Watch the video recording of this Open Publishing Fest 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.

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Audio Transcript

Open Publishing Fest: Forming Learning Communities to Support OER Publishing


  • Karen Lauritsen (Publishing Director, Open Education Network)
  • Cheryl Casey (Open Education Librarian, University of Arizona)

Karen: Hello and welcome to the Open Publishing Fest. My name is Karen Lauritsen. I’m the Publishing Director with the Open Education Network. I’m joined by Barb Thees, our Community Manager.

If you’re not familiar with the Open Education Network, or OEN for short, we’re a community of higher education professionals who work together to make education more equitable through open education

We’re based at the University of Minnesota in the United States and you can learn more about us at

Today we’re going to be talking with Cheryl Casey, Open Education Librarian at the University of Arizona. Working with partners on campus, Cheryl formed two learning communities to support OER publishing and open pedagogy at the University of Arizona with a $0 budget.

Cheryl will talk about both the OER professional learning community and the Pressbooks professional learning community as well as share related
resources and suggestions if you’re interested in starting your own.

I have several questions prepared for Cheryl. We welcome your questions as well in the chat and there will be plenty of time afterwards to unmute and continue the conversation. So feel free to drop them in as you think of them or save them for when we come together as a group.

Really, this conversation is meant to be informal. It’s modeled on monthly tea time sessions that we have in the OEN publishing cooperative where we talk about what people are working on or wondering how to solve or anything related to publishing OER.

Before we really get started, I’d like to share a couple of housekeeping details. Live transcription should be enabled. If you’re not seeing it and you want to see it please let us know. Also please know that we’re committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees and we invite you to join us in creating that constructive space. We are recording the session. It will it be available on the OEN YouTube channel later this week as well as included in the Open Publishing Fest archive. So without further ado, I’m going to start chatting with Cheryl.

Cheryl if you could please tell us a little bit about the institutional context at the University of Arizona. What support for OER is like, financial and otherwise, that would be great.

Cheryl: Sure, so I’ve been working on OER initiatives at the University of Arizona since 2014 and I would describe institutional support as a lot of emotional support, but very little financial or personnel support. So our theme is really let’s see what we can do on a shoestring budget. We don’t offer grants. We don’t do course markings. Our Pressbooks service is really self service. I can’t help with editing or design. So we really rely on providing a lot of training materials and using community partners to get things done rather than bodies. (laughs)

So my leadership is very supportive of OER and open access in general, extremely supportive. But yeah, as far as a budget, I’ve never had an ongoing set budget. I can ask for one-time funds for marketing. We’ve done posters or events. So we’ve done the Open Education Network’s style workshops where we paid stipends.

We do have an ongoing budget online for OEN membership and the Pressbooks license which we split with digital learning, another unit on campus. Yeah, so we’ve also pitched OER to donors, but so far they kind of prefer those naming opportunities. They’d rather have their name on a virtual reality room or technology lending program. So it’s been hard to devise a way to pitch OER especially OER publishing, effectively to donors. I know there are other folks who have been able to do that, like Portland State. 

And I’ll just say that my job has really morphed in the seven years that I’ve been working on OER initiatives. I started out as a liaison librarian and OER coordinator and then I had an opportunity to move to a new department where I asked for the title of open education librarian and I envisioned, yay, I’ll be able to work on OER full time. And instead, I became in charge of all course material initiatives, and our ebook program really took up the bulk of my time.

So we did another reorganization this summer and fall. And I’m now aligned with the Schol Comm departments. So my new job description emphasizes OER, Pressbooks, open pedagogy, and C degrees and Z majors. So yeah, we’re still trying to find someone to lead the ebook program but in theory I’ll be able to focus more heavily on those things. So I’m excited about that.

Karen: Yeah, I can see why. And so with that background it sounds like it’s a lot of what inspired you to create learning communities. Not a lot of bodies. Not a lot of budget. Can you tell us more about that?

Cheryl: Yeah, you know I’ve been involved in a lot of different groups on campus that weren’t exactly learning communities, but they were networks. And it’s how I had built a lot of my campus partnerships with instructional designers or our IT folks, faculty who were teaching and learning with technology. And we had formed an OER action committee and my co-chair within the office of teaching and learning said, hey there are these faculty learning communities on campus. What do you think about starting an OER one?

And so we approached them and started it up to see how it would work. It seemed like a scalable way to reach more people. It had hit-and-miss success with workshops and training sessions.

You know, we would try to time things with Open Access Week and Open Education Week, but those would bump up against homecoming or spring break. And so, yeah you know this semester I tried drop-in sessions. That’s a big thing for other people in my new department.

And so I’ve been offering to our OER Pressbooks drop-in sessions twice a month. And so far I’ve had zero attendees. So I don’t think the drop-in format really lends itself well to OER and Pressbooks support because people tend to be very collaborative. And so they want to meet in groups and they want to meet immediately. They don’t want to wait until the next two-week session. So we’re gonna resume the learning community in the spring. We had put it on pause for sabbatical in the reorg.

Karen: Great! A can we just really sort of zoom in on when we say learning community, what specifically we mean? You’ve mentioned, oh we don’t have drop-in sessions. Those aren’t very successful. Oh, workshops, hit-or-miss. How are learning communities different?

Cheryl: So, learning communities on my campus are a very formal thing organized through faculty affairs. And so, they had a coordinator. They had their own listservs and mechanisms for sign-ups and publicity. And so it was great to be able to leverage that power since I didn’t really have those resources.

Now they call theirs faculty learning communities. And we want it to be broader than that because we have a lot of instructional designers interested in OER and publishing, a lot of program managers. I was hoping liaison librarians would join. So yeah, we wanted to make it much broader than a faculty learning community. So that did require kind of a separate meeting to say, okay can we call ours a professional learning community?

Karen: And so, they have a structure, it sounds like. You don’t have to sort of invent what it means. Is that typical or is that unique, do you think, to the University of Arizona? I don’t know if people wanna chime in in the chat too, with that question, but Cheryl, do you happen to know?

Cheryl: I don’t know. You know, Karen Pikula has done some great sessions and has recordings on the OEN YouTube sites about University of Minnesota State’s learning community. And theirs this very formal. They offer stipends.

We didn’t even have a budget for food. You’d get a letter from the Vice Dean of faculty affairs that says, yeah, you participated. And so you can count it as continual professional development, continual education.

For me as the co-leader, I also got a letter that went to my supervisor and Dean, and I was able to include that in my promotion dossier. So that was the perk we got, a letter that said, hey thanks for participating.

Karen: Great, and thanks to everyone who’s sharing their experiences. It sounds like some do and some don’t have formal infrastructures for learning communities. Good luck with the grant, really.

Cheryl: Yeah, that’s exciting.

Karen: Yeah. So thank you for telling us why you wanted to call them professional learning communities to be more inclusive. Was there resistance when you brought that to the group, or you mentioned it was a discussion?

Cheryl: No, they were enthusiastic about having a different type of learning community. And we operated on a different schedule. The other learning communities tended to be focused on a particular book. We had a different curriculum that we developed on our own. And for the OER community we met monthly for one hour. For the Pressbooks we met weekly during the summer for an hour. So that was on a different schedule than the other FLCs, but it worked for us.

Karen: Great, and can you talk more about who you selected to partner and work with on forming those communities and why?

Cheryl: Yeah, for the OER learning community I partnered with a nutritional sciences professor that I’ve been working with on the Z major

For the Pressbooks learning community in summer of 2020, I partnered with a digital learning technologist in our digital learning unit which pays for half of the Pressbooks license. And so we are co-admins of Pressbooks and it was great to partner with each of them. They each have different skill sets and knew different people on campus. So that was great to leverage.

Yeah, it’s a little more work to co-lead a learning community, I think, in terms of planning. And you know, who’s gonna do what? And who’s gonna send out the announcements? But I highly recommend it just to have those different perspectives there to lead the group.

Karen: And did I hear you right, that you’re sharing the administrative responsibilities of running the Pressbooks for instance? So what does that, how do you decide who’s gonna do what?

Cheryl: Yeah that was an adventure. We launched Pressbooks at the U of A in summer during the midst of a pandemic. And it was kind of like, oh, in your spare time watch this open network. So we were flying by the seat of our pants and Chris and I worked together to get the site all set up and to really load it up with as many resources as possible since we do operate it as kind of a self service model.

So the idea was, with the learning community for Pressbooks, let’s offer a beginning session and an advanced session and we’ll just kind of see who might be interested. And so we had some carryover from the OER learning community. But some new folks we had no idea were interested. And so that was really interesting.

Karen: Mm-hmm. Capture a new audience. So with these two learning communities and the Pressbooks instance and, hey, you’re launching this surprise. Well maybe it wasn’t a surprise, but it was certainly another big lift during a difficult time in 2020. What sort of goals did you have for OER publishing? Was it more, let’s see where this goes? Or were there sort of a number of books that you wanted to have published? What were you thinking about in terms of outcomes? 

Cheryl: Yeah, we didn’t have a goal for number of books. But we were mostly looking for a way to do a soft launch of Pressbooks during a pandemic with our limited bandwidth. We didn’t want to do a big publicity blitz. We wanted to start with a small group of people to do a deep dive into Pressbooks and really surface people that we weren’t aware of on campus who were interested in OER and publishing.

So the faculty affairs learning community, you know, their marketing power really helped uncover people that weren’t on our radar before. So that was great. It really helped form a community of practice for people.

And for Chris and me, doing it kind of on the heels of the launch, it really forced us to get more familiar with Pressbooks because we were trying to teach people how to use it. So each week we were really, like I said, flying by the seat of our pants and coming up with curriculum and resources to share, and trying to figure out things as we went.

But we also used the learning community as a way for people to share their expertise like in LaTeX or in H5P. So that was helpful.

We tried to save time each session for a lot of Q and A where people could say, this is a challenge that I’m having, can anybody help with this? And sometimes it would require following up after the session and sending out to you know, here’s some resources we found.

I’ll say that I compiled all of the resources from our Pressbooks learning community in a Google folder. I’ll put the link in the chat. So this has our agendas. It has the invitation, has PowerPoint slides, emails with resources. So feel free to adapt anything you find in there.

Karen: Super! Thanks for sharing that, Cheryl. You’ve talked a little bit about the professional learning communities and how they worked. Are there any other nuts and bolts that we haven’t talked about so far that you think would be helpful to share in addition to not having a food budget?

Cheryl: Well, when we met in person we scheduled it during lunch and we called it an OER brown bag learning community. So that’s how we got around the food question. I’m sorry folks, you get to bring your own lunch. With the PressBooks learning community, it happened during the pandemic so it was all in Zoom. So we didn’t need a food budget. 

We chose hour-long sessions because I think shorter is better for really busy faculty and staff on campus. We recorded all of the sessions because inevitably there was somebody who wouldn’t be able to attend, and said, Hey I want the recording. Let’s see, we had a lot of people sign up who didn’t end up coming and that’s okay. You know, it was a small, but mighty group on a regular basis. We had 40 people sign up for the beginning Pressbooks session. And I would say about a quarter of those attended regularly.

Karen: The same quarter I presume?

Cheryl: For the most part, but then there were others. Scheduling is just so challenging. There’s just really no good time for faculty that I’ve found. We’ve tried Fridays. We’ve tried midweek. We’ve tried lunchtime. We’ve tried mornings, afternoons. There’s just really no good time except to try and make it consistent so that people can plan for it.

Karen: Did you have a sense that anyone was trying to participate asynchronously?

Cheryl: No not really. I think the follow-up emails were well read because people would dive in and pick and choose the resources that they were most interested in. But no, I think people tried to be there live when they could.

And for some of the training resources I’ll say it was helpful to be able to leverage other workshop materials and training materials that I already created. I just sort of boiled them into bite-size chunks. So that helped with the scalability to be able to repurpose some of the previous materials I’ve created.

Karen: Absolutely. Were there any surprises?

Cheryl:  You know, I was pleasantly surprised by the interest and enthusiasm. Some of our workshops and trainings, the turnout had been kind of disappointing. So, I was happy that 40 people signed up for OER, or the Pressbooks, learning community.

One of the biggest surprises was that it really ended up shaping my sabbatical last semester and my current research. One of the people who signed up for the Pressbooks learning community was an iSchool professor named Diana Daly. And she got so excited about Pressbooks and open pedagogy. She completely redesigned her syllabus for the next fall. And she had students work on creating content for a Pressbooks project, an open textbook called Humans R Social Media.

And we devised surveys to find out about the impact on their learning outcomes and what they liked about open pedagogy and Pressbooks, what they didn’t like about it. And so that became my sabbatical project. And we presented at two conferences, we’ve done an extended abstract that we’ve published, and now we’re working on papers. So it really changed, I think for both of us, sort of the trajectory of research and collaboration. And she wasn’t on my radar at all before the learning community.

