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 Student Leaders in OER
- Akanksha Bhatnagar (Communications and Public Relations Officer, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations)
- Nicholas (Nick) Sengstaken (Chancellor’s Fellow, Office of the Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
- Letícia Nunes Campos (4th-year medical student, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Universidade de Pernambuco)
- Nikki Godfrey (Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs, Board of Regents, State of Louisiana)
- Emily Frank (Affordable Learning Program Administrator, LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network)
- Karen Lauritsen (Publishing Director, Open Education Network)
- Apurva Ashok (Project Lead, Rebus Community)
Apurva: All right, hello everyone, welcome to another Office Hours. My name is Apurva Ashok, I am the project lead at the Rebus Community. And I’m joined today by Karen Lauritsen and Barb Thees from the Open Education Network. For those of you who don’t know Rebus is a Canadian charity that offers programs, resources and other types of publishing support and service for your OER projects and efforts regardless of whether you’re based in Canada or somewhere else in the world.
Today, we’ll be talking about how to engage student leaders in OER. This is actually part two of a two-part series, and if you missed last month’s session about engaging administrative leaders, I will encourage you to watch the recording and recap. Our speakers from last session really gave us some wonderful tips and strategies for how you can think about some of those administrative stakeholders in OER and how to really engage them when it comes to your strategic planning.
If this is your first time attending Office Hours, I will let you know that it’s an informal conversation. Really, our format is to hear from guests for about five minutes each and then after 15, 20 minutes or so, we’ll turn things over to you to drive the conversation with your questions, with your experiences, with your thoughts. And I will also flag that we are always open to suggestions when it comes to speakers and topics as well.
So, I will drop into the chat a link to a form where you can provide your feedback and suggestions if you’re looking for us to cover a particular topic in 2021. If you’d like to be a speaker or if you know of someone who will be an excellent speaker, you can always let us know in the form that I’ve just linked to. So, Karen, I will turn it over to you to introduce our great line up of guests today and maybe also share a little bit more about the Open Education Network.
Karen: Thanks, Apurva and hello everyone. I’m Karen Lauritsen with the Open Education Network along with Barb Thees. And the OEN is a community of professionals who are working together to move open education forward, primarily in the United States. We have members representing around, Barb, is it 1,500 institutions now?
Barb: It’s around 1,300 mostly in the US, but also Canada and Australia.
Karen: Thank you. And we share best practices and resources in order to support open ed programs and practices. So, as Apurva said, this is an informal conversation, so we’re looking forward to hearing from all of you. As our guests share their experience and expertise, please feel free to talk amongst yourselves or start asking questions in the chat. We will keep an eye on chat and facilitate conversation from there as well.
So, without further ado, I will let you know the four guests who are here with us and then turn things over to them, one by one. Our four guests today are Akanksha Bhatnagar, she is communications and public relations officer with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Nikki Godfrey, who is assistant commissioner for public affairs with the Board of Regents at the State of Louisiana.
Nicholas or Nick Sengstaken chancellor’s fellow, Office of the Chancellor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And Letícia Nunes Campos, who is a fourth year medical student at the faculty of medical sciences at Universidade de Pernambuco. So, to get us started I will turn things over to Akanksha.
Akanksha: Hi, everyone, thanks so much for being here and thanks so much for having me. Like mentioned, my name is Akanksha, I use she/her pronouns and I’m the communications and public relations officer at the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, it’s kind of a mouthful. But essentially what we do is we’re a student lobby organization that is run effectively by 23 student associations across Canada, who have student delegates that let us know what their priorities are.
And for the past about I would say seven to eight years, one of our big priorities has been copyright and open education issues, simply because students are so interested in the concept of open and free textbooks honestly. But we’ve tried to rope them in in terms of the research side as well and we represent anywhere from undergraduate students in Canada, to polytechnics and trades and to graduate students as well.
I also got involved in student leadership when I was at the University of Alberta. I served as the VP academic there, and chair of the open education advocacy group where we worked with our university administration to develop OER policies for campus and work on projects like ZTC textbook course cost indicators. But also while I was a student leader, what I started to learn a lot more about was the intersection of EDI or equity, diversity and inclusivity when it comes to open educational resources.
And so, I got involved thankfully through a colleague, someone who’s really close to my heart and is also on the call, Hailey Babb who is an incredible student leader formerly from University of Lethbridge and now is with SPARC. And I think she’s taken me under her wing and has been able to teach me a lot, because I do a lot of work with the Open Education Conference that you might have heard of and also, on the EDI OpenStax advisory committee.
So, I try to delve a little bit into the American side, but I’m primarily focused on open education advocacy here in Canada, which is as we were talking about prior to the call starting is so different than America, however, is often correlated. So, I’m really happy to be here and I’m super excited to learn from everyone and have conversations with folks.
Karen: Thanks so much, Akanksha, and over to you, Nikki.
Nikki: And good afternoon everyone and thank you for inviting me to join this wonderful conversation today. I’m Nikki Godfrey, and I serve as the assistant commissioner for public affairs at the Louisiana Board of Regents. And that is a state agency in Louisiana that coordinates all public higher education for our state. We have four systems and 32 institutions under our umbrella here at Regents.
And I’ve been at Regents about five years, and I think one of the most important things we’ve done within that time is to have added the Louisiana Library Network or LOUIS, we have an acronym for everything, to our team. LOUIS is a consortium of public and private college and university libraries in our state. And the partnership was formed by library deans and directors to create a cost effective collaboration among our institutions for the procurement of library and technology resources.
So, LOUIS is under the direction of Dr Teri Gallaway, who I love, and I think has interacted with this group. It’s currently 47 members strong. The addition of LOUIS to our Regents team has allowed for an increased level of collaboration between the library services, our students, and our institutions across the state. So, through LOUIS and their affordable learning Louisiana initiative, they’ve been able to partner with libraries and faculty to save students money by reducing the cost of instructional material.
