:sync: Drawing Eyes and Building Awareness Around OERs

Authors: Erica Hargreave, Lori Yearwood
Institutions: BCIT / UBC / StoryToGo / Ahimsa Media, StoryToGo / Ahimsa Media
Countries: Canada, United States

Topic: Global Collaboration, Strategies, & Policies in Open Education
Sector: Lifelong Learning
UNESCO Area of Focus: Building capacity
Session Format: Workshop


While the Open Educational Resource (OER) community does a wonderful job of engaging with one another online, open educational resources are difficult to find, much of the conversation and resource building is limited to academia, and the broader educational and content creation communities are unaware of OERs and the OER community. For OERs to become more mainstream, we need to engage educators and content creators beyond academia in the conversation. We need to stop limiting our conversation to educational silos defined by what type of institution or organization that we work within. In addition, we need to make OERs easier to find. While there are some wonderful initiatives happening to aggregate and spread OER content, like the OER World Map and Open Education Week, we need to look at ways to increase the conversation around OERs in an ongoing manner throughout the year, in conversations with the broader educational and content creation communities. By improving the visibility to platforms that are aggregating OERs and broadening the conversation around OERs into expanding network of educators, we make OERs easier to find, and hopefully encourage a broader group of educators and content creators to contribute OERs to OER aggregators.

Our goal in this session is to come together to start planning ways to bring OERs into broader conversations amongst educators and content creators.


Online Engagement, OER Aggregation, OER Visibility, OER Awareness, OER Community Building


Hello Everyone,

I’d like to use this workshop to create an awareness building campaign as a community, so I invite all whom are interested to join in and bring any ideas you may have on bridging silos, useful hashtags for engagement, catalogues of OER resources to direct people to, and challenges that exist in reaching our desired audiences with the open educational content that we build, so that we might build community and a public outreach initiative together.

My plan then is to create a resource space after the workshop to share all the resources from the workshop, as well as a continued brainstorming space to put our campaign into action.

Also if anyone has any digital media / digital community building questions - that’s one of my things and something I teach, so feel free to bring any of those sorts of questions too.

Looking forward to brainstorming and concocting a campaign and community building initiative together on Thursday.

~ Erica


Is it possible that the term OER inhibits awareness to some extent? I wonder if people who are not directly involved with education might see it as something that does not concern them. Maybe emphasizing Creative Commons as a way of unleashing creativity and expanding access to culture could be a way to go, if we want to expand the community. When I’ve done copyright workshops for faculty I’ve used Copyright the Card Game (https://copyrightliteracy.org/resources/copyright-the-card-game/) and highlighted the Creative Commons aspect. This has worked well. Faculty tell me they have heard of CC, but not really understood what it was or how they could use it. I’m sure they’re not the only ones.


Paul is on to something here. As a learner, user, consumer of information / media, I care less about the virtues of open and more, “can I even see it?” “is it useful to me?” “what can I do with it?” It ought to appeal to their needs, not an Open Educators passion for the ideal.

The most basic human driver is “what does this do for me and the people I care about?”

So frankly, I don’t see how OERs appeal to students, beyond the cost/access factor, they care more about how well it supports their learning. I really do not see how the “Openness” makes a difference. When I peel an orange to eat, I care most about its flavors and texture and freshness, not how it was grown, or shipped, or packaged.

But I don’t think licenses are better avenue, you start from a place of permissions and avoiding legal battles rather than what Paul describes as “a way of unleashing creativity and expanding access to culture.”

I found when teaching the same digital media course that Paul has taught too (http://ds106.us/) when I attempted to start with the virtues or importance or values of using CC licensed materials, students really did not buy into it. They merely saw that this was something I advocated and cared about, but really, they had no stake in it.

So I stopped launching with openness is great or this is why you have to look for CC content, and went more about creating activities that nudged them into finding good content they could use for what they cared about, creating their own media. And ones where students remixed, notified othes (including themselves) when they reused someone else’s media.

