The Open Educational Resources (OER) environmental scan conducted for SPARC Open Education Leadership Program 2020-2021 cohort was a great learning exploration. I had the opportunity to put together a survey instrument, plan the project and reach out to students and faculty to assess their understanding of OER. The entire project was an opportunity to examine where some of the UCSB faculty and students stand regarding OER. According to the OER Consortium as cited by SPARC:

Open education resonates deeply with educators (whether instructional or non-instructional staff) who have a passion for teaching or have dedicated their lives to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge. Making the case for open education is often a matter of tapping into this passion and inviting education professionals to join in a growing, world-wide movement to improve education (OER Consortium, n.d.).

The two environmental scan surveys conducted at the UCSB highlighted that the majority of faculty and students who responded to the surveys are not familiar with OER. However, the faculty respondents are willing to learn more about OER. The students are also open to the idea of having OER as an option for their learning resources. Some of the students shared how textbooks add to their financial burden in college. According to SPARC:

Students benefit from the lower cost of open education resources and practices. Where open educational practices are used, a richer learning experience is possible. In situations where students are entering a formal learning context for the first time, open education can help informal learners to build up confidence about formal education and support their transition into academic institutions” (SPARC, 2018).

Educational institutions that are open to OER, have Open Education policies and follow open pedagogical practices are not only innovative but are attractive to parents and future students. Thus, these institutions can be very competitive when it comes to recruiting future students. SPARC comments on how students, “Seeing the content used for teaching and learning in universities can help people realize that higher education may not be too big a step for them.” Thus, committing to OER and open education is one way for UCSB to make itself even more competitive in attracting students who are the future leaders and productive members of our society.

The UCSB Library plays a central role in helping and supporting UCSB faculty to adopt OER. This capstone project lists ten recommendations for the UCSB Library to look into as a way to support OER initiatives by UCSB faculty. The recommendations are informed by the data obtained from the two surveys conducted for this capstone project.

The entire capstone project gave me the opportunity to learn some lessons on why effective communication is crucial especially when working with stakeholders like faculty. The survey and the call for survey have to be crafted strategically to attract potential respondents. Communication is also vital in gaining support from allies and in building lasting relationships as one works towards successful OER initiatives. Advocating the use of OER and open education takes a lot of patience, time commitment and perseverance. One can only succeed through alliances, strategic communication and endurance. The push for OER needs composure, and finding one ally at a time is a great accomplishment. Above all, one is not alone in this journey. There are a lot of resources, support and networks to help strategizing the advocacy.


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