So, speaking the language through AERs and OERs and other open access materials. And so, it ensures that our students have equitable access to course materials from the beginning, from their first day of classes. So, to date this initiative has served over 126,000 students, saving over $26 million. The specifics of that I’ll leave to the experts in that area, but they are online and available at louislibraries.org the website.
And Emily Frank from that team is on the call today, so Emily can drop that in the chat for you guys as well. But what I’d like to add to this conversation is a short dialogue on how we’ve been able to use our students and the power of the student voice to advocate for OER. I’m also pleased to be able to serve as an advisor for Louisiana’s Council of Student Body Presidents.
The Council of Student Body Presidents, again, acronym, you’ll hear me say COSBP was formed to promote communication among the students and our member schools to further educational and social interest and to support the advancement of higher education around the state. So, our council serves as a representative body for those students at our colleges and universities that belong to our four systems and they work with us to convey their thoughts, their opinions, their needs, their wants.
And they let us know how we can improve the lives of students and maintain a strong working relationship among our students. So, we gather monthly with our student leaders, our student body presidents from each of our 32 institutions. They engage in leadership development sessions, and we meet to ensure that our students are in the know on all relevant issues impacting students.
And that they also have concrete methods to spread news and awareness to their respective student bodies on their campuses. So, when Teri and LOUIS reached out to us to ask for support from COSBP for OER initiatives, we were delighted to have that partnership and to expand our engagement with them. And as much as I think we know what students want and how we communicate with them, we’ve learned quickly that it’s better to let students hear from students.
And hear from them in the language that they speak to each other, so whether that’s been having students to testify in front of the State legislature, or even having our student stomp the hill on Capitol Hill to advocate for affordability to our congressional delegation, we continue to advance the power of the student voice. We often use the hashtags listen to the students and it’s all about the students.
And we are intentional about living that out. So, to encourage OER use and promotion, we first had to ensure our students understood the benefits and what that was. During that time initially, we were in person in meetings, but now over Zoom we allow students to ask questions, to engage, to hear from our experts and we also ask them what methods they think may be best to spread the news to their peers.
I don’t want to take too much time going into specifics on that now, happy to answer any questions. But some of those initiatives that our students have engaged to spread the news about OER have included student videos on social media, on campus campaigns, and we have provided graphic design and support material for campus use.
So, in closing the collaboration between LOUIS, our library network and COSBP, our student body president organization from around the state has been beneficial for our state and for the promotion of OER initiatives in Louisiana. And by the way, my dissertation topic was in student engagement, so these conversations excite me, I could probably talk about this all day.
But again, thank you for allowing me to join you today to talk about OER and our student advocates for OER and our student engagement. Happy to answer any questions, thank you.
Karen: Super, thanks very much, Nikki. And Nick, over to you.
Nick: Awesome, well hey all my name is Nick Sengstaken, I’m incredibly honored to be on this call, it’s so refreshing to see so many people excited about OER. And first of all, so refreshing to hear people want to engage students on OER. I think so many times we hear about oh, this is a library conversation, this is an admin conversation. No, this is a student conversation.
It impacts students and they need to be engaged, so thank you. As a former student myself, thank you. But as already mentioned, my current position, I’m currently at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where I graduated in May, I’m serving as a chancellor’s fellow. But my experience in OER really goes back to my time as a student, starting my freshman year.
I was the affordability coordinator for NCPIRG on our campus and becoming vice chair of that organization and as well as the affordability co-chair on our student government, our undergraduate chief of staff. And then also found roles in the national level in the United States, working with USPIRG. And was really fortunate to work on a number of initiatives really led by the student voice.
At Carolina we unveiled our textbook affordability pledge, which we were able to gather over 350 faculty partners to work with students to improve practices on our campus. We were also able to work with admin, to stop an inclusive access program on our campus and increase the use of open materials throughout that conversation. What I will say as I speak today, I think it’s really important to note that OER is not a singular issue.
There’s all these different factors that impact it. And as we talk about it, we need to include things like access codes. The textbook affordability issue overall is incredibly important here. Because working with a faculty member to move them to OER it’s not just about that, it’s about what material are you currently using? Why are you currently using that material? And how can we move you to something that is going to be better?
And that might not always be an OER. There might be a step or two in between between an access code and OER. So, I just want to mention that. But also, I went on to work on the national Cengage McGraw-Hill merger, the failed Cengage McGraw-Hill merger. And most recently as a chancellor’s fellow was able to unveil our class features program at Carolina, which we’re really proud to say is one of the most expansive course marking programs in the country, which includes open syllabi course costs.
So, we’re really proud about that. But when I talk about how to engage student leaders, I do want to mention student leaders aren’t always student government, they’re not always from organizations, they’re not always affiliated with anyone, sometimes they might just be a student who’s walking through the pit after leaving the student store and saying, “Oh my god, that textbook was expensive, why am I doing this?”
That can be a student leader, it can be anyone. And that’s how I got involved. I was actually registering students to vote for the 2016 election. And NCPIRG said, “Hey, do you think textbooks are too expensive?” I said, “Yeah.” And next thing I knew I was advocating for that. So, really remember that it’s not always about working with student governments, working with students.
And as I think about student engagement, I think there’s three really important points I want to touch on, the first is when you work with students it’s really important to simplify the OER message. OER is daunting, no one knows what it means, unfortunately. So, when we go on campus, I think it’s as simple as it sounds, using terms like open textbooks and really framing it in a message that’s easy to understand and that’s approachable, but also humanizing the message.
