Target Your OER Advocacy?

The next stage of OER advocacy is aimed at understanding why you should target your advocacy efforts.

Targeting your advocacy efforts will help you achieve your goals and objectives. An analysis or audit of your educational institution can help you identify where the power and influence is in your institution. Once you've identified the importance of strategically focusing your advocacy efforts you can then look at developing an effective strategy.

To further understand your context, start by undertaking due diligence at your institution. It's important to learn all that you can about your institutional context. The adage 'knowledge is power' will serve you well. So, what does this mean in practice? By conducting an analysis or audit of the situation at your institution you should find answers to the following questions:

  • What are your institution’s vision and mission statements? – How do OER align with these values?
  • What strategic documents can help you better understand where OER might fit? – Is there a strategic plan, policy or procedure you can review? Does your institution have a teaching and learning plan or whitepaper that might be relevant?
  • Are there any existing movements on campus that you can align with? – The library is a good place to start. Libraries are big proponents of open everything. For example, having a good understanding of the bookshop’s role within the institution (is it revenue generating or cost neutral?), what undergraduate advocacy initiatives have been undertaken in the past (have student executives run on platforms of textbook/course affordability?) and whether student retention or attraction is an issue will help you better understand larger conversations across campus and how you can fit OER into that dialogue.
  • Review your campus course offerings  What courses offer an opportunity to move to an open textbook? Are there courses where a transition would be more impactful due to large enrolments, costly textbooks or required completion across programs?
  • Be aware of some of the commonly cited challenges of OER adoption  Understanding how these challenges influence campus stakeholders will help you prepare a counterpoint for each.

Identifying Key Allies for OER Advocacy - Why it’s Important to Target the Right People

While we often talk about 'open' as synonymous with 'free', this is not always the case.

It's important to identify colleagues (locally and outside your institution) that can help you to sustain your OER advocacy efforts. Advocacy comes at a cost. It requires real academic labour and can be both isolating and tiring. The work will often be undertaken as an extracurricular activity initially as few institutions have mechanisms that recognise and reward such efforts. These colleagues are often referred to as early adopters or enablers and they align with why you advocate for OER. Their ears are open, they're listening and inquiring and they're ready to take action.

At the early stages of advocacy, you'll also need to spend a high percentage of your time fostering OER champions at your institution.

  • Think if there is anyone on your campus engaged in this work –  Does your institution have a librarian that works with OER or online/blended/e-learning? Is there someone within a research support or scholarly communications team that might have open included in their portfolio?
  • Are there academic staff who have adopted and/or curated OER for their courses? – Can you connect with them to learn more so that you can champion their efforts visibly and vocally?
  • Who are the academic staff that are considered 'innovative?' –  They may already unknowingly be engaging with open education. Check lists of teaching award winners. These academic staff are known for being student-centered and creative, so it's very likely that they will be receptive to a conversation.
  • Do you have colleagues who are not working at your home institution? – Perhaps a community of practice can exist beyond the walls of your campus.

Fostering your OER champions, engaging in partnerships, working parties, coalitions and collectives across multiple areas helps to expand your message. It also highlights strength in numbers and diverse representation and helps build a solid foundation for cultural change. Be open and flexible when working with others, consider if you’re partnering with people who share interests in progressing OER, how you can keep them engaged and how you can establish clear terms and goals to help target your advocacy (Stoneham, et al., 2019).

Everyone’s group of champions and goals are different. Below are potential allies and/or influencers to start your list, but remember to think internally and externally:

  • student groups (student associations, student representatives on committees, student peer leaders)
  • learning and teaching committees (at the faculty/school and institutional levels – consider targeting individual representatives you've alrady worked with)
  • academic staff experienced in OER (how can you highlight/celebrate their work as part of your advocacy? Can these staff attend key meetings or copresent to provide a practical reflection on the experience?)
  • educational designers
  • events teams (orientation, open day, etc.)
  • accrediting bodies (are there key professional requirements that can be met by OER?).

Where can you find common ground?

OER Advocacy - Mapping Your Landscape

In addition to people, think about the resources already available at your institution to support OER advocacy. Consider any initiatives currently in place to further your advocacy as well. Use the table below to chart a campus inventory or create your own to align more clearly with your institution. This information will help you define the OER landscape at your institution and identify gaps where you can align your advocacy goals.

People
(i.e. divisional and/or academic staff

Resources
(i.e. data, student fees)

Initiatives
(i.e. grant programs, dedicated OER committees)

 

 

 

 

   

'Campus Inventory Chart' in the CAUL OER Advocacy Toolkit by CAUL, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence, adapted from the Textbook Affordability Student Toolkit by Open Oregon Educational Resources, used under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

Attributions

Adapted from:

OER The Champion's Toolkit by Krysta McNutt (Alberta OER Initiative), licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 licence. 

'Defining Stakeholders' 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.

References

Stoneham, M., Vidler, A., & Edmunds, M. (2019). Advocacy in action: A toolkit for public health professionals (4th ed., pp.38–39). Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA. https://www.phaiwa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019_Advocacy-in-Action-A-Toolkit-for-Public-Health-Professionals-1.pdf