Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript. For those interested in reading the conversation that took place among participants and the resources shared, the chat transcript is also available below.
Office Hours: How to Engage Leadership in OER
- Teri O. Gallaway, Executive Director and Associate Commissioner, Louisiana Library Network (LOUIS)
- Josh Bolick, Scholarly Communication Librarian, University of Kansas
- Carrie Gits, Head Librarian/Associate Professor, Highland Campus Library, Austin Community College
- Karen Lauritsen, Open Education Network
- Apurva Ashok, Rebus Community
Apurva: Welcome, everyone, to another Office Hours and happy new year. I know it’s the end of January, but it’s our first Office Hours session of the new year, a new year of programming and we’re really excited to kick it off with an excellent topic today that we’re hoping to continue into February. For those of you who don’t know, my name is Apurva Ashok, I work at the Rebus Community, which is a Canadian charity that offers programs and resources to support open publishing efforts around the world.
I’m joined today by Karen Lauritsen and Barb Thees from the Open Education Network, so Karen, I’ll turn it over to you to introduce yourself.
Karen: Thanks, Apurva and hello, everybody, it’s wonderful to see familiar faces and welcome new faces. Office Hours is mostly monthly, and for those of you who may be attending for the first time we will hear from three guests, and they’ll talk for a handful of minutes and then we will look to you for your questions and experiences in the chat and unmuted with your voices to join us in conversation.
So, the Open Education Network, where Barb and I work, is a community of professionals who want to make higher education more open. And do so by supporting one another and sharing resources and professional development. So, today we are talking about engaging leadership in OER. And we are joined by three guests in addition to everyone else. The first guest I will introduce or share information about is Teri Gallaway.
She’s executive director and associate commissioner for the Louisiana Library Network, also known as LOUIS. There’s also Josh Bolick, scholarly communication librarian at the University of Kansas. And Carrie Gits, who is head librarian and associate professor at Highland Campus Library at Austin Community College. We’ll hear from these three, and then have a conversation about how we engage leadership in OER. So, to kick things off, I will turn things over to Josh.
Josh: Thanks, Karen, hi, everyone. I’m happy to be here, the OEN in particular has been a home organization for me, in fact, I’m wearing my old school Open Textbook Network hoodie. I think the first edition of those that’s probably four years or so old now, starting to get a little worn. So, if the OEN were to issue new ones, I would happily pay for one, Karen. So, this has been a challenging thing for me to think about recently.
Because when Barb contacted me in December and asked me if I was willing to do this, I said of course, but my experience has been in some ways I think so unique and institutionally informed that I wondered honestly if I have anything useful to share. And I almost declined for that reason but then, we talked.
And I said, “Well, if I can just be transparent about that, as part of the way that I think about communicating with administrators and leaders at my institution and above at different levels, then I’m happy to do that.” So, we all work in different unique contexts, we work in different institutions that have unique combinations of people and leaders. There’s a revolving door of administrators, it seems at many places.
I’ve been at KU for five and a half years, and I’m in my fifth provost, if I include interims. And I think within two years of being here, there wasn’t a single upper level administrator who was at KU when I started in August of 2015. And so, every one of those people and the vacuum that happens when one of them leaves changes the environment, and they all have different things that they express that are important to them, different concerns.
There’s a ton of volatility, especially this past year. But we’ve all been living through an extended period of volatility in a variety of ways. And that brings a lot of complexity, the most recent volatility that we are living through in Kansas and maybe particularly at the University of Kansas but I know this is happening at a different level in our neighbors slightly north in Iowa is that last week the Kansas board of regents announced that they were temporarily suspending tenure for two years.
And that has created an enormous amount of fear and anxiety and concern for the faculty and staff at this organization, throughout the state, the wellbeing of the town that we live in, what it means for higher education more broadly, what it means for institutional health and so on. And so, that’s complexity in and of itself, especially where I’m talking about communicating with administrators, right?
So, there’s a ton of serendipity. So, what I thought might be useful was to think about how to capture and harness that serendipity when it strikes. And the components of that for me have been having the foundation of a broad network across my institution, seeking to develop relationships with instructors, with students, with administrators, with other units, beyond the libraries that provide instructional support with the bookstore and so on.
To be ready with data, both locally generated as well as what we know based on the research, particularly peer reviewed research and reports that are useful. And then, to recognize that administrators, like every other stakeholder that we work with and communicate with, have a shared language. They’re not all the same, but there’s some concerns that they tend to share.
They use words like student success, enrolment, retention, affordability, and so on. And so, I don’t mean this cynically at all, we always adjust according to the group of folks that we’re talking to, to speak to their concerns. But I have found it useful to speak their language back to them. If they say, “We care about student success.” Then, I say, “Here’s the evidence that supports the efficacy of OER in achieving and supporting student success.”