Karen: It’s really exciting to make that connection and have it take you in this new direction and connect with a faculty member. That sounds like a major benefit of launching these programs along with what you mentioned earlier which was reaching a broader audience than you had previously with your OER outreach. Are there any other benefits that you’d like to highlight?

Cheryl: You know, some of the folks who participated invited us afterward to present to their colleges or to their colleagues. So it did lead to other training sessions. I think it did help with the scalability and with the soft launch to be able to focus on a small group and kind of work through. Okay these are the issues people are having with OER publishing and Pressbooks. These are the services they’re asking for that we don’t offer. So how are we going to deal with this?

With Diana, we worked together to develop an MOU for the students based on what’s in the Pub101 MOU. And she really worked to enhance that and give students a lot of autonomy in terms of how they wanted to be named, or if they wanted to be named. Did they want to use their real name or a pseudo name or anonymous, or not be named? Or did they not want to include their content at all?

And for this latest semester it’s even on an assignment-by-assignment basis that she’s giving them autonomy in what to share openly. So yeah, there’ve been multiple benefits to doing this.

Karen: Yeah, it really sounds like it. How is this program going to continue or are there things that you’re going to tweak? Or what does it look like going forward?

Cheryl: Yeah we’re going to resume in the spring and I’ll have a new co-leader. Chris has unfortunately left the university for another job at Tufts, but one of my library colleagues joined digital learning and she’s now going to be the co-admin for Pressbooks. So this’ll be a way for her to build expertise in Pressbooks and OER. So that’ll be great to have another collaborator on campus who’s deeply involved in this.

Format wise, I think we’re going try more of a flipped classroom approach now that we sort of have a curriculum that we’re not building on the fly. We can kind of prepare more to send out readings or videos or resources in advance to talk about and to try to make the sessions more interactive.

The approach that we did it the first time with the recent launch of Pressbooks was more of a training. You know, here’s how you get started because it was so new to all of us. But now that there’s a cohort of people who are more experienced with Pressbooks and publishing, I think that’ll affect the learning community.

Karen: Yeah, more of a network of support.

Cheryl:  Right.

Karen: Speaking of a network of support, as an OER librarian and one who really I think, correct me if I’m wrong, sort of entered into publishing as many of our colleagues do, as a little bit of a surprise or without much of a publishing background and flying by the seat of your pants, as you said. How have you found support from other colleagues or communities? You mentioned Karen Pikula’s work with learning communities. Have there been other support mechanisms for you that maybe would be useful for others as well?

Cheryl: (I’ll see if my video will not make my internet unstable again.) Yeah, I mean the OEN is always a great source of support. The listserv is super helpful for all kinds of different things. The video series that are available on YouTube with the Rebus and OEN, all of those sessions are great idea great places to get ideas and inspiration.

Internally, now that I’m aligned with the Schol Comm unit, there’s a copyright librarian who’s now my supervisor and she’s available to consult on OER projects. She filled in for me while I was on sabbatical and ended up helping quite a few people with their OER publishing projects. So I feel like I have more personnel help now. So yeah, we’re talking about possibly leveraging iSchool students either through GA ships or through internships. So that could be a possibility in the future. Yeah, anyway we can do it without more money, without more people.

Karen: Well, I have one more question for Cheryl. So if you have questions out there, things you would like to know from Cheryl or one another in this call, please start thinking about them or dropping them in the chat. Cheryl, a little bit ago, dropped in that Google drive folder which has a bunch of really helpful content for forming a Pressbooks learning community. And she invited all of you to adapt that. Barb has dropped in a link for Office Hours which Cheryl mentioned, and then I’m also dropping in a link for an MOU that Cheryl mentioned which is adaptable if you are engaging in OER publishing.

So my last question, formal question, for you Cheryl today is how has your experience so far at the University of Arizona, how might it inform our work as an OER publishing community?

Cheryl: I think there were several lessons learned. One is that it’s a long game. And so you never know what seeds you’re planting. Also I’ll say that with our liaisons, you know, I had hoped that some of them would join the learning community. I’ve still tried to continue to involve them in trainings and get them interested. It’s been a slow process, but just recently one of the liaisons said, hey I’d like to do an OER project for sabbatical. Like whoa, yeah! That was seven years in the making. Awesome! So yeah, it’s a long game.

I think, you know, these learning communities are a way to surface people that maybe aren’t on your radar, and at the large university like ours where it’s really hard to know who’s doing OER. I find out about new resources that people have developed all the time on their own. So that was helpful.

Yeah, it was just a way to, when you have zero budget, you have to be kind of creative in ways to scale. So I think it was an effective way to scale building a community of practice and also working in some training, also developing our own skills. Because it’s hard when you’re wearing multiple hats to really dedicate. Okay, I’m going to block out time to learn how to use Pressbooks and work through the Pub101 curriculum. But when you’re forced to teach someone else, you make the time.

Karen: There’s something on the line, yeah.

Cheryl: Yeah. I think it really helps to partner and build campus partnerships. So building that network and really leveraging people who have different skillsets and networks than you do.

So, in Chris’s case, she was an instructor. She had piloted H5P, she had piloted hypothesis and could really speak to all of that integration with Pressbooks which was great. With the nutritional sciences professor, you know, she was an instructor and really could speak to open pedagogy. We also leveraged partners from our office of disability resources. And the head of digital learning also came in and talked about how she used open pedagogy. So it was nice to have those guest speakers come in and bring different perspectives as well.

Karen: Well thank you, Cheryl. It’s great to learn from you and your programs and how you’ve worked with other people to expand your reach. And I really appreciate your comment about the long game, and feel like it relates to what John said in the chat about leading learning communities and feeling like there’s not a lot of participation. That can be really hard when you build and lead programs and are sort of looking for some sort of secret sauce, or you know, sometimes it is just time as you were saying, Cheryl. So thank you for your time today.

We have plenty of time for conversations and questions. So, this is when I pause and invite any of you to unmute and ask what’s on your mind or go ahead and share it in the chat.

Jenise: I have a question and…oh, Amy put her hand up. Amy, I think you should go first because you have better etiquette. (laughter)

Amy: I was going to say you should go first.

Karen: Well, you’re still unmuted, Amy. I don’t know…. This is a facilitator issue. I should have given much more definitive guides.

Amy: Okay I’m gonna jump in. So Cheryl, it’s really interesting for me to hear a couple of points that you touched on about. I guess I’m just hearing information about your organizational culture like, you know, impact in your promotion dossier or a letter that faculty could receive. And I’m just wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that because I’m thinking also about something you didn’t talk about, but that I’ve noticed, which is how much you participate at the national level with committee work and training other librarians and mentorship. And it makes me wonder, maybe you’re also getting recognition for that from your organization. So I’m just kind of wondering more about that culture on your campus.

Cheryl: Yeah, you know I have to say I’m lucky that I get a lot of autonomy in my organization and I try to keep people informed about what I’m doing, but it doesn’t always stick. And so I kind of had to laugh when my dean sent me a link to the signups for the Certificate in OER Librarianship and asked if I would be interested. And I said, actually I was involved in creating the curriculum. I’ve been an instructor for the last few years. So yeah, you have to do a lot of repeat information sharing of what’s learned before it sticks.

Yeah, you know participating in the listservs is such a great way to learn and to kind of pay it back to the community. For our dossiers, we would include comments from customers. And so, I was able to include some of the email comments. It said  thank you for sharing these resources. So yeah, that was helpful I think in the dossier packet. I don’t feel like I answered your question well, though, Amy. What was the other piece to it?

Amy: Well, I think you did. Just kind of more about that culture of recognition, and it seems like you’re leveraging that in the absence of funding. I just think about how my brief really doesn’t have anything to do with demonstrating national impact, or impact at all. I don’t have anything that looks like a dossier in my current role. It’s really different from what it looked like when I was on a library faculty.

And so it’s just kind of changed my perspective. And it seems like you’re sort of finding a channel within your organizational culture to, as you say, use that autonomy but then also to be able to sort of play it back into what the organization recognizes. That’s kind of what I was hearing.

Cheryl: Yeah, and I’ll say that, you know, as far as OER work, our dean is currently leading the task force to spell out OER work and open access work in promotion dossiers. Right now we have kind of an inclusive view of scholarship, as they call it. You can make the case for OER work, but it’s really up to you to make the case for your impact. And so when I work with faculty in our current system, that’s what I advise them.

You know, how has this impacted your students’ community? Really make that case and your dossier. And hopefully we’ll get it explicitly called out in the guidelines, but until then I think people can make a case for it on their own in both service and scholarship.