At Carolina, a lot of our support with our textbook pledge came from framing it from an affordability lens and saying, “Yeah, textbooks are too expensive, we feel your pain, here’s a great solution and here’s why it’s so great.” And the next point I think is important is when you move on and you’re able to bring people to a conversation with a simple message that humanizes the issues, then it’s important to have data and fact driven arguments.
So, at Carolina we kept constant metrics on how much were our students actually spending on textbooks per year. When we started our work with the textbook pledge, the average cost of textbooks at Carolina was about $1,600 per year, which is not good. Thankfully, when I graduated, it was down to $972 and it’s continuing to fall. So, we’re seeing those things. But keeping an eye on those metrics and using them in your conversations is crucial.
And also, giving students the tools, so giving them the facts, being transparent is really important. And then, the third point I mention all the time is really students don’t really understand and I certainly didn’t before coming and being in an admin role I didn’t understand how the institution worked. I didn’t know who was reporting to whom, and so first of all giving students those tools, but also working with students to help them understand those institutional positions.
And who reports to who and why. And then, if you are working with student leaders in the student government, expressing to them what their role is and why it’s so important. I didn’t realize how critical my student government role was until I was there. And I had people on other issues coming to me and saying, “Hey, you’re in this codified position that is on taskforce committees at this institution. This is why it’s so important the work you’re doing.”
And I think framing it in that way is crucial, so I could talk for hours if you have any questions, please shoot them off in the chat. But thank you so much for having me, I’m beyond honored and humbled. Thank you.
Karen: Great, thanks so much, Nick. And Letícia.
Letícia: So, hi, everyone. Karen, thank you for introducing me. I’m Letícia Campos, and I’m one of the current members of the International Student Surgical Network (InciSioN) international team. And general secretary of InciSioN Brazil and I was really delighted to receive this invitation to join you all today. And before I share with you my experiences, I just wanted to say something very briefly before I tell you all.
So, when we talk about open science, we usually focus on the research output. We focus on opening the access to articles, we focus on opening data, opening sources, opening educational resources. But at the end, open science is not about only opening the research output. It’s about what kind of people do you want to produce science? To contribute to science?
This is the main point of open science, is to give power to those who doesn’t have and wish to contribute to science. So, in this sense, students are capable of contributing to open science and to open educational resources. So, the story I want to share with you is not only my story, it’s the story of 193 medical schools, which participate in an organization called IFMSA Brazil.
Tricky name, I know, but IFMSA means the International Federation of Medical Students Associations of Brazil which represents more than 5,000 medical students from Brazil and it’s really a place which I learned to call home and in which I serve as national officer for research exchanges. And last year, I was the local president of my local committee associated to IFMSA Brazil and also the general assistant of IFMSA Brazil’s scientific team, which I’m going to explain to you right now.
So, IFMSA Brazil has these different aspects of it, so since 2016, IFMSA Brazil has launched what we call the publications and research access this means that IFMSA Brazil has the means to provide access to research and research education to all its affiliated members and to capacitate people in research, and this includes spreading the word of open educational resources.
And how do we do that? So, IFMSA Brazil has this structure which functions in the national, regional, and local level. So, we have the national officer on publications and research, and he or she has its own team that we call the scientific team, in which I was able to join last year. And together, this scientific team brings to the medical schools associated to IFMSA Brazil the world of research, the world of open science.
And we actually want the students to be empowered and to be research leaders in their own education. And I can tell you many different experiences, but I wanted to give you some practical, something that you can feel and that you can take as example. So, I’m going to tell you a very interesting story. So, one day as general assistant I was talking in a WhatsApp group with our members.
And then, this question came up hey, am I the only one struggling to learn biostatistics? And the following messages came as follows, like oh no, you’re not alone. I definitely need some help to learn biostatistics. Man, I don’t know at all. I don’t know which books to read. I don’t know which software to use. And then, I noticed this pattern many medical students wanting to learn biostatistics but no assistance at all to help.
No professor was interested in helping us. And then, there is a secret, in IFMSA Brazil, we believe in peer education, about students educating other students for students. And then, when I noticed this pattern, I said, “Hey, what about bringing these interested people together? And we actually start to learn about statistics from ground zero.” And then, on the other day, we created this group with 50 interested people.
And then, we divided these 50 people into small working groups and that’s how it goes, so each small working group needed to provide a lecture to the other groups about a certain topic of statistics. Okay, but not only the lecture, we needed to provide many other resources, and then we started to struggle. And that’s the importance of OER. So, our first question was okay, what software are we going to use? Is it going to be an easy one?
Is it going to be a difficult one? Is it free? Is it accessible? So, our first question. Second question okay, we now have another problem, which book are we going to use as basis to learn? And then, after we had passed through these struggles, we set our bases, our books and software and everything and then each group started to make their own educational resources about statistics.
So, they did short videos, short tutorials explaining some concepts or how to use the software in order to do a certain task. Besides this, we did our own exercises, so after the lecture, here you have these exercises, so you can practice both the theory and the practice that you learned during the lecture. We did files of three pages long to explain very complicated concepts of statistics.
So, this is an example of some of the things that we did besides that I can say for example that the scientific team, in which I participated, we do a series of different webinars in order to teach other students about many different aspects of science and about open science. And then, at the end of each webinar, we launch a new material, a new resource, so they can actually be the leaders of their own education.
And as open educational resource, I can say something that happened last year and that I’m really proud of being on the people which launched the idea in IFMSA Brazil. Last year, IFMSA Brazil hosted its first workshop about training new research trainers. And then, we explained lots of things and we stimulated students who are now trainers on research to advocate for open educational resources.
So, I was in the pilot project, it was very challenging, some of the people that are here on this call were part of the organizing committee. And really, I know that I only have five minutes, it’s a very short time, I wish I could tell many other experiences that I participated in IFMSA Brazil. But something that I can say is that in IFMSA Brazil I realized how powerful students are, how much difference we can make and we need to rely actually in peer education.
Students are able to teach new things to other students, are able to give them the voice, the power, the freedom, so they can pursue the research career. So, really, I’m very honored to be in IFMSA Brazil and for all these experiences. And now, I’m totally open for questions.
Karen: Thank you, Letícia, and thanks again to our four guests for sharing your experience and for bringing it sounds like a lot of other people to the call who can also contribute to the conversation. So, we welcome all of you to chime in, this is now your time. We have about half an hour left together. And looking to the chat it looks like our first question is from Esperanza, she is curious for any of you how COVID has impacted the work that you’ve been doing.
Nikki: Do you want us to just jump in?
Karen: Jump on in.
Nikki: Okay. Happy to do that, so here in Louisiana COVID obviously has, as it has across the country, dealt us an additional blow. So, we have in our state been historically underfunded when it comes to higher education and higher education initiatives. In addition to COVID, we’ve had two devastating hurricanes to hit our state, at the same time. And now, we’re going through freezing conditions in our state, weather that has disabled the northern portion of our state. So, we’ve a rough go of it lately.
When COVID hit, what we recognized was that before we could continue to advance OER initiatives, we had to work on bridging the digital divide, we have a big population of haves and have nots in our state. And in order to tout the benefits of OER, we had to address the digital divide and implement solutions at scale to ensure that we were reducing barriers to attendance and completion for our students, for our student leaders and across the state.
And so, we had to take a step back to take a step forward. And so, those initiatives, which I think will pay dividends in the future have allowed us to work on connectivity issues for our students. And even devices, we had students that were driving to area restaurants to sit outside to try to pull up textbooks on their cellphones. And so, we had to work on device distribution and WIFI hotspot access for our students.
And our libraries were key across the state in offering access to internet and WIFI spots for our students to continue that work. And so, I think COVID caused us to pivot in a number of ways that we obviously weren’t prepared for but has also allowed us to be able to be more intentional with our student leaders and our student leadership on campus to have an increased focus on bridging the digital divide, but also on addressing barriers to completion for our students.
And so, with our student leaders and our groups on campus, we have really had to also work on increasing their motivation and being proactive in terms of our outreach to them. So, we’ve had weekly calls and emails with our student body presidents throughout, especially in the beginning of the pandemic. Now, those have transitioned to bi-weekly or monthly, just depending on what’s going on out there.
And I think it’s made us be more intentional about how we’re spreading the messages, how we’re getting the word out, how we’re still continuing to elevate conversations about OER and the importance of access and what that also allows them to do in terms of affordability in times where resources are tight.
Apurva: And Nick, I believe I saw you unmuting earlier, so did you also have anything to say about how the pandemic has impacted your work?
Nick: I think I first want to start out by saying if there wasn’t the excuse before to include students in conversations, there certainly isn’t now, because we have Zoom. And I think that’s what we’ve seen, is now it’s even easier to bring more people to the table. And as we go forward, advocating for whatever you’re advocating for in whatever space you’re in, that’s something to note.
But I think for us, at Carolina, we’ve seen that COVID has just highlighted the pressure points that were already there. A lot of issues that we neglected, honestly, for years and years they came to the forefront because of this new form of remote instruction. And coming from an institution like Carolina, that we were founded in 1789, a lot of our classes still teach like they were in 1789.
We were not ready, so we had to learn and adapt. And as I mentioned the class features tool early on, that is a feature that came completely out of COVID. It’s a silver lining of COVID, where we found that during this time students needed more information. It was no longer okay to say, “Sign up for classes however you want, go to advising if you need questions, go to the student stores if you want a textbook.”
You can’t just do that anymore, there’s more nuance, there’s more barriers. So, we found that we needed to be more transparent to bring more people to the table. And through those conversations, we were able to get some of those things that we had wanted for a while. For 10 years we’ve been advocating for open syllabi at Carolina, we finally got it, because we realized that was something that students needed during this time where there was all this confusion.
We had been advocating for course marking, to have textbook prices that form of textbook or of material, we’ve been advocating for that to be available at registration or before registration for ages. I’ve been screaming about that for years now. And we finally got that because of COVID. So, I think as we move forward, first of all, learning that if issues come forward, if students are recognizing that something is an issue, it is.
And it shouldn’t take a pandemic to finally bring those issues to the forefront, but in a way, at Carolina, we found that it made us finally take a step and engage in these issues and find great solutions. So, I’ll also say it’s been one of those things where again, with Zoom it’s more important than ever to bring people to the conversation. So, hopefully that helps.
Karen: There are so many opportunities to communicate, I think both of you are highlighting the necessity for keeping those channels open, listening deeply and the power of the pandemic to ideally anyway accelerate a lot of delayed issues. All right. Letícia?
Apurva: Looks like Letícia also had her hand up, so I think she may have wanted to talk about how the pandemic has affected her work.
Letícia: Yes, thank you. Let me just lower my hand, okay. So, regarding that, I just need to briefly explain to you something, so for IFMSA Brazil to work with more than 190 medical schools I think you can already believe that most of our communication is online. And through online resources, I guess, you already can feel that.
But what I noticed with COVID-19 was in the past, since medical students need to balance their medical school activities and their activities in IFMSA Brazil, sometimes they struggled with time, with resources on how to provide educational opportunities regarding OER, open science and other topics. And then, with COVID-19, since we needed some pause from academic activities and most of the events went online.
What we noticed was an increase in demand. So, more medical students were coming to us, saying, “Hey, can you please help me with that?” “Hey, I want to make this activity about OER and I don’t know where to start, can you please help me on that? I really want to make this opportunity.” And then, we noticed this increase in demand among the medical students.
