11 Communication

Establishing an OER communication plan is a critical part of sustainability planning for colleges. Communication plans should reflect the needs of diverse audiences including students, faculty and staff, and academic leaders.

Faculty. At most colleges, early OER communication activities are organized around faculty recruitment. But those same OER workshops and various meeting presentations initially used to educate colleagues also provide opportunities to share OER’s successes and challenges. Similarly, OER taskforce or committee members and instructors can organically share OER’s growth with colleagues and identify barriers to sustainability. More formal methods of communication including blogs or short updates in newsletters or department bulletins offer easy options to maintain visibility. But to sustain OER, messaging will need to extend beyond faculty to include students, as well as college and university leaders.

Students. Students can be effective ambassadors for OER, but many aren’t exposed to these opportunities unless they inadvertently enroll in an OER section. Oftentimes students learn they’re in an OER course on the first day of class. Adding an OER course identification flag to course catalogues and class schedules is helpful for students knowledgeable about OER, but it’s an indirect enrollment strategy that may not be the most effective method for informing students about lower-cost course options.

Students need candid information about no-cost or low-cost educational opportunities. Student advisors should receive information about OER so they can educate students about those course options. Student campaigns can also directly educate students about OER courses. Some colleges host student campaigns during the annual OpenEd week organized by the Open Education Consortium. Activities may include campus posters, student and faculty panels, social media blasts, t-shirt campaigns, and booths informing students about textbook alternatives. Student organizations engaged around OER also are effective advocates on campus and/or at the state and System levels. See the Student PIRG OER ‘Make Textbooks Affordable‘ campaign.

The WTCS Wisconsin Student Government (WSG) has included funding for OER in their 2019 and 2020 Legislative Seminar Position Papers. They are asking the Wisconsin legislature to invest $200,000 per year for the creation of open textbooks across the WTCS.

College Leaders. Educating college leaders about OER and its impacts on student affordability and learning can secure the foundation for a sustainable OER program. Metrics and student impacts that are combined to craft compelling evidence can provide leaders with the information needed to provide ongoing support for nascent OER efforts. OER also provides leaders with an opportunity to show students who are raising concerns about textbook prices that they are actively addressing those concerns.


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WTCS OER Field Guide for Sustainability Planning Copyright © by WTCS OER Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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