Karen: Thanks for that great question, Amy. Jenise, thanks for raising your hand!

Jenise: How to do it right! That was such a good question and so helpful.

So my question is about, what are your impact metrics for this particular, for your learning community? How are you conveying it? I know it sounds like you run it, like cycle through once, is that right? I don’t know if that makes sense to think about it that way, but if it were a cohort, maybe there’s been one cohort and you’re about to launch into the second. I’m interested in how you’re communicating the impact of this to your admins.

Cheryl: Yeah, well I really focused on the relationships that it led to, especially the Humans R Social Media project which, as it stands now, is the University of Arizona’s only publicly released Pressbooks project. We’ve got hundreds in the works, but that’s the only one that’s been finished and released. So, you know, that was a big impact. I, next time, should do a survey of participants as far as you know, how did this help you? What did you think? How could it be improved? We didn’t do that with either one. And I’d love to hear what other people would recommend  using as metrics.

As Karen said at the outset, we didn’t really even have a goal for how many books we want to publish. Since we can offer so little support, it’s really up to the community to do it on their own. And with Diana, she fortunately had an outside grant to help her hire students and to really get that textbook going. I have another group that has a USDA grant for nutritional sciences OER. But without internal grants, you know, it really limits, I think, our publishing efforts. And I’m actually okay with that because of my bandwidth. 

I’ve had people come and say, hey can you help me apply for the Department of Education textbook grant? And I’ve had to say no. There’s just no way I would have the bandwidth to support that. So starting small, and keeping our fingers crossed that maybe someday we’ll get more resources.

Jenise: Yeah, I can relate to all of that and that’s exactly why I asked. We don’t have learning communities here at Marymount, but I’m trying to do a curation cohort. Especially when it takes, I think, a few… so for us we’re still really focusing on adoption. We’re not focusing on publication at all. Well, not to say not at all, but it’s not the emphasis. So, you know, I polled people. I surveyed to see what we can do better next time.

And I think that the adoption component, if they adopt, sometimes it’s like a year later. So I think, thinking in the short term and trying to, like we were able to give a really really really small stipend to people that did that curation sprint. And I’m like, okay I would like that money again please, because it did help. And I need to communicate why that was so helpful. So I think thinking through these things and just hearing you talk about it is super helpful. So thank you.

Cheryl: Oh good!

Karen: Amy had a question for you, Jenise, in the chat. You mentioned a curation cohort and curation sprint. Can you talk a little bit more about what those are?

Jenise: Yes, and it looks like also Philip has a question, so I don’t want to take up all the time.

Amy, that’s a great question. It’s a made up thing that I made up, is the answer. So I have the good fortune of being located in Virginia. So I’ve gotten to do a lot of work with VIVA and I worked on a project where we as librarians, as a committee, did some curation and then mapping to transfer courses across the state. So that project led to me doing a very small scale version of that here at Marymount where I invited faculty from high enrollment, first-year liberal arts core, which is our gen ed branding, to participate in a curation sprint with the hope [of] curating materials. 

The disciplinary faculty are curating materials for these first-year high enrollment courses. The incentive is just to curate and get together, and kind of co-learn. So it’s like a two-day sprint, six hours each day. It’s as much about building. To me, it’s like seeding a community and then following up with them, seeing if they adopt. 

But that pressure was not to adopt; it was just to curate, if that makes any sense. I’ll put a link in the chat to Sophie Rondo [who] did a curation toolkit that I’ll link you to. We just did a presentation at Virginia Library Association and I will put the link to those slides in the chat as well. I swear this is not a plug for my scholarship. Okay.

Karen: Thank you! And thank you for the links in advance.

So Phillip asks in the chat, can an institutional support for OER help to convince more people within your institution that OER is a way to go? Or is the support more for the ones who are already convinced that OER is the way to go? So I think, Philip, feel free to step in and clarify. I think what you’re asking is if the groundswell for OER is coming from sort of faculty who are sort of already on board. And if not, if having institutional support could help with that? Do we have that right Phillip?

Cheryl: Yeah, I’ll say that institutional support has been a challenge. You know, we made the pitch for Z degrees and Z majors to our new president and administration a few years ago when they were redesigning the strategic plan, and there were crickets. There was no interest. And so we’ve been working  from the bottom up.

