A dozen ways to get involved in OER as Minnesota State faculty and staff

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research resources that make use of appropriate tools, such as open licensing to permit their free reuse, continuous improvement, and re-purposing by others for educational purposes (UNESCO). OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. 

Minnesota State faculty, staff, and administrators can advocate for OER on their campuses to help lower the cost of course resources for students. Here are 12 ways to get involved in OER at Minnesota State: 

1. Become an OER Community Site member 

The OER Community Site utilizes Microsoft Teams and SharePoint to create a space for Minnesota State faculty and staff to start and join discussions, find helpful resources, collaborate on files, locate Creative Commons experts, read OER news, and find quick start guides for common disciplines. 

Visit the OER Community Site and click the button to “Join the OER Community” to receive emails from the OER Community. StarID required. 

2. Attend an OEN Webinar (and receive a $200 stipend!) 

A great introduction to OER for Minnesota State faculty and staff, attendees also get an overview of Creative Commons licensing and the Open Education Network (OEN). After the webinar, review an open textbook in the Open Textbook Library and receive a $200 stipend.  

Register for upcoming OEN Webinars, which can be found on the Network for Educational Development (NED) events calendar. 

3. Ask questions at OER FAQ Webinars 

Join a panel from the system office who will answer questions about OER, intellectual property, Creative Commons licenses, Z-degrees, and additional questions from attendees. 

Register for upcoming OER FAQ Webinars, which can be found on the Network for Educational Development (NED) events calendar. 

4. Join OER Community Conversations 

Faculty and staff are invited to OER Community Conversations held twice per semester. Attendees can share, discuss, and learn from colleagues in the Minnesota State OER community. Conversations typically have a topic of interest and a guest speaker. 

Register for upcoming OER Community Conversations, which can be found on the Network for Educational Development (NED) events calendar. 

5. Get support to bring OER to your courses 

OER Learning Circles are cohorts where colleagues from around the system can collaborate and support one another while they work to redesign a course around open educational resources, author open ancillary materials or a primary course resource to help eliminate costs for students. 

In addition to virtual weekly meetings with facilitator Karen Pikula, OER Faculty Development Coordinator, OER Learning Circles utilize a D2L Brightspace course to support faculty and offer .5 RCE (reasonable credit equivalent) to participating faculty. 

Each year there are three opportunities for Minnesota State faculty and staff to join OER Learning Circles:  

  • Spring (10-week) 
  • Summer (5-week) 
  • Fall (10-week) 

Learn more about OER Learning Circles and apply for an upcoming cohort. 

6. Search for or upload resources in Opendora 

Opendora is the digital OER repository for Minnesota State faculty, staff, and librarians to load, access, and share licensed OER. Opendora allows the storage of or linking to course content including textbooks, lecture notes, syllabi, reading lists, and videos.  

Search for open textbooks, ancillary materials, or D2L Brightspace course shells in Opendora. You can also learn more about Opendora in the OER Community Site. 

7. Ask your campus librarian 

Campus librarians can assist faculty with finding resources. Librarians can also teach faculty how to use library-curated resources, which are diverse resources purchased by the library at no additional cost to the student that can also be used to supplement or replace course materials.

Find your campus library information

8. Learn more about Z-degrees 

A Z-degree is an associate degree or bachelor’s degree that have zero-cost course resources for students and is made up of courses that exclusively use zero-cost course resources such as OER, open textbooks, and library-curated materials. 

Seven Minnesota State colleges offer Z-degrees on their campuses. Learn more about Z-degrees at Minnesota State. 

9. Apply for innovation funding 

Since 2016, Minnesota State Educational Innovations has hosted the Shark Tank Open, awarding faculty and staff from around the state funding to bring their innovative ideas to life through Innovation Funding grants.  

Consider applying for innovation funding focused on open educational resources. Use the filters to browse previously funded OER innovation projects in the Innovation Gallery for inspiration. 

The next innovation funding round opens in November 2021. 

10. Attend additional professional development events 

Librarian Workdays are available to Minnesota State librarians and library staff each year. Register for one or both of the 2021 Librarian Workdays held in October to learn from librarians and other experts, view their OER projects and efforts, and to see partnerships in action that are built along the OER journey.  

Other professional development events are available throughout the OER community and across the country, such as the OpenEd Conference held October 18-22, 2021. 

Look at what professional development events are being offered on your campus or consider hosting your own events to bring more OER excitement to your colleagues and community. 

11. Get a Creative Commons Certificate 

The Creative Commons Certificate is an in-depth course about CC licenses, open practices and the ethos of the Commons. The course is composed of readings, quizzes, discussions and practical exercises to develop learners’ open skills. 

The Minnesota State system office will support up to ten seats for the CC Certificate for Librarians or the CC Certificate for Educators. This cohort runs from September 27 – December 5, 2021. 

The cost for the CC Certificate is $500. However, Minnesota State will reimburse librarians, departments, or institutions for up to 10 spots upon successful certificate completion. 

Learn more about this opportunity to take the Creative Commons Certificate course. 

12. Talk to your administration 

Administrators on campuses can support lowering the cost of course resources for students by developing a culture of OER on their campus. This can be done in many ways such as supporting and promoting faculty to join OER faculty development events, starting a dialogue with students and faculty, or engaging in communities of practice.  

Learn more about OER at www.MinnState.edu/OER.  

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