Tips for Bringing OER to Your University, Institution, or School

In our OER series, we’ve explored how cost-friendly open educational resources (OER) can replace the expense of traditional textbooks. We’ve looked at where to find OER as well as how to choose quality materials. By now, you’re probably wondering how to bring OER into your institution.

Sharing OER With Your Institution

You’re fired up after researching the benefits of OER. You want to use OER in your upcoming course. You’ve done your research to support your case using in-depth data about various aspects of OER.

And then you slam headfirst into the wall.

Someone in your department or administration just doesn’t “get it.” They question the value of OER, struggle with the quality and copyright of OER materials, or just fear the time and effort to implement OER into the classroom.

This wall doesn’t have to be a roadblock.

A Model to Bring Support for OER into Your Institution

In order to bring support for OER into your institution, you have to start with building awareness and buy-in among key stakeholders. As our Lead Instructional Designer Tara explains it, the model below looks “at developing scaffolds to address peer-collaboration to develop curriculum or elements of the curriculum (or other OER materials/resources) as well as efforts to support instructor and student collaborative efforts in learning and co-creation efforts.” This institutional collaboration drives the adoption of OER.

  1. Develop relationships: Relationships with the right people on your campus or in your institution allow you to create conversations about OER. Obviously, these people will vary by institution, but OER is often more familiar to those in disciplines such as the hard sciences. We’ve found our librarians on campus to be OER champions.
  2. Promote OER to your colleagues: Once you’ve built relationships with others interested in OER, you have a network. This network works like word-of-mouth marketing; it will continually expand and increase into a movement for OER adoption.
  3. Encourage professional development: Practical, hands-on training gives faculty a model for how to increase the use of OER on the classroom—so provide examples of how other instructors successfully adopted OER. A great example to share with your faculty is Robin DeRosa, a professor at Plymouth State University, who worked with her students to research, design, and edit the open textbook “The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature.”
  4. Increase digital fluency: You’ll need to help instructors and students become fluent with using the digital tools needed for the creation and curation of quality OER content. For example, you can have education students use open source tools and open repositories to develop lesson plans. By doing this, they build familiarity with adapting open tools and resources that they’ll use as professional teachers.

Building on this model will give you the buy-in and momentum that you need to implement OER into your institution.

How We’re Encouraging the Adoption of OER in Our University

Early on, we researched open educational resources and how OER would work in our university. We built an eLearning module using only OER materials and tools. After we presented our research and course at the 2017 MI OER Summit, we shared our findings at a symposium at our university—and we found some interest in OER.

Now, we’re recommending OER to programs that can benefit from using OER resources. We’re exploring how to partner with our university library. And we plan to continue to encourage OER awareness and adoption on our campus.

Final Thoughts

As educators, we know that textbook prices continue to rise and trends move quicker than publishers can crank out new editions. Whether you’re in the very early days or you’ve seen some momentum, a model that helps build OER awareness and adoption will help you gain traction to bring it to your institution as a cost-friendly and relevant solution.

Do the key influencers of your institution know about OER? How have you partnered with other departments? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.


i-Safe Ventures Digital Learning. Counting the cost of free: An in-depth view of oer. Retrieved from:

Author: Jessica Bishop, Instructional Designer

Jessica is a designer and writer focused on learnability, storytelling, sensemaking, wayfinding, and removing barriers to learning. A Michigan native, she likes crafting, reading, walking, and spending way too much time in the distant corners of the internet. You can also find her at

One thought on “Tips for Bringing OER to Your University, Institution, or School”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: