Creating My First OER

by Ursula Pike, Associate Director, DigiTex

In August 2020, I joined SPARC’s Open Education Leadership Program. The year-long program provided me the opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge of Open Educational Resources and interact with many of the leaders of the Open Education Movement.* I was also required to develop an Open Educational Resource as a capstone for the program. I wanted to create a resource focused on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, but, honestly, I wasn’t sure how to turn that interest into an OER. Fortunately, I had two amazing mentors, Dr. Tanya Spilovoy (Director of Open Policy for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) and Dr. Regina Gong (OER and Student Success Librarian at Michigan State University), who helped me understand that I could create a unique project built on my strengths and interests.

“wocintech stock – 73” by WOCinTech Chat is licensed CC BY 2.0

OERigin Stories is the project I ultimately created with the help of my mentors and six inspiring women. The idea for the project came from presentations by Dr. Gong at OpenEd Conferences focusing on women of color in OER. I interviewed women of color working in a variety of areas in the Open Education Movement and asked each of them how they became involved with Open Education and what they saw as the future of the movement. The stories they told were incredible; and I was excited to share their insights with my mentors, SPARC, and coworkers at DigiTex in the resulting openly licensed document.

But I knew I had to do more. The oral histories in OERigin Stories deserve to be showcased in a more accessible, readable document and shared with a larger group. The resource was created in a Google Doc, an acceptable platform for OER, but I wanted something that was easier to read.   Many OER, such as DigiTex’s Texas Learn OER, are created on websites such as Google Sites. However, a website didn’t seem to be a good fit for the text-heavy oral history in my project. Ultimately, I decided to use the Pressbooks platform because many of the Open textbooks I’ve found easiest to navigate, such as Open at the Margins, were made in Pressbooks. But there are many viable alternatives. Anyone interested in creating an OER should look at Abbey Elder’s Commercial Platforms that Utilize OER Assessment Tool to compare the options.

As I build the project plan for OERigin Stories publication, I’ve found The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far) an invaluable tool. The guide reminds me to always be thinking about accessibility and the importance of building a team of individuals to support the publishing process.

My goal is to publish OERigin Stories in the fall. Once I’ve completed the process, I will return with a blog post detailing the ins and outs of publishing an OER. In the meantime, I encourage anyone interested in creating their own Open Educational Resource to explore the guides and tools I’ve mentioned above. The Open Education Movement is full of supportive individuals ready to help you with your project. 

*Open Education Movement is a term that refers to faculty, staff, librarians, or other education professionals creating or supporting the creation of Open Educational Resources (OER).

“wocintech stock – 73” by WOCinTech Chat is licensed CC BY 2.0