How can OE efforts from faculty, practitioners, and librarians be recognised and incentivised?

Hi all,

I’m Paola Corti, and I’m serving as a member of the Board of Directors for OE Global. I am from Italy and work as a project manager in METID, the Learning Innovation Unit of Politecnico di Milano, an institutional member of OE Global. I am also the OE community manager for SPARC Europe, serving the European Network of Open Education Librarians, whose work continues to be focused on implementing the UNESCO OER Recommendation. I use it as a guiding document whenever I start a new project or activity: it helps me refocus on the action areas and how the new project can, directly and indirectly, support operationalising them.

As with every other OE practitioner, there are limitations I deal with. Some depend on me, and I can do my best to go beyond them - largely thanks to the OE community, which is always keen to share ideas and solutions in places like this (so, thank you all!). Some other limitations are not in my control; they relate to institutional decisions or contextual issues. I focus on the firsts but am interested in understanding how to contribute or grab opportunities to work on the seconds in time. One of these issues is recognition. Recognition strategies play a crucial role in acknowledging and rewarding educators for their efforts in adopting and adapting Open Educational Resources (OER).

So here is a question: what types of institutional support, beyond financial incentives, have proven most effective in encouraging faculty to embrace OER and in which context? How can institutions create a supportive environment that recognises and rewards faculty efforts in adopting and adapting open educational resources?

I have found some ideas about the subject, but I’d love to ask the OEG community for more examples of how it works in diverse contexts. I’m listing these ideas here; you might be inspired (as I am) or refer to them in your reply to share what works in your context.

  • Let’s start with offering professional development opportunities, recognising faculty engagement in OER adoption and librarians’ engagement in promoting them. This can include workshops, webinars, and training sessions focused on OER integration and effective teaching practices.
  • It might be with formal acknowledgement in faculty evaluations, by integrating OER-related activities into faculty evaluation criteria, recognising and rewarding faculty members who actively contribute to the development and use of OER in their teaching and research.
  • It can go through the creation of OER Awards to honour educators who have demonstrated excellence in OER adoption and creation, or through practices or advocacy, highlighting outstanding contributions in terms of student benefits. Or by integrating OER-related criteria into existing teaching awards, recognising educators who demonstrate innovation and excellence in teaching through OER and/or OEP.
  • Providing faculty fellowships or grants to support OER initiatives could be another strategy, including financial support for creating OER, conducting research on the impact of OER, or organising workshops to share knowledge within and beyond the institution.
  • The institution can also designate faculty members as “Open Education Champions” to recognise their commitment to promoting and implementing OER. This designation can be accompanied by public acknowledgement and visibility within the institution.
  • Fostering a sense of community by encouraging collaborative recognition initiatives might work, too. For example, establish recognition programs that involve peer review, where faculty members recognise and celebrate each other’s contributions to OER.
  • Provide opportunities for faculty to publish and disseminate their experiences with OER adoption. This could include showcasing case studies, articles, or presentations at conferences, highlighting the positive impact of OER on teaching and learning.
  • If institutional leaders publicly acknowledge and express appreciation for faculty members who contribute to OER initiatives, they can reinforce the value of OER adoption across the institution.

Creating a supportive environment that values and encourages faculty engagement with OER and recognising the efforts of educators contributes to a culture of openness, collaboration, and continuous improvement in teaching and learning.

I’d be grateful if you would share what works in your institution and why so we can get inspired and try following your lead, if doable.



Thanks @Paola for this discussion launcher. I’m confident we could collect a good number of examples of this already in place, wouldn’t that be valuable?

Already top of my head thinking of @wanhsu1234 's board viewpoints post on the Open Awards program at the Taiwan Open Courseware and Education Consortium. There might be too many grant programs to list (but let’s try).

And for the other recent board viewpoints post by @lena - do microcredentials have a role? And also leading to the new focus by @dajbelshaw and colleagues at the We Are Open Co-Op on going beyond credentialing to Open Recognition.

My associative links memory is also connection to the OEGlobal 2022 Lightning talk by @lcbyoung on Gratitude- Thanking Faculty for their Role in OER (recording and slides available there).

Much we could share indeed, but I’d like to introduce an idea that’s been bouncing around my head. I was fortunate this year to become a co-facilitator with @marcela of OEGlobal’s Open Awards for Excellence, and when you talk to (or listen, we have podcasts!) to past winners, the impact is very significant to them.

At the same time, a typical awards program like this is shaped like:

Public domain image found at Rawpixel shared under CC0

A nomination requires some amount of work, to write, assemble an application etc. That’s why we appreciate so much the 173 people who took this step. But a selection process then narrows what comes out, much of what goes in to a typical awards program is filtered down (hence our small effort to at least name all nominated projects and people this year).

I would like to create some kind of process that would in someways create a process above this funnel that expands the field of recognition, rather than narrows. We are hoping to brainstorm, plan some kind of new, on going recognition that could happen, maybe every month, where the process to share is very low, and a way we can spread ongoing recognition through the year.

This could then maybe feed into the more formal awards program. Can we devise something that most creates an ongoing flow of regular, microrecogniton that is part of an awards program?

I hope the Board and our members can help us plan how to do this.

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Hi @Paola,

Thank you for this really thoughtful question and your already comprehensive list of ideas for recognising and rewarding OER adoption, this is so helpful. Also, thank you @cogdog for all the links to already existing forum posts on this!

I work as a Community Manager at the Bern University of Applied Sciences and my work is pretty much promoting OER adoption and identifying communities of practice in all of our seven departments. Last year, the University passed an OER policy, which recommends that all teachers use and produce OER. I’ve developed a three-part OER-training course which I started offering within our professional development program for teachers last year (where we go from use to remix to publish). About 20 of our 2000 teachers have done parts of this course so far.

This year, we’ve also integrated OER-related criteria into our teaching awards and funding programs. I am also, together with other people in my team, building up an openly licensed knowledge base for our teachers, where they find guides on ow to use and produce OER, including guides on improving their quality.

Last but not least, my university is working on building its own OER repository with MoodleNet (as Moodle is also our LMS). We’ve hired a System Engineer to do this, and to customize the repo accordingly - and obviously the goal for the repo is that it will interface with other repositories in the future.

When I read those paragraphs I just wrote, I truly think we are heading in a good direction, and I feel so fortunate to work with decision-makers who really support OER and who had the foresight to plan most of what I’ve outlined above before I even started my job 1.5 years ago

And yet. When I visit teachers in their departments and talk to them directly about how they might work with or use OER, they are hesitant to say the least. I’m often not sure if any of our measures are reaching them and encouraging them enough. There is still a lot of resistance and fear around OER, and much of that is of course also due to a lack of information about the subject.

So, your question I think, remains an important one - how do we best pair measures with their respective context for successful OER adoption? I really like @cogdog 's link to the lightning talk about Gratitude. It’s an often neglected factor in building community and, yes, joy :slight_smile:

Speaking of which: I don’t often post here but I am so, so grateful for this wonderful forum and this community! To know that people in so many different places are working towards Open Education for all is AMAZING.


Paola, recognition is indeed essential and surprisingly often absent from our open education work. Open education is usually a team effort so I think it’s important to recognize not just faculty efforts but all the other individuals that help make it happen. I love the list you’ve generated and @cogdog and @LenaTichy have added some other good ones. Here are a few observations from my side.

The most important forms of recognition are:

  • an ongoing budget line item for open education work
  • senior leadership support - a champion at the high level who advocates for open education
  • stated goals for open education that align to institutional mission and vision
  • benchmark and measures that show the impact of open education
  • specific policies that mention or address open education
  • dedicated staffing with job descriptions that explicitly describe open education roles and responsibilities
  • a recognition of the importance of collaboration within the institution and with other institutions

Thanks for all the work you, and the other Board members do, supporting OEGlobal.


Thanks, @cogdog, @LenaTichy and @paulstacey, for your thoughts, the resources linked in your replies, and the experiences quoted.

@cogdog, your image shows how we can easily narrow down through award programs instead of multiplying the visibility effect, something I never considered from this perspective. Thanks for opening my eyes. Microrecognition… I’d love to explore it further.

@LenaTichy, reading what is happening at Bern University of Applied Sciences is so interesting. Your institution’s actions cover many of the possibilities I tried to list. I agree: you are definitely heading in a good direction! Having an OER policy backs your work up to nudge more use and reuse of OER. I see the numbers you are sharing (teachers who are actively engaging - so far - with the provided learning opportunity). I understand the road is still long to change a culture, even with an OER policy in place. Providing funding opportunities based also on OER-related criteria seems promising, too. I’d love to know more from you while you progress.

@paulstacey I love your list, and I see how far it can lead OER creators and reusers, adapters, and remixers to progress. There are contexts where this is happening, and it works to continue growing in both the quality and quantity of relevant shared, open opportunities. It is still far to be seen in many other contexts, and those contexts are the ones I hold more closely. As the global OE Community, I’d love for us to collect more examples of what works (and what doesn’t, and discuss why!) and in which context and support practitioners who cannot count on these by sharing strategies, experiences and examples that work to ignite, bottom-up, the cultural change we need to progress in these directions.

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Dear Paola, thank you so much for this is one of my favorite subject. And first we need it all even more than this is not often done by institutions. As @cogdog mentioned, micro-credentials are one thing and I loved when badges were sent to all the OEG conference participants thanks to @marcela. In the Open Badges community, we call it “Open Recognition” : an excellent way to accompany gratitude and recognition of people. The president of the association Claire Heber Suffrin, who believes in the power of reciprocity, wrote that “la reconnaissance précède le savoir” : recognition comes before knowledge. I am sure we will work together on that in 2024!