So, that’s quick summary, introduction to what I was hoping to say, and I’m interested in hearing your questions and learning from everyone on the call.
Karen: Thanks, Josh. And Carrie, you’re up next.
Carrie: Thank you, Karen, and it’s great to be here and I really look forward to the conversation. I thought I would start off just with a little bit of context to share about my role at ACC, primarily as a head librarian, that is my primary role. The library services department, we are part of the teaching and learning excellence division, so that’s the TLED division. And all of the librarians and head librarians are faculty.
So, I think that strikes an important balance when we develop relations surrounding OER. However, I have no official title or designated title related to OER. OER doesn’t live in one department at ACC. So, we have lots of people across the college that are participating and supporting it and I am one of those members. But I think as my role has evolved over the years and my participation, I really see myself as someone who is supporting and leading the efforts without that designated title.
We are a large community college in central Texas, 11 campuses, over 70,000 students. So, that poses a challenge in and of itself. We do have upper administration that is very supportive of open educational resources, including our provost, who is also a faculty member and has taught with OER. We have an associate vice president who manages the data and liaison with the department chairs to encourage and roll out open educational resources and track all of that and making sure the course schedule is up to date.
As Josh said, the language is really important, and I think what I’ve seen over the years, especially the provost really looking and strategically looking for opportunities to align the benefits of OER with our academic master plan and our strategic plan goals. And over the last couple of years, as we’ve rolled out our strategic plan goals college wide looking at student success equity gaps, closing those equity gaps.
Equity, diversity and inclusion, and looking at where OER fits into that and affordable course materials and student success. So, as I’ve become more involved, I fell into OER when I said yes to my dean in 2016. The college was participating in achieving the OER dream initiative grant. And they were looking for a library representative. I was engaged with other textbook affordability conversations and work at the college.
So, I said I was interested, didn’t know a lot about OER, didn’t know quite what I was getting myself into. But as a result of that, I became more engaged with the faculty and with administration and that really led to I would say some casual relationships about OER with administration because I don’t have that official role. But it also led the provost and others to see the library and the librarians as leaders in this.
And the provost supported my participation in the SPARC open education leadership program by funding it and giving me the release time to participate. I developed training modules as part of my Capstone project that became professional development requirement for faculty engaged in stipend programs. And that built and was expanded statewide, those modules, more adopted by the Digitex, so digital higher education consortium of Texas.
And so, as the library and myself have become more involved, I sometimes see myself as the squeaky wheel, I see myself as an advocate, as a champion, as someone who’s ready and willing to share resources and information. But I also recognize my position in that I don’t necessarily have the decision making authority, but I still try to bring issues and conversations up whenever I can.
And I sometimes get emails forwarded from the provost to say, “Hey can we work on this?” And one of those things was recently he asked the library to be responsible for rolling out the new Texas just launched a statewide repository OER Tex in September. And he really wanted to have the college have an institutional hub. So, he asked the library to participate in that and administer it.
So, I see the importance of keeping a conversation going and using some of that important language, but also being comfortable to share information up when I have the opportunity and to align that information with again those strategic plans and the academic master plan as Josh had said. But I think one of the unique challenges that I do have is that OER has become the responsibility of many, and there’s benefits and challenges to that at ACC.
Karen: Thank you, Carrie. Teri.
Teri: Thanks for having me here today. So, Teri Gallaway, I’m here from LOUIS, as Karen mentioned. And we are an academic library consortium. There are 47 very diverse institutions within our group and as Josh has said prior, I too questioned what do I have to share with you that you don’t know already intuitively. And I think I’ll probably echo a lot of what Carrie and Josh already said as well.
So, like Josh, I’ve been through six different direct supervisors in three and a half years. And it’s incredibly challenging to be reporting to different leadership but also it keeps you on your toes. And the three I wrote down that I think have led to my success and our organization’s success are being prepared, being brave and always be listening. And I think Carrie and Josh stated those same things as well.
So, by being prepared, ensuring that you know the language, as Carrie and Josh said, the words that are being used and how you can echo those words back in your data. Being prepared and having real examples of the emotional impact of what you’re doing on the community. Planning that’s something that I’ve learned, is that though I might not have the money or the resources to implement something, I need to have a plan already on paper when the opportunity arises.
And I’ve had that happen to me in the last five years several times, where the question is, “Teri, what can you do with $500,000?” And in 24 hours trying to demonstrate what I can do with that. So, as leaders have changed, like I said, six different leaders you start to refine and understand how to communicate to different people. Being prepared also for me has meant understanding if I was competitive, and I mean that in the friendliest of ways.
But is my organization or my affordable learning plan competitive with what others are doing? And knowing where I am in line with other states’ policies and objectives because the question always is, “Well, what’s Texas doing about this?” And so, I need to know what Texas is doing, I need to know what Georgia’s doing. And then, another example of being prepared and I learned this actually the first time I got called in the state to testify before the state legislature.
I was listening to somebody else testify, and one of the senators on the committee got really frustrated and said, “I understand what you’re saying, but you’re not painting a picture of what success will look like at the end if I support your program.” So, making sure that you are able to bring data, but also painting a picture, being prepared to paint the picture of what success looks like.
Being brave, that’s the knocking on doors, the being able to sell it, the elevator pitch. Feeling confident to just pick up the phone and call people, understanding that everyone’s just a person, and they like to be asked for help. One of the first phone calls I made when I got handed this initiative was to Geoff in Georgia. Called out to California, just cold calling and developing relationships and just being brave and pitching what you have.
Being prepared goes into that a lot. And then, be listening. We made an early decision to tie just about everything that we do back to the statewide course articulation matrix because we were listening. And that was an important way to connect all the institutions in our state, so our repository, we decided to use that framework there.
We decided to use that course matrix framework for our grant program because that was a good connector and we learned that through sitting in lots of meetings. We learned that dual enrolment was a legislative priority and probably funding was coming along with that by listening. Diversity, equity and inclusion was something we learned was important, by listening what’s going on across the state on the campuses. And so, I guess that’s it in a nutshell is be listening, be prepared, be brave.
Karen: Thank you, Teri. And thanks to Carrie and Josh as well. So, we’ve heard from our three guests about different ideas for how you can engage with leadership in OER. I now invite you to share your questions, maybe you’ve been trying some of these techniques and struggling. Feel free to share your scenarios with all of us, and maybe you have some further examples that as you were listening thought of from you own institution or your own experience.
Please also feel free to share those in the chat. So, now is the time to prepare your questions. Go ahead and drop them in or unmute. In the meantime, I will launch us with one. So, I think all of you talked about language and using the language of leadership and finding an inroad, and here’s how we can help you reach those strategic goals. Have you partnered with communications teams?
Do you have that kind of support within your organization? Or do you have any tips and tricks for finding ways to effectively communicate and connect those things? A question for any of you, or all of you.
Josh: I can jump in. So, one of the contextual things that is lucky and I don’t know how unique it is, but KU libraries has long had a really fantastic office of communication and advancement is the name of the organization. I work in the office of scholarly communication and copyright, there are various other units within the libraries, and one of them is the office of communication and advancement.
And communication being communication out across campus, press releases, social media management, those kinds of things. And advancement being fund raising and working with the foundation to pursue those fundraising opportunities. They’re amazing and have been great partners along the way. If you attended the OEN summit last summer, I co-presented with one of them on our textbook heroes initiative, which we didn’t invent.
But we implemented in a particular way, given institutional opportunities and skills that we have in house. And one of them is that my colleague, Leanne, who works in that office happens to also be an amazing photographer. And so, she takes beautiful portraits and makes everyone look more attractive than we are, like her pictures are great. And so, they’ve just worked.
Another colleague in that office, Leah Hallstrom, similarly has helped with social media promotion and that sort of thing at the university level. So, that’s an opportunity that not everyone has, if you don’t have colleagues like that or an office like that within your organization. At higher levels, we implemented a course marking project this Fall for the spring enrolment period and communicating around that was really challenging.
Because it wasn’t a library effort, it wasn’t any individual. Like that was a team of 12 to 15 people that worked together over the course of the last year plus to get it done. And once we were ready to roll it out, it didn’t feel like any of our individual units was the right place to communicate around it. And there’s so many things at an institutional level to communicate around right now, that it was just struggling to get into the mix.
And what finally worked was reaching out to one of our key supporters on the project, the chief information officer, and I said, “We can’t go further, unless someone is going to issue campus wide communication to all students and all instructors.” And she was able to pull the strings that connected me to a communicator at the institutional level and that led to that communication.
So, I was trying different strategies and kept running up against that’s not really within our communication role and ultimately had to pull levers for people with more power than me. If this is an institutional effort, then the institution needs to figure out how to communicate it. The team has done the work that it can do to get to this point, but there is no email address that I can send an email to to communicate.
And we can’t implement it if people don’t have some heads up about what’s going on. So, I guess the thing to draw from that is that sometimes tapping on the right person’s shoulder and saying, “I’m at a block. I can’t do more without someone at your level pulling some strings.” And that did work.
Apurva: Teri, Carrie any experience on your end?
Carrie: I would just add we have within the teaching and learning excellence division, we have a communication officer. And so, usually when we need to get word out to all faculty, we go through her office and work on communication out. I’ve had the funny or unique experience recently where I said because of the relationship and the work we’ve had, the provost has been involved with OER since 2016, and I’ve been on teams with him over the years.