I saw more understanding, appreciation when they experienced what it was like to support independent creators just by saying thanks/attributing and even more when they had an experience of someone else using what they had created.

Otherwise, we are just pushing/promoting values we believe in first. I think we have to appeal more to individual need/motivations.

Awareness and appreciation of OERs won’t happen just because of the virtues of the O (and access), it will happen because the of the value of the R, all of it compounded by and ecosystem of gratitude and appreciation, rather than of licensed permissions. licenses.


FYI Links mentioned in chat for this session

OER Humanities book, https://slcc.pressbooks.pub/humanexperience/
Barriers to sharing https://cogdogblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/barriers-1024x767.jpg
Structured Serendipity https://jasonzweig.com/structured-serendipity/
Elementari Storytelling platform https://www.elementari.io/
Kurt Vonnegut storytelling approach of the shape of stories https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3c1h8v2ZQ


Thanks Paul. Yes, I’ve wondered the same thing, and have talked to @paulstacey before about whether part of the issue is that different silos are using different terms, creating a disconnect both in building repositories of educational content intended for sharing, reusing, and remixing, and in end users knowing the terms to find that content. Thanks for the link. I am looking forward to checking that out.

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Wish I’d seen this before the workshop today. Beautifully articulated, Alan, and a very good reminder to remember of what’s important in education - fostering students desire to learn and experiment more by approaching from discovering what is meaningful to them. I think we were hitting on that at the end today.

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Thanks for compiling this list, Alan. You sir, are awesome!

Thank you everyone for being such an engaged group, sharing your ideas, thoughts, and teachings! You made my month!

Thank you @DanDubien and @cogdog for helping keep all on track.

Here are the session slides: Drawing Eyes and Building Awareness Around OERs.pdf (3.9 MB)

Now to organize what everyone shared to share with others and hopefully develop an open ed awareness building campaign to put into action with whomever is interested.


It’s always a pleasure to work with you, @EricaHargreave! I’ll be in touch to see how you want things to go further with this project!

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I love the photo of the idea sheets! Thank you again @EricaHargreave for hosting, and to everyone who particpated. My brain is now overflowing with things to ponder.
#openfirst y’all! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Sending a hug and a smooch on your cheek from afar. Thanks Danielle. Always a pleasure to work with you too.

Thank you, Anita. You brought so much to the session. I am very much looking forward to checking out your work and learning more about you and your world.

Loving the new sign off, by the way! #openfirst y’all! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Hello, here’s the recording of the session:


Thanks Mario. Very much appreciated.

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Sharing an additional response to some of my pre-workshop queries on OER Awareness in UBC’s Master of Educational Technology Program. These are Melissa Drake’s reflections:

"I think the biggest barriers to OER creation and adoption are that not enough folks know that these resources exist or how to go about creating their own in a way where their OER could be shared and found by others. Because of time constraints and the barrier of having to learn new tech, most MET students default to producing OERs as websites when there may be other better options out there. But then again, we are left to discover what these options are on our own, as well as learning about what an OER is in the first place.

I have wanted to create OERs in Canvas to share to Canvas Commons but have encountered resistance for the reasons mentioned above: overall comfort with website creation over trying something new.

Pre-MET, I used two different OER textbooks in courses I’ve taught, and stumbled upon one of them because I came across it on another faculty member’s syllabus. From there, I stumbled upon the other one. They followed this Pressbooks format, which looks phenomenal and has great navigation: https://open.lib.umn.edu/designequity/#main

But it’s costly. https://pressbooks.com/self-publishers/

I know I can submit an OER to https://www.oercommons.org/ and I went a few steps into this process, but stopped when I didn’t have each OER creators’ permission to post it. They have an open author software, but I haven’t tried it.

Here’s another place I’ve bookmarked to find OER textbooks: https://open.bccampus.ca/open-textbook-directory/"

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Started an Open Education Week continuity to this discussion here: You've Created An OER - Now How Do You Draw Eyes To It?