So, if I’m going to analyze the work that IFMSA Brazil does internally, then the amount has increased because of these opportunities and because virtual communication was enhanced because of the pandemic. But what I analyze in the perspectives of IFMSA Brazil with other stakeholders, depends on which kind of partnership we wanted to do.
So, for example, some of our stakeholders were unavailable to make some collaborations to promote some partnership activities because of the pandemic and they needed to focus more on certain projects that they were carrying on. Some other stakeholders were like, “Hey, this is the moment for us to unite, the moment is now, we need to do something together.”
And so, internally the work was enhanced when I analyze IFMSA Brazil with other stakeholders, it depends on the area they were focusing, but I noticed that these changes were coming up because of the pandemic. So, I hope I answered Esperanza on that.
Karen: Thank you, Letícia, it’s great to hear about the increase in interest and support for OER that’s something that I think we were all hoping to see and was or wasn’t happening depending on the pressures of the circumstances for many just dealing with some of the issues that Nikki raised. So, to hear that there was this demand for hey, I need support in creating and sharing OER is exciting.
Okay, I’m going to turn back to the chat. Okay, Emily Frank who is with LOUIS says, “In a previous role my colleagues and I developed a strong collaboration with student government leadership, but then the year ended, students graduated, and we started at square one the next year. Do you all have recommendations for building in sustainability and developing longer-term relationships when there will naturally be students coming and going?”
Apurva: Akanksha, I wonder if you have perspective, given that you’re working with so many different student lobby groups where representatives might be changing as students graduate or new members come into those groups.
Akanksha: Absolutely, I actually do. I think that I have a lot to say about this for exactly that reason. I think that the student lifecycle is something that is really important to absolutely understand, when the elections are on your campus, when student leaders are going to be turning over and when student leaders are going to be starting their transition processes. I think that that’s one thing that student leaders have done really well is they do have embedded processes to transition their incoming teams and their incoming portfolios.
So, making sure that you know when those are, providing people with the ability to say I know your transition is coming up, I know your term is ending. Here’s a one-page summary of what we’ve done over this year that I hope that you can pass on to your successor. And once your successor has been elected, I would love to meet with you, them and myself, one on one or your team.
I think that that initial piece of contact is so important and that was a big reason that I stayed connected with my open community when I was a student leader is that when I had successfully won the election, my VP academic at the time had introduced me to our open education librarian and I was able to build that connection even before I had started officially my role.
So, I think that it’s really important to know what the cycle on your campus looks like and be able to find those areas of influence. And the second thing I’ll say is that typically in Canada student associations are coupled with an organization behind them, whether that’s a general manager or a few full-time staff members. I think that if you build a positive relationship with the student leader, you can build a positive relationship with their staff as well to be able to have that conversation more full time.
So, for example, the Canadian Alliance of Student Association, CASA, where I work right now, we’re full-time employees, who have graduated I say it with quotation marks, because I’m still completing my degree, but who have basically graduated who are here full-time regardless of their student lifecycle. So, having relationships with organizations that have less turnaround would be great, because we’re able to make those connections for you as quickly as possible or with whoever you would like to make them with.
So, I do think that understanding the student lifecycle is really important in creating those points of continuity and those points of contact for student leaders, just to make it easier for them once they’ve started their role to be able to continue to prioritize and focus on open. Because once you’re in the job and I’m sure any student leader can attest to this, there’s always 1,000 different emergencies that you need to decide.
And you only get to really focus on a few and anything that you can do to really make their transition or their integration in open easier or simpler, the more likely they are to connect with you on those issues.
Nick: If I can add onto that, you’re spot on. So, it’s interesting, and I think there’s two ways to go at this. When I was undergrad chief of staff, of course, affordability was just one of 10 committees I oversaw. And luckily, it was the issue I love, so I kept an eye on it. But I think your point is very well taken, it’s really important to understand the institution. So, when are those elections going to be?
But it’s even more important to speak with leaders and make sure there’s transition guides in place because typically student governments have an advisor, make sure their advisor is cued into what’s going on. But quite frankly, if you can give someone a one-pager of what happened at the end of the year, that right there, that never happened for us, but I’m sitting here going, “Oh my god, that’s incredible.”
If I had that from a partner on campus, I’d be so excited, it’d be like Christmas. So, that’s incredible. Absolutely love that idea. One thing I will say is if you’re working with codified groups, or codified positions, you’ve already started out from a good place. And if you’re not, it’s really important to work with your institution to make sure those roles are codified, whether they’re through a student constitution, student code, whatever it may be.
Make sure that there’s something on paper making sure that one of these positions, especially in a student government is going to be there year to year is really important. Because then you actually have that point of contact going forward. But when you look at organizations that aren’t part of student government, then it gets a little more complicated. With that, what I would always recommend is making sure that they have a good relationship with those codified positions.
So, what we did at Carolina, of course I transitioned from NCPIRG which is a non-codified, regular registered student organization to a student government, what I made sure to do was connect my predecessor in NCPIRG with our affordability co-chairs in student government to make sure that that relationship would be there year to year. And I think it’s also important too, because you’re dealing with students who are every aspect, you have first years, you have sophomores, you have seniors, juniors, there’s quite a range there.
So, making sure that you can create those relationships and those coalitions is going to help you a lot. But the biggest thing is transition guides, write it down, keep a record, keep it in a secure Google drive. I’ve met so many student leaders across the country who still have paper files. No, Google drive, it’s great or One Drive. I think that’s the biggest thing and then again, work with advisors and no paper files. And working with their advisors is really important, too.
Nikki: And I think for us in Louisiana everything that you guys have just said obviously are best practices. We do host transition meetings. And I think the benefit of us having an organization of our student body presidents is that we have two full-time staff persons, who support that work. And so, we’re able to transition things through staff as well. But I will say that we have tried to within this past year become intentional about being more inclusive.
