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Open Educational Resources Advocacy Toolkit

The Role of the OER Advocate

The OER advocate – whether hired into this role or undertaking these activities as part of another position – is often the first point of contact at their institution when questions concerning OER arise. The advocates’ role encompasses:

  • teaching about OER and often intellectual property rights, to individuals, committees, working groups and discipline teams
  • advising and encouraging the adoption and use of openly licensed materials
  • gathering relevant and compelling evidence within the institution to support the case for OER
  • identifying existing institutional goals that can be achieved or enhanced by OER initiatives and communicating this value to stakeholders.

This last point is especially important for successful OER advocacy. It helps to align OER with currently supported projects and initiatives, so that OER isn’t perceived as 'yet another thing' that will increase workload for faculty, administrators and students without providing any tangible benefit. Instead, OER advocates should try to integrate OER into other activities at the institution and tie OER benchmarks into other activities constituents are already engaging in. For example:

  • Can OER be tied to the development of online courses, regular assessment of textbooks, scheduled curriculum review or perhaps accreditation work?
  • Are there grant projects at the institution that might benefit from the inclusion of OER?
  • Could engagement with OER be recognised in learning and teaching components of academic promotion applications?
  • Does the institutional learning and teaching or strategic plan include outcomes OER can contribute to? Consider any outcomes related to access, participation, retention, attrition or student achievement.

This is the lens for OER advocates to ask:

  • How can OER improve our success in this initiative?
  • How do OER add value to this situation or desired outcome?
  • Why would staff engage with OER?

An OER advocate’s main focus is on people and their institution. Listening to and understanding their motivations, goals, pressures and aspirations is the first step toward linking people with open education.