He will email me and the associate vice president of academic programs and he’ll say, “Hey can you write something up for the board meeting so the president can talk about the repository or OER initiatives?” And so, we’ll start writing something up, or I’ll offer to write it up, and then it gets wordsmith by the president’s communications director, whatever. But at least I have the foundation and the wording there and then they can take it.
So, I’ve had that happen to me a couple of times this year, where it’s a unique challenge in that the request might come directly to me, but as I said, I’m not necessarily the person, the main communicator or the OER person at the college. So, I’m careful to give them the right information and then have the appropriate person put it in the words of the president or the provost. So, that’s been an interesting opportunity, too.
Teri: Same experience for me too is just being comfortable preparing leadership. Sometimes you’re the one at the podium, sometimes you need to make sure the talking points are ready for somebody else to go the podium so to speak. But just in terms of basic tools, we have had great success with just Canva plus Twitter. We have a great communications person, but at the end of the day, Canva plus Twitter is really the secret to getting things out there.
We understood from an early point that the people whose attention we wanted to get were on Twitter. We wanted the commissioner to be retweeting us, because she had the audience and so that has worked out great for us.
Apurva: Thanks, Teri and Cheryl also has a tip in the chat for those of you who are trying to hone in on some of that new language that administrators use. So, Cheryl suggests looking at the campus strategic plan, looking at a mission and values statement and trying to pull in some of the language from those documents into your own communications or using that to frame communications.
And something that I noticed that all three of you mentioned was at the same time as so much of your work with engaging leaders is building some of those relationships. I think all three of you mentioned that you have to work with so many different stakeholders, or as Josh put it, there’s a revolving door of administrators that you need to reach out to. Teri, you mentioned six different supervisors in three and a half years, which is unthinkable.
And you have to build relationships with each one of them. And so, Amanda asks in the chat, she wonders if you can share some strategies for reconnecting with leadership when you’re working in such a changing environment. How do you keep your programs moving forward with this much institutional change? And any of you could go first.
Josh: I’ll go again. So, about halfway through, I think when the third provost left, after the longest period of the provosts I’ve had, which is still less than two years, I reconsidered my strategy. Up to that point, it had been especially with that provost she spent the first six months going round to different audiences on campus and saying, “These are my priorities.” And I looked at those priorities and said, “How do I tell my story or our story in the context of those stated priorities?”
And there was some progress made, some campus wide communication, a taskforce created and charged, so there was definitely movement that that provost was helpful with. But there was also a lot of remaking myself, or ourselves to be aligned with it. And once that provost was gone, then there was an interim provost for a long period of time. And now, a new provost.
I can’t remake myself and what we’re doing every time there’s a new leader with new priorities. And so, rather than specifically setting up future success on who that leader is, I’ve been more focused on across. Rather than looking up, to look across and down, not in a hierarchical sense, but just that if all of the people that are engaged and that includes students and staff and faculty and different departments and in different offices.
If we create a culture, I like Sara Goldrick-Rab’s framing of creating an institutional culture of care, in which open education is a component of it, then administrators that come and go have no choice but to recognize that and align themselves with it. And I think that that’s a better orientation rather than an entire structure that was in place before an administrator comes and will be in place after an administrator leaves, reconfiguring itself to align with them.
I would encourage us all to build excellence and impactful programming and put them in a position to either support it in the ways that they can or be in a position of not supporting something that is excellent and impactful and benefits students and instructors. That’s a flip in some ways of the power, and I get it’s complicated and it’s not doable everywhere. And you’ll succeed or fail at different levels and I don’t know to what extent we have done that at KU successfully.
There’s been a lot of success, but again, there’s so much serendipity and there’s so much, it’s hard to put your finger on a thing and say, “This is the thing that we did that enabled an administrator to support in particular ways.” But I will be here after this administration and the one after that and the one after that have come and gone. And I’m just not reconfiguring what we do for every single one of them.
Teri: So, I liked what Jessica mentioned about the documentation that can be endorsed by management. So, certainly we had a statewide plan that was consistent and I think in place for about five of the six people that I was reporting to. But I don’t think that’s enough, because sometimes people don’t have time to read or discredit plans that were written that don’t have their stamp or their signature on them.
So, there’s got to be a place and an invitation for people to come in and feel like they can own it with you. But at the end of the day, the work has to be compelling and it shouldn’t hang on the connection between you and just that one other person. Ideally, there’s a community of leadership that is aware of what you’re doing and why it’s important, so that it’s not just on you to educate that one person.
That when somebody new comes in, there’s an opportunity for them to take it to the next step and so providing ways to quickly educate new leadership about what’s happened and what’s happening. But leaving opportunities for them to shine some new spotlight on your work. And hopefully it’s a compelling opportunity for them to do that.
Karen: To stay in this communication vein, Josh alluded to the tumultuous year and living in a pandemic and moving things online and how much work has been involved with that. Have any of you or anyone in this call been able to seize the opportunity to say, “Here’s how OER can fit in in this current environment. Here’s how it’s valuable.” Or has it been too difficult to get a word in edgewise with all of the other pressures that higher ed is under?
Josh: I think for me, it’s been both and. Like in some cases, there’s been just bigger fires burning that detract from attention. And the course marking project is a good example. Ideally, I would have been communicating, we were ready as a working group to communicate around that at the end of the spring semester last year as summer was starting.
But trying to get into instructors’ ears at that point, given the upheaval that they had experienced and the racial turmoil in Minneapolis due to the murder of George Floyd and there were just huge challenges that it didn’t feel like the right time to do that. And then, when we were able to start, as I was able to start having those conversations late in the summer and as the Fall semester was starting, I was able to talk about the importance of providing affordability information related to the courses that students were registering for.
That the arguments that supported that pre-existed the ways our lives changed in March, but they were more important given the ways that our lives have changed, especially for students, especially for lower income students. And that now we had more reasons than we previously did. So, yeah, I think at points it was hard to get it in and at other points it has worked to say it.
The arguments in support for open education we all know pre-exist Covid, and Covid exacerbates the underlying problems that open education addresses. Some of them at least. And so, I have been saying, “Here’s a bunch of data that was all true up until March, and boy howdy is it relevant now.”
Carrie: With my experience, I’ve really leaned into some of the great communication that’s come out from peer libraries and other libraries about the value of moving to OER in the pandemic. And as Josh pointed out, the value even before all of us going remote and virtual. But there’s some great messaging out there, and we work to inform faculty of all of that. I also very early on I think it was maybe back in April, so it was very fresh our experience.
We have these sessions called Remote Recess and we encourage faculty to show up, and I did a session about the challenges. We have an active textbook collection physically in our libraries and so the challenges of students and faculty and us not being able to get to those resources anymore. And so, really put it into the real situation that our students were facing at ACC and tried to promote the messaging that way and how this was a long term solution.
Interestingly, I think we have seen last year, when we were in person, we were very active and I say we, the library, doing one on one consultations with faculty. We still offer those, but they’ve significantly dropped, I don’t know if that’s because last year they were tied to some other professional development and stipends. But they’re still happening and people are still reaching out to us and our librarians are still meeting and we’re still messaging.
But it has been a challenge, I think everyone is inundated with information and one more webinar, or one more learning opportunity. But I also had someone say to me the other day and I haven’t quite figured out how to interpret this message, if it’s something to be I guess proud of or confused on. But in a faculty senate someone was trying to maybe put a motion of OER on the agenda.
And the overall response was, “Well, OER is here, we’re doing it, what else do we need to say about it?” And I’m not really sure how to respond to that, again, that was within the faculty context, not in an administrative context. So, I think the messaging and the information is persistent, it’s a constant, it’s something we always need to do. But it is a challenge to get it out there regardless of the situation we’re in.
Teri: Yeah, same here, and Josh, we had the same experience with our course marking legislation, which was to take effect this past Fall, a couple of pieces of it and so, we have started that. But I would say where we had intended to be more aggressive about getting that into place, just recognizing the tremendous pressure that the campuses were under to make this huge pivot to high flex, hybrid or full online learning.
That we were certainly way more sensitive in the pace at which we required across the state the course marking to happen. And to an even larger extent our new legislation requiring data sharing from the bookstores to the border regions, as another piece of monitoring about price impact and the depth of OER activity that we have in the state. On the other hand, the opportunities I was invited to sit on a statewide digital inclusion taskforce.
And that becomes another place, as you all have both mentioned, the issues of access to resources were already there. This is just a new taskforce and a new opportunity to shine light on work that we’re doing and talk about how OER is a piece of the equation for digital inclusion.
Apurva: Thanks, Teri. And I think what I’m seeing people note in the chat is that idea of Josh, as you mentioned, creating that institutional culture of care. And I’m curious, and Carrie, I think you’re in a position where you mentioned a lot of the OER work is widespread, it’s not just with you. But it’s spread across departments and other areas.
So I’m wondering who would you say are some of your key allies as you’re trying to put together messaging that is frequent and consistent or plans that are ready to go out and be funded at short notice? Who would you suggest people who are listening in on the chat go and reach out to, if they’re not already? And I know there’s another question from Cheryl in the chat. So, we can get to this one and then move on to hers.
Carrie: I would say working with your student affairs or overseeing the staff who work in the learning labs or tutoring areas, they’ve all gone virtual. Our academic advisors. One of the areas the library works very closely with and we have had a long relationship with them on our textbook program is our student support center. And they oversee a lot of textbook assistance for students as well as childcare needs and meal programs, all sorts of things.
And they have been a very strong ally for us in promoting some of the opportunities that are there outside of student affairs or the student facing services. Your instructional designers, we have a very close relationship because the library as I mentioned, being under TLED we are all under that same umbrella with the instructional designers and some of the other staff who does the course marking and the curriculum development. And the bookstore as well, I think that’s an important conversation and relationship to have.
Josh: I’ll chime in to say to many people’s surprise at my institution, the bookstore has been an incredible ally. Super supportive, they show up, have been showing up for years to all of our events. We’re in the fortunate position of having an independent bookstore, so it’s not contracted out. It’s a non-profit mission driven organization it’s part of the unions, which are not formally KU.
It’s like an alliance, sort of like athletics is also like this, the foundation is also like this. But they’ve been great to work with, and what was a surprise to me, I think the solidification of that relationship was attending the textbook affordability conference together in 2017. And that was eye opening for me, because they expressed as much frustration with the practices within the textbook industry that we object to as we have.
And I was like, “Wait, those are my lines.” And it helped me understand the position that they’re in. Textbooks aren’t a 20% mark-up that’s not normal retail, it’s not how they fund their operations. They really make their money on hoodies and key chains and drinkware and so on. And they see their role as regards to course materials as helping instructors and students to navigate that landscape.
And when they have a student come in, who says, “I need my book for this class.” And they don’t have any information about that class because the instructor hasn’t provided it, that creates confusion and they’re not able to meet that student’s needs. Whereas if the student comes in and says, “I need my materials for this class.” And they look it up and say, “Great news, that’s an OpenStax material, you can buy a copy new or used at an affordable price.
Or it’s available online for free.” Then, the student, they have the information they need to make the choice that’s right for them and in the meantime, they might buy a t-shirt or whatever. So, the bookstore’s been really an excellent advocate, and the bookstore is also a super easy scapegoat. Students spend a lot of money there, don’t get a lot back if they go to return the books and that makes them angry at the bookstore.
Instructors often aren’t reporting materials because they think that the bookstore is profiteering on students, but the bookstores don’t select the materials, and the bookstores don’t mark them up that much. And so, the bookstore is squeezed in between these two factions and it’s just easy to hate on the bookstore. And I’m always trying to complicate people’s understanding of that. And in many cases, to say that the bookstore has been a better ally to affordability efforts than people who claim to care about affordability.
Karen: Okay, so we have about 10 minutes left, so if there are any burning questions that some of you are sitting on, now is the time to bring them forth to this friendly crowd, who would be happy to offer some ideas. I will ask a question in the meantime, and that is related to data. I think all of you mentioned the importance of data.
And so I’m wondering in your assessment how did you decide to use data to show the impact your programs are having and think about leadership and how you’re going to communicate this impact to them? Can you please talk a little bit about your data plans?
Teri: Well, we’re making a pivot here in the next couple of years on our data. Emily’s in the room, she’s primarily in charge of collecting the data right now, which is really difficult on a statewide level to track down our investments to tie them back to programming that we’ve done, to keep track of individual faculty decisions, and because we’re removed from the campus, we’re getting data second- and thirdhand.
We were getting some data from OpenStax that was really helpful about faculty inquiry, but it was data that was difficult to vet and confirm. We have data from Open Education Network, again, about faculty contacts that we’ve had and decisions that they’re making down the road. So, the legislation that we put in place that is to go live is to help us pivot from chasing down faculty, and asking them what they’re doing and are they still doing those things?
To having it fed to us from the student accountability or the student outcome system. And this will help us look more closely at issues of is this actually helping students that are having success issues perform any better? How is one section of an OER class comparing to a non-OER section class? So, it took us four or five years to gather the data that we had piecemeal from across the state.
And really looking forward to that pivot to being a recipient, rather than banging on doors. But we know it’ll never going to be a complete picture, because it relies upon individuals to report. However, it’s coming to us in a more centralized manner, and it’s tied directly to student level outcomes, so we’ll be able to do more with it.
Josh: Data is challenging, yeah, it’s hard and I don’t have a magic bullet there. With our grant program, it is fairly easy to track it and report over time. I mean, I can look at enrolment, I know what courses those are, I can look at enrolments, I know how frequently the courses are taught. That gives me a fairly accurate number for the number of students impacted by those grant funded adoptions, adaptations and creations in a given year.
And as long as I continue to know that those projects are being used year after year, it’s easy to report that as an estimate and I’m very clear always that this is an estimate. And that people understand that and how we come at those numbers. But the initiatives are much broader than grant funded initiatives, right? And there’s lots of adoption that we learn about fairly regularly that we don’t have any hand in at all, at least in direct support.
I don’t know if they attended a workshop at some point or where they’re hearing about it. So, capturing the overall use at my single institution is complicated and ultimately, probably definitively not possible, like an accurate complete picture. But I try to report on what I know, hopefully the course marking project will help. That’s not about OER, it’s no cost and low cost. But it provides a list of folks who claim they’re using no cost things and I might be able to follow up with that. But data is challenging.
Carrie: Yeah, I would echo both of those things that Josh and Teri have said. When we started at ACC with the achieving the dream grant, there were certain data points and ways we needed to collect the data based on that. And we were also research partners with the grant and SRI. So, we were able to have a good framework in the beginning of how data was collected and what they were asking and able to continue that.
But as that shifted and we moved to participating in the OpenStax program, they were asking for different things in a slightly different way, so we had to adjust. Texas does have the state legislative bill which requires the course marking. That’s still a very manual process and I mentioned that is something that our associate vice president and her office does. But it is very manual, very challenging.
We also do have the combined label of OER, zero textbook costs, so I know when we are participating in OpenStax we were only asked to track the OER adoption, not the zero textbook costs. So, our numbers were varying, so it is a challenge with who you’re reporting it to, how they’re asking for it. And we have been able to survey students over the last couple of semesters enrolled in OER sections and get some data from that.
And that was based on one of the initial surveys that we were given during our participation in achieving the dream grant. So, it continues to evolve, but getting different offices involved, our office of institutional effectiveness and advancement has been able to pull some of that data based on enrolment and looking at the withdrawal rates and the grades. And so, that has been very helpful, but it’s constantly evolving.
Josh: I wonder if a strategy here is to collect the data that you feasibly can, based on your existing resources platform’s methods. And when someone expresses a desire for a different kind of data or more data than those strategies can provide, to have a list ready or some ideas ready to say, “These are the barriers to me being able to provide that data. But if you want from an administrative level to address these barriers, then that’s the path forward to being able to get that data.”
I saw that sort of happen with the course marking project where some folks said, “That’s a neat idea that other places are doing that. But these offices that would be integral to it currently aren’t going to on their own throw themselves at it.” And I said, “Well, maybe someone at a higher level can reorient their priorities for them.” And once that happened, they were great to work with, and they were fully involved.
And that sounds mean, right? Like we’re manipulative, but it was just a fact that I don’t get to set priorities for the office of the registrar. And I get where they’re coming from and they’re juggling so much already. In order to achieve the course marking project, someone had to make it a priority for the office of the registrar to be at the table. And until that happened, it wasn’t going to happen. And that was true in several different offices.
Karen: Thank you all for sharing the challenges of data collection and some ideas for how to address them. I’d also like to acknowledge there’s been ongoing conversation in the chat, especially sharing a lot of resources related to what our three guests have been talking about. Special thanks to Cheryl who’s dropped several links in there recently. So, we are at the end of our hour together.
I hope that everyone will join us in thanking our guests, Josh, Teri and Carrie. And thank all of you for joining us at Office Hours. We look forward to seeing you next month, when we will continue in this vein, I believe. Apurva, do you want to chat a little bit about that?
Apurva: Sure, Karen, and I will just first thank our speakers. And I just want to say appreciated your transparency and honesty when it comes to this challenging topic. I know that there are a lot of barriers and obstacles, but it sounds like as a collective effort we can find small ways to push through and make change even if it’s at a cultural level and not just with one or two stakeholders.
So, next month, we’re actually going to look at some of the people that our speakers mentioned and also we’ve talked about in the chat and think effectively about student leaders. How can we bring students into this conversation and make sure that they are able to be engaged in this advocacy work? We know sometimes that administration responds well to faculty, but also student voices.
We’re going to try to hear from some student leaders themselves, and I will say if any of you have suggestions for speakers or suggestions for other topics that you’d like us to consider this year with Office Hours, we are open. We are all ears open. I’m dropping in a link in the chat to a form that you could fill out. I think this last conversation about data collection is making me wonder whether a session devoted to data collection might be helpful for us all to think through this topic.
And I’m seeing a lot of thank yous roll into the chat, so thank you all also for attending and for your reflections and thoughts and comments. Karen, any closing words?
Karen: Farewell, everybody, look forward to seeing you again, and until then take care.
Apurva: Take care. Bye everybody.