So, in addition to working with student body presidents, we will also host listening sessions. So, whether that’s we’ll reach out to your campus and say, “Hey, Nicholas, we want to come and speak. Make sure you have representatives from your freshman class on through your senior class on.” And so, we’re speaking to cabinets, we’re speaking more broadly to student government associations, we’re speaking more broadly to Greek organizations.
We’re speaking more broadly to campus organizations, and so for example we have a listening session next week, it was supposed to tomorrow, but again, weather here. We have a listening session next week with our commissioner of higher education, who just wants to hear from students about what is school looking like for you now? What is COVID looking like? What are some other things that we can do to support your experience?
Are there any questions? And so, I think those opportunities allow us the chance to hear directly from students, but to also have them engaged in the work on a continuous basis, so that it’s not just at a transition period at the end of the year, but they know what we’re doing year round. And so, we try to host those at least quarterly, so if there is a hot topic coming up like we’re going to back to the legislature and asking for more funding or support for our OER initiatives, students hear about that.
They hear about it, they let us know what their experience has been like with the textbooks, and with access and logging on, and paying for course codes, all of those things. So, they hear about it and then they see us discussing that in the legislature and bringing it forward. And so, they’re really eager to participate.
Now, we have to put a cap on the numbers that we can allow, but I think us taking a more proactive approach to having that year round dialogue with a broader scope of students on campus from their freshman year, and they’re always idealistic and thinking hey, this is great, everything’s fine. To sophomores, junior and senior year, and even our graduate students, our law students and our medical school students are also very unique.
I think the message that we have to learn and that we are still reminding ourselves about is that they all have unique experiences and also deserve to be heard. And so, we’re trying to be more intentional about doing that again throughout the year, instead of just waiting until that transition period. And then, also remembering and reminding ourselves to do those key things that make those transitions easier, that you guys have mentioned.
Nick: One thing I’ll add onto that too is it’s really important when you do bring students to the table, diversify the people you bring. So, don’t just always bring the same student, because that’s the student who you know is really interested and always come to these meetings. Reach out, try to make sure that you’re planning ahead there. And with transition guides, too keep a note of communications, who on an administrative level has been brought into these conversations and make a list.
Because as someone who moved into a lot of these roles, it was really helpful to come and say, “I know my predecessor met with X people.” And then I can reach out and get ahead of things, too.
Letícia: I would like also to add to this question because transition period is something that I experienced a lot because I took many different positions over these last four years. So, I really would like to provide some advice to Emily. Thank you for your question, by the way. So, in IFMSA Brazil, I learned a cultural thing that I believe it needs to be taught in any organization.
Your term independently of the position that you are posted in only ends with your successor’s term ends. This is the main rule of the handover process, about making a smoother transition period. So, there are some very simple rules that you can follow. So, for example, since you assume a certain position, a certain role in your organization, imagine that you have this institutional commitment of memory.
So, don’t use your personal email, only use the institutional, the official email for example. Any important files don’t put them on your personal Google drive, don’t put on your One Drive account. Put on the institutional, the official account, so the thing to sustain organization needs to start on your term. So, separate each pile, each important document or anything else in a way that your successor will be able to easily find and to easily track.
So, this is one important advice. When you start the handover, it’s not only about saying, “Hey so this year we did A, B, C, D, E, F, G and the entire alphabet.” It’s not only making this list, it’s about teaching, developing skills on your successor. So, for example, in case you’re advocating for OER, you need to be on spot with communication skills. You need to know how to communicate, how to manage with stakeholders in case you want to spread OER.
So, one example I can teach you as my successor how to communicate with stakeholders, how to manage them, how to shape your leadership skills. So, handover process is not only about handing over a list of points that happened during the year, it’s about handing over abilities, competencies that you need to execute to carry your work in proper manner. So, this is the beauty of handover.
And this is my last point on that is in case your organization has any kind of file or any document similar to it, put as obligation to any director to make a handover process with their successors and not only making a handover, but put a period for that. So, for example, in IFMSA Brazil, when we are changing executive boards, each member from the previous executive board needs to provide handover in 16 days, from the election of the new executive board. So, these three tips will help you out in sustainable organization.
Karen: Thank you, all. All such wonderful practical recommendations. We have 10 minutes remaining and two more questions that I know of in the chat. So, I’m going to turn to Hayley’s question with a note about Nancy’s question, which is just after Hayley’s. So, I’m going to mention Nancy and then go back to Hayley. So, Nancy says with open education week coming up, are there any events or promotions that have worked in the past that we could try to do this year?
I’m guessing that there may be people in this call who could also drop in suggestions for Nancy, things that you’ve tried in the past. So, let’s earmark that one and then Hayley is asking what is something you wish faculty administrators and decision makers knew about the student leadership experience? Hopefully we can address both of these, but just in case we run out of time, I wanted to put in a plug for Nancy’s question there.
So, what do you wish faculty administrators and decision makers knew about the student leadership experience that we may not have mentioned so far?
Nick: I can start there, it’s been interesting being on both sides of the admin student relationship. I think the biggest thing is these issues are real, I don’t think we stop and pause and realize that sometimes, we think oh textbook, it’s $100 great. That’s wonderful. But $100 times five classes or more that adds up and that’s a real problem, and that impacts if a student is going to pay rent, if a student is going to get one dining plan or the other.
Or if a student is even going to eat. These things are important, and we need to stop and recognize that. And with that, we shouldn’t assume what the best solution is going to be for every student. There is no blanket option, and that’s why when we bring in the discussion about access codes or these other types of materials, those are chosen with the assumption that this is what’s going to be easier for my student.
That going to an access code, this online thing, that’s what they want, everyone wants online materials. Well, actually the majority of students typically prefer tangible copies, and that adds to the OER argument, because OER one of the best things is you can access it online, you can print it out and use it in person. One reason I’ve always believed it’s a wonderful solution is because it gives students those options.
So, when you’re in these administrative spaces, just make sure that when there is a problem that comes up that students are the ones who point to the solution, that it’s not just that seems great, that sounds great from the pitch I heard from Pearson or McGraw. What do students really think? And then, along with that, give students the materials necessary to make that decision.
But students deserve to have a seat at this table, they deserve to be included in these discussions, and so take it seriously, because it’s really important. And it’s better for the institution from an academic, a learning outcome, from a moral outcome, it’s better for students and better for the institution when students are part of these discussions.
Nikki: And Karen, I can try to do a two-for-one and get both questions in two minutes. So, I think what we continually have to remind our administrators and even our professors to an extent is that today’s student is a different student. So, when we speak about today’s student, there is no more traditional student. So, when you’re focusing on course materials and access and even timing of courses and those things, we are now dealing with students who are trying to fit school into life.
And who aren’t balancing life around school anymore, right? So, whether that’s our single parents, our veterans, our former justice involved youth, it’s a different student and I think we have to be cognizant and aware of that as it relates to these initiatives and what we’re putting forward for our students. I was going to talk about Alexander Astin and go into some student involvement theory but we can do that at the next one.
But what I would want them to know is that our students are largely looking for connection and ways to foster community. And there are opportunities to do that and to continue that work through opportunities like OER. I’m going to chime in to call on Emily Frank to give a one minute little synopsis on some of the things that LOUIS has been doing for OER week, our open education week. Emily is at our LOUIS division.
So, two minutes, I’ll give you one minute, Emily, of my time to just chime into that so we can tackle both questions.
Emily: Yeah, I shared in the chat just a brief highlight, we have a consortium of 47 members, so it is a challenge to coordinate everyone’s schedules for synchronous live activities during open ed week. They may have actions going on on their campus, as well. So, what we’ve had success with in the past is focusing on more asynchronous activities that people can fit into their schedule as time allows.
Something like watching a webinar or reading an article or diving deeper into something, followed by some type of action and that could be an independent action. Or more of a shared collective action, where they share out on a list serve or through social media or somewhere else something that came from that more reflective piece.
Nikki: And from a statewide standpoint, so whatever those initiatives are that LOUIS engages in and provides for open education week, the Board of Regents of course shares. We love social media campaigns, as most of our colleagues do. And so, we’re able to elevate those initiatives on a statewide basis and within our four systems. And also, working with the system that oversees our private universities in the state as well.
And so, I think they’ve done a great job of elevating messaging of working to really garner support and make our campuses and our students, and especially our faculty members which can be a little tougher challenge, but to make them advocates for this work. And I think they’ve done a great job in doing that.
Letícia: Sorry. May I answer? Okay, thank you. Hayley, I really loved your question and this brings into a more in depth point. Your question just shows something that is presumed for students in general, that we are kids, that we don’t know what we are doing, that we don’t have enough skills, enough knowledge and enough political power to make differences. And that’s why we need to make the mechanisms to make our voices heard.
So, your question flags this problem. So, one thing that I wanted to comment on, in case we want to be taken seriously, there are two things that we need to do. First thing, we need to make our organizations have power in social media. So, if there is something that I learned from the many institutions I’m part of is that social media had an advocacy power that you need to have as an ally.
So, the first thing have strong social media profiles, so in case you’re from a student organization and you want to advocate for OER, this is the first step and have multiple types of accounts, for example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and tailor your message depending on the platform that you are, and also in the target public you want to reach, this is very important.
And the second this is about engaging in policymaking processes. It can be with other stakeholders and it can be also the writing of the organization’s own policy documents. An organization without any kind of policy, without any kind of position paper is an organization that doesn’t have a voice that doesn’t have the right to call for action that it doesn’t have a formal statement towards an issue.
So, these two things are really important in case we want to make our voices heard. And in case we internally organize ourselves in that manner, stakeholders will know our message, will know what we desire and will know how to advocate with that.
Karen: Thanks so much Letícia. And we are seconds away from the hour and I think everyone managed to fit in so much, you can tell everybody started accelerating their speech to try and fit in all of the information and share with the community in our limited amount of time. But before we adjourn, please join us in thanking Akanksha, Nikki, Nick and Letícia for joining us today and sharing their expertise and look forward to meeting again and continuing the conversation about open educational practices. Apurva?
Apurva: Thank you so much, I just wanted to pause to see if Akanksha had any final words to share on her part as well. I don’t know if you managed to get the squeeze in in the last two minutes, I know we are at time. I’m okay, Akanksha, to listen to your final words of wisdom before we say goodbye for another month.
Akanksha: Thank you so much, that’s so kind of you. I’ll be really quick here. A quick thing with my comms hat on and my student hat on is that you need to make sure that you’re not using jargon, like open education when you’re talking to students. And give them the actual tools and a language toolkit to be able to self-advocates. So, when I was a student leader, I started this program called the Be Book Smart Fair that we hosted in person during the beginning of the semester.
So, maybe not so great for OE week, but we did it before the add/drop deadline for classes that students could drop three classes if they weren’t getting an affordable textbook. But we gave them templates on how to email their profs to ask for more affordable textbooks. I’ve linked it in the chat box, but it was moved digitally this year and I think it’s well done.
So, my number one tip is try to avoid jargon and meet students where they are, because oftentimes they are on the same side as you, but you’re using words like open education, pedagogy, and they’re thinking I want a free textbook. So, rope them in somehow and keep them in the movement, because that’s exactly how I got here.
Apurva: Thank you so much, Akanksha. I think that comes back to what Nick had shared earlier, too is try to connect students at the core of the issue in ways that you know will really resonate with them. So, I really appreciate your words of wisdom as well. And thank you to Nikki, to Letícia, to Nick, to Akanksha and all of our attendees for this rich conversation today.