 I’ve done presentation after presentation to various administrators about OER, and this summer I got an email from one saying, wow, I just read about this OER thing in Inside Higher Ed or Chronicle. This sounds really cool. We should do this! And those are always kind of challenging to deal with. Like, hey that’s a great idea. This is what we’ve been doing, and remember our meeting?

But that’s why I say it takes a lot of repetition, and you just don’t know which presentation it will finally, like, spark. Okay now I’m connecting the dots. And now I’m understanding what you’re saying. So yeah, I think at a lot of other institutions there’s much more support at the administrative level than we have.

The head of digital learning got involved with Pressbooks when the Open Education Conference happened to be in Phoenix. And I invited her and she brought a ton of people, instructional designers in her unit, to the conference. And she happened to attend a Pressbooks session and got all excited about possibilities for her own teaching. And I said I’ve loved Pressbooks for years. I just don’t have the budget for it. We have a university press that’s within the library. They had an open access book publishing grant through Mellon, but they were using the Manifold system and it didn’t, I think, lend itself as well to being a self-service publishing system as Pressbooks does. We really went with Pressbooks because of the support in the existing resources for training and videos.

And so when she said she was interested and she had money, that’s what led to this partnership which has taken off in other ways. So finding those partners wherever they exist, whether they’re at the administrative level or the faculty level, it tends to lead to good things. So you know, I try to remind myself when turnouts are low that it’s not really the numbers. It takes, you know, one person. Diana led to our one, so far, Pressbooks publishing project. So it doesn’t take big numbers to have an impact. And you really never know when that seed is gonna sprout and take root.

Karen: Are you finding that there is any word-of-mouth traction among faculty?

Cheryl: There is, yeah! It spread in our new college of veterinary medicine where we’re working on a Z degree. So far we’ve been doing it mostly with library licensed eBooks, but now there’s interest in creating materials in OER, or materials in Pressbooks. So this semester there’s a class that’s using it. They’re not openly licensed materials, but they created a curriculum in Pressbooks that’s being used in the class. So hopefully that will lead to open down the road.

For now we’re letting people really experiment and just providing as many resources as we can. And I really have to credit the Pub101 curriculum. I went through that training with Karen and that was an excellent foundation for learning the steps of our publishing. I went through that curriculum before we had Pressbooks.

And I remember telling Karen, I don’t know if we’re ever gonna be able to support OER publishing. And then, you know, the Phoenix Open Ed Conference happened and all of a sudden we had Pressbooks. And it was summer 2020 and Chris and I were told, make it happen somehow. And so we did, and you know, it led to the learning community.

So, you just never know when opportunities are going to arise. So just kind of preparing yourself as well as you can. And I really really appreciate all of the Pub101 resources for doing that.

Karen: That’s great to hear. Are you responding to Amy’s note in the chat?

Cheryl: I see in the chat Amy’s comment about, yeah. Am I cutting out again? Sorry, I’ll turn my video off again. I’m getting a note that I’m unstable.

No becoming not yet, that’s true. No is just a word that I’ve had to get used to. And I love Karen Bjork’s presentations on saying no that she’s done at various conferences because I think that has to be part of our vocabulary with OER publishing. I don’t know of anybody who has as much personnel or as much funding as they’d like to have. And so, you know, we really have to say this is what we can do. This is what we’d like to do and could do with more resources, but realistically, this is what we can do and what we can support. It’s hard.

Karen: It is hard. And I think having these communities of support is such a big deal. And knowing where you can go to ask questions or share frustrations, or you know, lament about hearing no yet again and having someone remind you that it might be not yet is really helpful.

And also, as you said Cheryl, I think for administrators to hear about OER not only repeatedly, but from many different channels, because some channels grab the ears of certain people more effectively than other channels. And I think that’s one reason why amplifying and sharing the work that we all do in higher education is also really helpful.

I dropped the Pub101 curriculum link in the chat. That’s a great way I think to also find adaptable resources if you are starting a program. We are looking at the Pub101 curriculum right now. We formed a new committee to make sure that it’s updated and revised to reflect all of the things that you’re working on in OER publishing, and we’ll offer a new synchronous experience in the spring. So if you are a member of the OEN, look for that.

Amy is dashing off to her next meeting. Thank you for joining us, Amy. We’re getting close to the end of the hour. So if you have any additional questions for Cheryl, drop them in the chat. In the meantime I will begin with our closing comments, but slowly, in case there is another question.

