4 People and Organizational Framework

The greatest investment colleges make in OER is around faculty and staff time. Typically, this reflects the reallocation of existing staff time to OER and away from other activities. Sustainability will require that campuses have these essential human resources in place to develop, manage, and grow their OER programs.

Campuses can plan for anticipated OER-related personnel resources by considering: 1) the organizational framework envisioned for OER activities; and 2) the faculty/staff necessary to grow and support the work. It is important to recognize that personnel requirements for a mature OER model may differ from requirements during the growth phase.

What will the OER organizational structure look like?

    • An OER Coordinator position that oversees and manages the work;
    • Leadership from a support unit, such as the library;
    • Embedding oversight into an existing academic center, such as a center for teaching and learning or distance learning/online education office;
    • Embedding the work into departments with a designated faculty member or OER committee/task force leading the work; or
    • A hybrid approach that incorporates more than one of the above approaches (or changes over time as the program matures)

Once the institution’s preferred organizational approach is selected, the necessary OER Champion faculty and staff can be identified to lead and manage the work.

OER Champions

OER Champions wear many different hats and can be, for instance, librarians, faculty instructional designers, bookstore staff, leadership, student advocates, etc. Below is a table including various roles across the college and their potential awareness, involvement and expertise within the college’s OER work.

Role OER involvement and expertise
College Leadership Can set the direction and pace for OER adoption and planning
Librarians Finding OER, licensing and attributions
Instructional Designers Finding OER, integrating OER into the college’s Learning Management System (e.g. Canvas), awareness of education technology issues
Information Technology Staff Help with OER technology support (e.g., Pressbooks), awareness of education technology issues
Faculty Finding OER, adopting and modifying OER to fit course needs, creating OER when needed, awareness of education technology issues
Academic Advisors Awareness of OER and courses that have these open resources, being able to discuss OER with students
Registrar Awareness of OER and courses that have these open resources, being able to share this information with students (e.g., course marking as ‘free’ or ‘zero textbook costs’)
Data reporting (e.g., Client Reporting) Understanding how to get the college’s OER adoption information to send via Client Reporting (e.g., OER Program Fee Code)
Bookstore Finding OER alternatives when copyright textbooks publish a new edition, helping students get access to their OER textbooks
Printing Services Providing print versions of OER materials for students at low cost
Students Awareness of OER, OER co-creation

What faculty and staff roles will be needed to grow and sustain OER on campus?

Beyond the OER organizational framework, college will also need to identify the support roles necessary to grow and sustain OER. Although much of this support is expected to come from existing faculty and staff, their time comes with real costs—existing work may need to be shifted to others (e.g., hiring an adjunct to compensate for course release time) or the work may no longer be performed (e.g., library reference desk hours are reduced to support OER activities).

Support staff. Plans to develop and implement the other infrastructure components (policies, processes, professional development and platforms) can help identify the staff roles required to support OER. This will likely include staff from: department administration, information technology, instructional development, library services, and institutional research (reporting). In some areas, anticipated growth of OER courses may prompt additional hiring rather than relying only on reallocation of staff time. For example, if existing capacity for instructional designers or library support is unable to meet OER-related demand, additional staff positions may be needed.

Library. Faculty may be reluctant to transition to OER because they are unfamiliar with available resources in their academic area, are unsure where to search for materials, or have concerns about quality. Connecting faculty with colleagues and librarians familiar with OER can address many of these concerns. Library directors may want to consider assigning library liaisons to specific departments, host regular OER office hours or OER workshops or supporting an “OER librarian” by reallocating a few hours of existing staff time to OER activities each week. Library support could improve efficiencies around course development by providing faculty with leads on course materials and assisting with copyright licensing.

Technology. Most colleges have instructional designers and/or information technology staff that can assist with OER course delivery. For example, they have the expertise to load course materials into the college’s learning management system and could also help faculty evaluate the technical differences between different OER courseware options (e.g., online course delivery software or homework software package).

Faculty. The organization structure to sustain OER will define the additional roles that faculty may assume, such as serving as formal OER mentors, fellows or committee/task force members. For faculty developing OER courses, there can be considerable variation around time requirements depending on whether they are adopting, adapting, or creating new OER materials; time may also be needed to create supplemental materials such as homework assignments and assessments.



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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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