I wish we had more time to keep chatting, but it looks like we may need to continue the conversation in the Rebus forum, or maybe at future Office Hours sessions. As always, it’s been a pleasure, so thank you all and I will ask all of our attendees to thank our guests as well. And Karen, did you have any final words?
Karen: Just another thank you.
Apurva: All right, well see you all hopefully next month, everyone. Take care. Bye bye and thank you.
00:13:34 Barbara Thees (she/her): Rebus Community: https://www.rebus.community
00:13:41 Barbara Thees (she/her): Open Education Network: https://open.umn.edu/oen/
00:14:08 Barbara Thees (she/her): Office Hours YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_HCuxp85e36BTNh9ei2QqBL_aqu3Q-F2
00:19:06 Hailey Babb (she/her): Oh, Akanksha! Proud of you! 🙂
00:19:25 Fahim Rahman: Excited to learn about OERs!
00:21:24 Emily Frank: LOUIS loves being part of the Board of Regents team ! 🙂
00:21:33 Barbara Thees (she/her): https://www.louislibraries.org
00:21:47 Esperanza Zenon: Thanks LOUIS for supporting my work with OER
00:22:54 Emily Frank: Thank you for all you do for our students in Louisiana, Esperanza!
00:24:29 Akanksha Bhatnagar (she/her): Nikki!!! So epic!!!
00:25:19 Apurva Ashok: Feel free to begin sharing your questions for Nikki, Akanksha, and our other speakers in the chat. We have plenty of time set aside for questions and discussion with our guests.
00:26:10 Esperanza Zenon: How has Covid impacted the work that all 3 of you do?
00:37:13 Emily Frank: In a previous role, my colleagues and I developed a strong collaboration with student government leadership. But then the year ended, those students graduated, and we started at square one the next year. Do you all have recommendations for building in sustainability and developing longer term relationships when there will naturally be students coming and going?
00:39:28 Hailey Babb (she/her): What is something that you wish faculty/administrators/decision makers knew about the student leadership experience?
00:39:29 Nancy Messina: With Open Education Week coming up, are there any events or promotions that have worked in the past that we could try to do this year?
00:42:31 (he/him) | Lucas Ponte: In the name of InciSioN Global, I am delighted by all the guest. I want to ask how do you work relating open education and the sustainable development goals, with the meaningful youth engagement as a needed background. thank you!
00:44:02 Alexis Carlson: We did controlled digital lending through a gmail account for our physical textbook collection and wonder if anyone is doing this through Overdrive?
00:47:33 Alexandre Santos | NOME IFMSA Brazil: We also had a increase in meaningful projects due to the virtual ambients
00:49:45 Alexis Carlson: Excellent idea!
00:49:47 Emily Frank: I love that one page summary of shared accomplishments!
00:51:59 Fahim Rahman: Me too! Great idea
00:52:27 Tiffany MacLennan: I would have loved a one-pager
00:52:31 Tiffany MacLennan: Or 15 of them
00:54:11 Karen Lauritsen: I thought it was just me!
00:54:19 Jonathan Poritz (he/him): we use clay tablets at my institution….
00:54:30 Karen Lauritsen: 🙂
00:54:36 Nancy Messina: 🙂
01:03:09 Letícia Campos | Center for Research on Open Science (CROSS): Nancy, I would recommend you to take a look in Peer Review Week, that is usually promoted by Elsevier. Another example: Open Education Conference turned really well in 2020, definitely worth looking
01:03:29 Apurva Ashok: @Lucas, your question sounds like it could be another Office Hours session altogether – about OER and the Sustainable Development Goals. We’ve made a note of it. 🙂
01:03:30 Nancy Messina: Thanks!
01:04:07 Emily Frank: Chiming in for what LOUIS has done for Open Ed week – we’ve had success engaging across the consortium by using shared asynchronous activities, so sending out a daily message with something to read or watch to develop a skill or provoke some reflection, following by an action (which could be independent or collective, like sharing out on our listserv)
01:07:18 Jonathan Poritz (he/him): sorry, I’ve got to run … thanks for the wonderful presentations and answers from a great panel!
01:08:38 Nancy Messina: Thanks You! I am going to have to look more into our state resources and see what sort of asynchronous activities we can do. We are really just getting into the student part of this conversation, but we feel it is critical since the Admin wants OER to happen on our campus
01:10:02 Nikki Godfrey: Our student leaders love to speak their language – a Tik Tok challenge about OER was super for them
01:10:31 Nikki Godfrey: We have learned that we have to think outside the box to make things attractive and gain their attention 🙂
01:10:36 Akanksha Bhatnagar (she/her): Another idea is here: https://www.su.ualberta.ca/services/bebooksmart/
01:10:47 Emily Frank: Excellent panel — thank you!
01:11:07 Jeff Kosse: Will this recording be available (sorry, I was detained and came in late)?
01:11:40 Apurva Ashok: Yes, Jeff! Keep an eye out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_HCuxp85e36BTNh9ei2QqBL_aqu3Q-F2
01:12:16 Karen Lauritsen: Thank you, Akanksha, all!
01:12:24 Jeff Kosse: Thanks!
01:12:26 Fahim Rahman: Thank you Akanksha and all!
01:12:31 Tiffany MacLennan: Thanks all! Great to hear from you! 🙂
01:12:41 Akanksha Bhatnagar (she/her): Thanks for having us!! 🙂
01:12:44 Hailey Babb (she/her): Loved this, thanks to all involved! 🙂
01:12:48 Esperanza Zenon: Great conversation!
01:12:56 Victoria: Thanks everyone!
01:13:00 Christine Pawliuk: Thank you! There were a lot of really great ideas here