Again thank you for joining us, and thank you for joining, Cheryl Casey. She’s the open education librarian at the University of Arizona and this is part of Open Publishing Fest. This is the second week. There are presentations about publishing openly from all over the world. So hopefully we can see you at future sessions. There’s another OEN session tomorrow we can find there on the calendar of events that Barb just dropped in the chat.

So I haven’t seen any more questions come in. I don’t think there are any raised hands. Feel free to interrupt me and tell me I’m wrong. So without further ado, thank you again for joining us, and farewell.


Chat Transcript

00:13:59 Amy Hofer: Good morning from Portland OR 🙂
00:14:11 Barb Thees, she/her: Open Education Network:
00:14:25 Philipp Zumstein: Good evening from Mannheim, Germany
00:14:37 Cheryl Casey: Wow! Thanks for joining from Germany
00:15:23 Cheryl Casey: I’d love to hear your ideas for learning communities. Does anyone currently have one?
00:18:57 Jenise Overmier: Me too Cheryl
00:19:19 Jenise Overmier: We should talk offline 🙂
00:23:46 Jenise Overmier: we don’t have infrastructure for this but we are a small private college…
00:23:51 Gabby Hernandez: Our Center for Teaching Excellence at UTRGV has formalized faculty learning communities.
00:24:18 Lily Dubach: At the University of Central Florida, we just submitted an internal grant-like opportunity to receive continued funding to support OER adoption/adaption/authorship. We will find out this month if it is granted.
00:24:37 Barb Thees, she/her: OER Learning Circles presentation with Karen Pikula:
00:25:05 Jenise Overmier: thank you Barb!
00:27:27 Barb Thees, she/her: You’re so welcome, Jenise! 🙂 They’re doing really great things over at Minnesota State
00:29:28 Jalyn Warren: Community College of Philadelphia has Learning Communities through our Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. I won a faculty fellowship and led an OER Learning Community during Fall 2019/Spring 2020. Currently, I am leading another OER Learning Community focused around High-Impact Practices. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of participation.
00:30:42 Cheryl Casey:
00:41:20 Barb Thees, she/her: Recordings of OEN-Rebus Community Office Hours sessions:
00:42:01 Karen Lauritsen: Here’s the MOU that’s in Pub101:
00:43:09 Amy Hofer: That’s amazing!
00:48:30 Amy Hofer: Oh jeez
00:51:28 Amy Hofer: Thanks, this is interesting!
00:53:04 Karen Lauritsen: Here’s Humans R Social Media:
00:54:07 Philipp Zumstein: Q: Can an institutional support for OER help to convince more people within your institution for OER or is the support more for the ones convinced with OER already?
00:54:56 Amy Hofer: What is a curation cohort?
00:57:44 Amy Hofer: Thank you!
00:58:33 Jenise Overmier: this was Sphie’s SPARC capstone project
00:58:34 Jenise Overmier:
00:59:01 Philipp Zumstein: yes
00:59:33 Jenise Overmier: here’s the link to the presentation that a few others and myself did at month at VLA:
01:00:37 Jenise Overmier: if you skip to slide 25, I discuss the toolkit and the MU ‘use case’ aka the curation sprint
01:00:43 Jenise Overmier: happy to chat about it @amy
01:00:51 Jenise Overmier:
01:02:29 Philipp Zumstein: Thank you!
01:02:39 Amy Hofer: Thanks Jenise
01:02:56 Amy Hofer: Cheryl you have so many good examples of “no” really being “not yet”
01:04:16 Karen Lauritsen: Pub101 curriculum:
01:06:49 Amy Hofer: Thanks, I have to get to my next meeting! So nice to hear more about your work Cheryl
01:06:57 Cheryl Casey: Thanks for coming, Amy!
01:07:05 Cristen Ross: this was a GREAT session, thank you, so informative!!!
01:07:21 Jenise Overmier: Agree^
01:07:24 Liz Thompson: thanks Cheryl!
01:07:25 Gabby Hernandez: Thank you so much! This was wonderful!
01:07:28 Jalyn Warren: Thank you for this information!
01:07:33 Jenise Overmier: Cheryl this was so helpful and encouraging 🙂
01:07:37 Cheryl Casey: Thanks so much for joining us!
01:07:39 Barb Thees, she/her: Open Publishing Fest calendar of events: