Open Education Networks are vital to the Sustainability of OER :async:

Karen Cangialosi (OE Global|CCCOER), Rebecca Vasquez Ortiz (Santa Ana College), Carlos Goller (North Carolina State University)

The creation, development and integration of OER is currently uneven and variably distributed across the large number of higher education institutions globally. Connecting key stakeholders of open education initiatives (such as academic, community and government leaders, funding foundations/organizations, librarians, instructional designers, teachers, students, digital learning administrators, informational technologists, etc.) via robust and highly connected human networks is essential to the long-term sustainability of OER. The OE Global-CCCOER Regional Leaders of Open Education (RLOE) network serves as a model for the ways that networking can strongly support the creation and ongoing implementation of open education initiatives through building the leadership and relationships that are necessary for the long-term sustainability of OER.

RLOE brings together leaders from across North American institutional and regional boundaries that share ideas and resources and collaborate on building strategic plans for open education. Especially key to the sustainability of OER and open educational practices (OEP), RLOE builds strong partnerships with and continues to recruit leaders from state agencies, community organizations, and funding foundations. The RLOE network especially invests in supporting leadership that promotes anti-racism and social justice and highlights four main cornerstones: A) Policies, B) Professional Development Strategies, C) Stewardship Plans and D) Sustainability. Phase 2 of the RLOE network integrates these structural cornerstones as driving questions for systemic change in education into three main areas of focus for RLOE programming (Adoption of OER, Adaptation and Creation of OER, Open Educational Practices) shaped by these open education values: 1. Access and Equity; 2. Student Agency and the Rights of Learners; 3. Community and Collaboration; 4. Care and Generosity; 5. Social Justice, Diversity, Inclusion. Supporting network growth, developing tighter connections among smaller networks and empowering underrepresented voices to be leaders are among the recommendations that emerge from our work with the RLOE network.

Extended abstract: OE_Global_2021_paper_130.pdf 📄

Presentation Details

UNESCO OER Action Area: Sustainable OER
Format: Pre-recorded Presentation
Language: English


Pre-recorded presentations will be added below by the author(s). Watch them anytime during the conference.

Join or start the conversations with the author(s) by replying below with questions or comments, paying particular attention to the relationship to the OER Recommendation Action Areas. Please also share related resources.


RLOE Webpage

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These are the questions that we raised in our presentation. Please reply to any of them and engage in a dialog with us. All voices are important!

  1. How can open education be a key lever in the justice we seek in higher education?

  2. Who has agency within our organizations and is empowered to make change?

  3. How do we nurture a diverse range of leaders that can help drive agendas for open education that focus on underserved students?

  4. How do we empower future leaders and help them grow to take the next steps towards equity and justice confidently?

  5. How do we make sure our organizations center our historically underrepresented and underestimated communities in open education?

  6. What expertise needs to be connected for big challenges that face our projects and organizations?

  7. How do our leadership development programs assist leaders to adapt open practices within their own spaces in order to most effectively impact the underserved students in their particular institutions?

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There are still spaces in the January and May 2022 cohorts. Please see and share the invitation and linked application form:

RLOE Invitation to Participate

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Thank you for leading this discussion space, as well as your overall leadership in the RLOE movement. This is exactly the kind of space I was hoping to find as I was developing my own OER story, and I’m so glad to participate as a Collaborator.

I’d like to address question 4:

  1. How do we empower future leaders and help them grow to take the next steps towards equity and justice confidently?

I think a large service we can provide is simply holding the mirror up, and help others to see themselves as leaders in this space. So many of us get caught up in our day-to-day actions. What may appear radical and hugely impactful to outside observers feels like “this is just what I need to do to be an effective educator” to us while we’re inside it.

RLOE and other similar groups can help add that external recognition, both to leaders themselves and to the actions they take. We can also provide a very visible pathway forward, once someone realizes that they do hold a leadership stake in open education at their institution. It’s difficult for adjuncts or students to be aware of their own leadership potential, for instance, since most institutions are so traditionally hierarchical. We can help provide that validation, both so that they recognize themselves as shaping this space, and so that others in their institutions come to see them in this way as well.


Alexis - thank you so much for your comments! I agree that anyone can be a leader and that we need to take care to help nurture that leadership. I also feel as if the leadership potential of many faculty, staff, students can hit a wall if there isn’t greater institutional support. Wonderful open education initiatives can be stalled by administrators that haven’t taken the time to understand its full value. The hierarchal nature of our institutions is often inhibiting to real structural change. How much of the empowerment involves addressing those external issues?


Institutional support is so important when starting an OER program. RLOE is a program that will assist leaders in the organizational details. Every good leader needs a plan to make things run smoothly.


Alexis, this is such an important point about “holding a mirror up”. With historical structures in place, marginalized educators have not always received the institutional support to assume their leadership roles. Open Education work should center on meeting others where they are so inclusive leadership can be cultivated.

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While no one person has to be an expert at everything, it is important to have expertise at the institutional level (how does the institution function, where are its equity gaps), expertise of OER and OEP, expertise regarding strategic planning and implementation (that fit the issues- my plan won’t look like your plan), and expertise at being patient and persistent (open is hard work).

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So excited to see this next phase of the Regional Leaders of Open Education (RLOE) led by @karencang and her amazing advisory team launch this fall. Their energy and passion for nurturing and empowering underrepresented voices to become open education leaders through the RLOE network and collaboration with other networks focused on this work is an excellent example of the UNESCO OER Recommendation #4 on creating sustainability models for OER. Cannot wait to see the plans from the first cohort as they engage in this important and strategic work.