END OF VIDEO
00:12:09 Barbara Thees (she/her): Office Hours YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_HCuxp85e36BTNh9ei2QqBL_aqu3Q-F2
00:13:00 Apurva Ashok: Get in touch for any requests about the chat/recording at firstname.lastname@example.org
00:13:22 Barbara Thees (she/her): Open Education Network: https://open.umn.edu/otn/
00:13:32 Barbara Thees (she/her): Rebus Community: https://www.rebus.community
00:13:36 Apurva Ashok: Rebus Community: https://about.rebus.community/
00:14:00 Cheryl Cuillier: Rock star panel!
00:14:27 Jonathan Poritz: collector’s item!
00:14:36 Karen Lauritsen: Swag for everyone!
00:25:36 Josh Bolick he/him: I could do with a little less time on my toes
00:29:52 Cheryl Cuillier: Great tips! Thank you
00:33:01 Amanda Larson: Can you talk about strategies for re-connecting with leadership when you’re working in an environment with a revolving door of administration? How do you keep your programs moving forward with that much institutional change?
00:33:42 Barbara Thees (she/her): Here’s the recording of the OEN Summit Textbook Heroes session that Josh mentioned: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DE6XNQLv_ak&list=PLWRE6ioG4vdZbJGUCc0XquZi23EHXXLKM&index=13
00:36:22 Cheryl Cuillier: I find it helpful to frame communications with admins using specific language from the campus strategic plan, mission, and values
00:37:51 Carrie Gits: Our communications director using Constant Contact for reaching out to faculty. Our student affairs department uses that too.
00:41:13 Jessica Norman: Have folks had success with making sure you have documentation? In other words, creating policy, strategic plan, or project documents that can then be endorsed by management.
00:42:00 Jessica Norman: I found that I could then share this with the new leaders to show the institutional support for ongoing projects or activities.
00:42:52 Marilyn Billings: Josh, if you have many faculty working with you, faculty do have lots of “power” / influence over administration.
00:44:11 Cheryl Cuillier: As part of OEN’s Certificate in OER Librarianship, participants develop an extensive Action Plan. Examples can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Cpadnvd9jdABvkmgp50qi1xw-kQmrXinMAgQfF5xKUY/edit?usp=sharing
00:44:40 Jonathan Poritz: Or, @Marilyn, faculty can make a culture, as Josh put it, which functions independent of the administration
00:47:11 Amanda Larson: Thanks! I think these are all really helpful strategies, particularly as we see a lot admin turmoil across the board at institutions. I love the idea of building a culture rather than reimagining your initiative with each new admin.
00:52:31 Cheryl Cuillier: @Teri – can you please share a link to the legislation requiring data sharing by bookstores? That’s awesome
00:53:04 Teri Gallaway: it is ACT 125 I will see if I can grabit!
00:53:46 Teri Gallaway: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1143722
00:53:49 Josh Bolick he/him: Here’s the course marking project at KU: https://marking.ku.edu/
00:54:21 Josh Bolick he/him: and Textbook Heroes mentioned before: https://lib.ku.edu/textbook-heroes
00:55:07 Cheryl Cuillier: Thanks, Teri!
00:56:13 Cheryl Cuillier: Highly recommend the Textbook Affordability Conference Josh mentioned (I’ve attended with our bookstores too): https://tac.nacs.org/
01:02:26 Cheryl Cuillier: Open Oregon did a useful blog post on local data collection, “Support for a Local Approach to Statewide OER Data Collection,” https://openoregon.org/local-data
01:05:50 Cheryl Cuillier: And kudos to the Open Education Network for developing a member Data Dashboard tool, https://open.umn.edu/otn/hub
01:06:24 Carrie Gits: Also, our new B&N bookstore faculty adoption platform is also changing and it *should* be able to track adoptions easier. That is TBD at this time what it will really look like.
01:07:39 Josh Bolick he/him: thanks everyone! my pleasure and honor!
01:07:40 Una Daly: Thanks, very helpful discussion!!
01:07:53 Library-Hannah White: Thank you, Josh–Rock Chalk!
01:08:10 Josh Bolick he/him: Hi Hannah!
01:08:24 Library-Hannah White: Thank you, Teri! You make Louisiana look good around the country!
01:08:42 Apurva Ashok: Any suggestions for topics or speakers are welcome: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScaGr1NCvVnk1C6uKiwkfYWvJcK0QDfwJIZJJV-ckmGK19Wpg/viewform
01:08:49 Jonathan Poritz: Wonderful, insightful and honest commentary from a rock-star panel! Thanks!!
01:08:56 Carrie Gits: Thank you everyone for the great conversation!
01:09:05 David Vrieze Daniels: Thank you!
01:09:06 Teri Gallaway: thank you!
01:09:14 Amy Trepal: Thank you!
01:09:14 Cheryl Cuillier: Great job! Thank you all
01:09:15 Amanda Larson: Thanks!