Some OER initiatives are fortunate to have sufficient internal resources and expertise to support them as they grow, typically drawing from the library, the center for teaching & learning, and other parts of the organization. Others struggle to provide all the support their faculty members need, either because internal resources are stretched, or because interest in OER adoption outpaces the capacity of the teams tasked with supporting it.
Fortunately, there are great “plays” in the realm of partnerships. You can partner with a variety of organizations to increase your capacity and support for OER adoption. Here’s how:
Identify where you’re seeing gaps, bottlenecks, and pain points.
Where are your gaps and blind spots when it comes to supporting OER adoption? Do your faculty struggle with where to find OER? Not understanding how open licensing works? How to bring it into the learning environment technically? How to approach course design using OER? How to assess quality? As you identify areas that outstrip your internal expertise and bandwidth, it provides guidance on what types of partnerships could be beneficial to build your capacity and support your faculty more fully.
Identify potential partners with solutions and/or expertise to fill your gaps.
A variety of organizations provide worthwhile products and services to help you remove barriers to OER adoption for your faculty. These might include companies, non-profit organizations, advocacy organizations, other educational institutions, and individual experts.
Conduct research and make inquiries about who’s doing the kinds of things you want to achieve – and doing them well. Keep in mind the open education community is doing a lot of things that have never been done before. This means some of the most valuable partners might be those you trust to help you figure out something new.
Get to know potential partners and how they work.
Use the internet, conferences, webinars, and other information sources to check out partners and request getting-to-know-you meetings. Find out how they typically engage with organizations doing the types of things you want to do. How do they work with faculty members? Talk to their current partners and customers, to learn about their experiences and whether the partner’s approach would be good for your project.
Inquire about costs and payment models for the type of partnership you’re exploring. Different organizations have different models for how to engage with their people, products, and services. Payment models range from totally free to “donation requested” to membership fees, subscriptions, and charges per student or per service engagement. What will work best for you, given your administrative structure, budget, and what you’re trying to accomplish?
Select and develop partnerships to help you remove barriers and achieve your goals.
Once you find a partner that is a good fit, commit to developing this relationship so you can realize its full value. Fruitful partnerships require attention, time, and collaboration. Make the effort early to set partnerships up for success based on common goals and milestones.
Bringing in a new partner is a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness and build momentum around OER adoption. When you take advantage of this opportunity, you’ll make quicker progress towards accomplishing the things you want to see from both OER and the partnership itself.
Potential Partner Organizations
The following list is a sampling of organizations working actively to support OER adoption and faculty professional development related to OER in higher education.
- BCcampus – Support for innovative teaching and learning practices
- CCCOER – Consortium for collaboration and professional development around OER adoption among community colleges
- Cengage OpenNOW – Digital courseware designed using OER
- Creative Commons – Open licensing and related advocacy
- Intellus – Digital courseware designed using OER
- Lumen Learning – Digital courseware designed using OER, faculty support, and adoption expertise
- Merlot – Searchable OER library, repository, and creation tools
- OER Commons – Searchable digital OER library, repository, and network
- Online Learning Consortium (OLC) – Faculty professional development
- Open Textbook Library – Search for and review openly licensed textbooks
- OpenStax – Open textbook publisher
- SPARC – Library and librarian support for OER
- TopHat – Digital courseware designed using OER