How to start
When starting any new initiative as a student society, it is important to recognize that there are likely already faculty, staff, or librarians on your campus who care about an issue as much as you. This is also an issue that provides incentives and benefits to all groups on campus. Before starting to work on an OER campaign in isolation, an indispensable first step is to conduct a scan of the advocates and initiatives that already exist at your institution. This could include:
- Faculty who engage in open educational practices in their courses;
- Staff at teaching and learning centres who offer resources and professional development for faculty who wish to adopt open educational practices;
- Librarians who encourage faculty to adopt open resources in place of traditional ones;
- Administrators who are interested in making open education part of your university’s strategic goals.
If you already know of one or more such people, approach them and ask about the work they are doing, and ask them to connect you with other advocates. If you don’t know where to start, you might try reaching out to the broader OER network beyond your institution, as they likely have connections with advocates in your community. Regional organizations that have open education as part of their mandate (e.g. California OER Council, California Community Colleges) can be a good place to start.
Student PIRGS also has many great advocacy resources.
Once you have conducted this scan, some things to reflect on include:
- What is some work already being done that could use an extra boost?
You may find that many advocates have ideas for things they want to start, but they need an extra boost that can come from students expressing their passion about an issue. Talk to these advocates to encourage them to get started implementing their ideas, and offer to help in any ways you can.
- Who needs to be brought together that is working alone?
Students, especially student leaders, have access to people in all areas of the university, who may be working in silos. You may find that people in all areas have similar interests but are not working as closely together as they could, and one key role students can play is bringing all of these advocates together.
- After you consider the above, where are the remaining gaps?
Once you have determined how you can augment and build upon existing work and ideas, you can look for the remaining gaps that you can fill by starting new projects and initiatives. The next section contains some ideas for that.