BCcampus Open Education Working Group Guide: Start Big and Start Small

An excerpt from the Working Group Guide, by Krista Lambert and Lucas Wright.

The main purpose of the open working group is to introduce, establish, and provide support for open education at your institution. There are many different ways to accomplish this. Depending on the goals of the open working group, the group may focus on the development or informing of institutional policy related to open education. For other open working groups, there can be more of a grassroots focus in supporting individual instructors finding, adapting, and reusing open educational resources (OER) and teaching in the open. Open working groups often work simultaneously on both of these goals. In this section, we will share some approaches and tools for both of these approaches.

Start big! Consider open policies at the institutional level

When thinking about implementing open policies on an institutional level, there are a few questions you need to consider. Who can advocate for this? Whose support will you need? Who can help develop this?

Open working groups can have a significant impact on policy-level decisions. This can range from informing and advocating for policy changes on open to developing open policies for an institution. According to the OER Policy Development Tool, the broad steps in developing an institutional policy include seven components.

OER Policy Development Tool

The OER Policy Development Tool can guide you in developing each of these components. You can use the tool to develop policy or inform policy developed by other administrative, faculty, or student units.

  1. OER purpose statement. The college or university community needs to know why OER is important and how it aligns with the college or university vision and mission. An OER policy begins with a clearly stated and shared purpose.
  2. OER policy statement. An OER policy stipulates compliance with local, national, and international laws, regulations, and standards. To improve the chances of a successful college or university OER program initiative, it is essential that teaching faculty especially be engaged in writing the policy, beginning with the purpose.
  3. Licensing OER. Requirements for works created during the course of employment, including how they may be shared and used by others, needs to be clearly understood. Typically this is addressed in a college or university intellectual property (IP) and copyright policy. OER may be addressed in an existing IP policy or addressed separately in an OER policy. In either case, the use and creation of OER does not supplant an institution’s IP policy; it supplements the IP policy. We recommend, as a best practice, setting the default the most open and least restrictive Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) whenever possible.
  4. OER procedures and responsibilities. An OER policy makes clear who is responsible for what in developing and sustaining OER programs, including, for example, instructional aspects, training and professional development, student and cross-functional support, and leadership and governance.
  5. OER training and professional development. Training for faculty and staff is essential to introducing and sustaining an OER program. OER basics include such topics as locating OER; understanding intellectual property, copyright, and open licenses; adopting and adapting OER; and creating and sharing OER. Engaging with colleagues in the open community provides faculty and staff professional development opportunities, venues to exchange ideas and deepen their understanding and commitment to OER, and opportunities to build new networks.
  6. OER technical format. The technical format of OER creation and usage is an important consideration for OER policy. The OER created and/or used by faculty or staff should be in a technical format that allows for the greatest flexibility for retaining, reusing, revising, remixing, or redistributing content.
  7. OER quality assurance. The quality of the OER chosen by faculty as subject-matter experts to use in the courses and programs they teach needs to be of equal or greater quality than commercially distributed publisher content.

The focus of the OER Policy Development Tool is on OER; depending on the goals of the group, you may want to broaden your focus to consider including open education, open access, and open science in your policy development. In tandem with considering open policies at your institution, you may also want to consider opening up your own practices.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the current policies at your institution that support and inform OER and open pedagogy?
  2. What role does the open working group currently have in informing and developing OER policies?

Start small! Open your own practices

Be open and inclusive. Add value. Make visible what you are using from the commons, what you are adding, and what you are monetizing. Maximize abundance. Give attribution. Express gratitude. Develop trust; don’t exploit. Build relationship and community.

~Stacey and Hinclife Pearson (2017)

One approach a number of open working groups have used as a way to raise interest in open practices is to focus on opening up their own practices and resources. By opening up your own resources and practices, it can model the value of open practices, and it can also be used as a way to start a conversation about open practices. It is also a way to connect with other open working groups and enable people to build on and improve these resources. This process does not need to only involve licensing but also developing resources that are findable and accessible. Here are examples of things that you can open up:

  • Slides and lesson plans from professional development programs
  • Toolkits and documentation supporting open
  • Videos that showcase open at your institution
  • Survey tools
  • Meeting agendas, minutes, and terms of reference

This approach can start with the products and processes from the open working group and can be extended to the areas that you work in. What would it mean for a teaching and learning centre to openly license its resources?

In Practice: The UBC Open Working Group

The University of British Columbia (UBC) open working group began at the outset making all of its resources and processes open. This was an intentional decision, with the goal of making the resources and processes visible in order to disseminate them more effectively and to promote and support open through “walking the walk” with open practices. This approach has helped the development of the group and has served as a professional development opportunity for members of the group who needed to learn about open licensing, open sharing, and how to develop usable resources from the outside. The open pack has decided to share all elements of their practice, including presentations, meeting notes, agendas, memberships lists, work plans, and shared resources. To effectively do this in the open, they have developed an Open UBC Working Group portal where they share and/or link to products and processes created and used by the group.


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