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- Kristi Jensen
- Tahnee Pearse
- Adrian Stagg
- Amy Hofer
- Karen Lauritsen
- Zoe Wake Hyde
Zoe: Hi everyone, welcome it’s fabulous to see many familiar faces here and a few new ones. We’re really pleased to be having a conversation today about publishing programs on campuses. We have a fantastic line up as always. And so, I always forget to do my introduction. So, I’m Zoe from the Rebus community, if we haven’t met before. And so, we host these monthly Office Hours with OTN, our best buds in the OER space.
And we like to use this time to explore challenges that people are facing, different questions that are coming up and some of the kinds of things that we are trying to develop together as we move forward with creating OER and working with them in lots of exciting ways. So, I will now pass over to Karen from OTN to introduce our line up today. I’ll also mention thank you for those of you who have come with the change in time.
We usually do these a little earlier in the day, but we made a combinations today because we have a couple of very special guests from very, very far away from where we are, here in Montreal. And doing a lot of amazing work in Australia, so we’re pleased to have those two with us. So, thank you to everybody and especially the early risers for being here at the different time. Okay, so over to you, Karen.
Karen: All right, thanks Zoe. And as we say every time, we’re delighted to be here and co-host the Office Hours for you. My name is Karen, I am with the OTN. Today, we’re going to talk about different experiences setting up publishing programs. Our guests have built publishing programs at their colleges, universities or in state-wide bodies. And they are going to talk about how they did it and what you can expect when you try to do the same.
Our guests are going to speak about teams they have assembled, resources they’re relied on or created, and hopefully share what they might do differently given what they’ve learned along the way. So, I’m going to share our full line up and then turn it over to them one by one. If this is your first Office Hours, everyone will speak for about five minutes, and then we will ask you for your questions.
So, this is really a community driven conversation. Today, we welcome Adrian Stagg, who’s manager of open educational practice, office for the advancement of learning and teaching at the University of Southern Queensland. We also welcome Tahnee Pearse, who’s associate director of content library services, at the University of Southern Queensland. We also have Amy Hofer, coordinator state-wide open education library services at Open Oregon.
And Kristi Jensen, program development lead, e-learning support initiative at University of Minnesota Libraries. So, I’m going to now turn things over to Adrian and Tahnee. Thank you.
Tahnee: Thank you, Karen. I’m just going to share our Powerpoint slides. Can everyone see those?
Tahnee: Excellent. Adrian’s up first, so over to you, Adrian.
Adrian: Okay, thanks very much, Tahnee. So, before we begin this morning, the first thing that I would like to do that we make sure that we acknowledge at the University of Southern Queensland is to acknowledge that the University Southern Queensland is situated on country for which the traditional custodians, the Jarowair and Giabal people have been custodians of that land for many centuries and upon which they have performed age old ceremonies of celebration, initiation, and renewal.
We acknowledge their lived in culture and their unique role in the life of the region. And I would like to offer my deep appreciation for their contribution to and support of our academic enterprise. Now, for this morning’s presentation, we’ve decided to go with openness is everybody’s business, because you asked about teams that we have assembled and also, the fact that this is well beyond just one person’s work in order to get this up and running.
And as some of you might know, the picture in the background there is of some migrating geese, and what I’ve had to explain to colleagues before is that especially Canadian geese, for example, when they are migrating they’ll fly in that V pattern but what will happen is periodically one bird will actually take the lead as that bird falls back. And they all basically have a turn at leading and contributing to the health of the flock as they are moving on their journey.
And I think that this is a really good metaphor for how we’re approaching things at USQ that different people have stepped up at different points because we’re all going on this journey together. Now, to give you a bit of background for USQ, we are actually quite different to a lot of universities in Australia. We are in fact one of the few regional universities within a network.
And as such, we’ve got a very different student profile. So, we’ll take a look at who our students are, because essentially, they’re the ones who are driving a lot of our initiatives for OER. So, if we move to the next slide, Tahnee. So, taking a look here, 80% of our students are online. So, we will not see a vast majority of our students. 60% of them are first in family, and as such they don’t have an educational memory at home to draw from.
So, university is potentially a terrifying experience, and the transition to university is something that we spend a lot of resources in trying to get people acculturated and acclimated to the university environment. 40% are from regional or rural remote environments. So, with this comes a whole range of reasons as to why they are at university. And in addition to that, a lot of things like internet connectivity, download speeds, and those sorts of things, we’re talking about access.
And 24% of our students are identified as being from a low socioeconomic status. So, what I like to say that as a student focused strategy, openness makes sense if we’re looking to improve access and reduce barriers to university education. And one of our primary two focal areas this year, one of which is open textbooks. So, I’m going to hand over to Tahnee now. And she can walk you through how we have assembled that team and the kinds of work that we’re doing at the moment.
Tahnee: Thanks Adrian. Just to give you an overview of how we work, and we’re at pains to say we’re very much at the early stages of our journey into open access publishing, and we’re learning a lot. So, as Adrian said, open for us is everyone’s business. And so, we’re part of an education portfolio and we’ve tried to show it there in that slide. But we’re lucky because so Adrian and I are from different sections within that portfolio.
He’s in the office for advancement for learning and teaching, which includes quality improvement, ed developers, educational designers, grants, and open educational practice. I’m in the library, but we’ve also got things like media design and development in our portfolio, which is great. Our open access college, which is that transition pathway for people who may not go automatically into a university course.
So, it’s opening up their options. And we’ve also got a digital life lab, which is a research area that looks at digital literacy, digital technologies and their impact on teaching and learning. So, we’re really well situated, and we’ve got a range of stakeholders that we’ve tapped on the shoulder, I guess. And we’ve assembled a team we’ve called it the OECD, sadly, working group.
We’re aiming high, open education content development working group. So, there’s reps from all over that section and it’s great. They bring their own unique views. And what we’ve found is that we’re working through our processes, but we’re trying to slot people in within the education portfolio, so they know where they fit in that scheme of things. We don’t want our academics coming to us, we call it academic staff, I think you call them faculty.
So, we don’t want them coming to our portfolio and asking about open access publishing and getting a blank stare from someone. So, that’s where everyone’s business comes from. So, we’ve reused the University of Hawaii’s process document here, but we did get feedback early on in the piece. And it’s fantastic the workflow where we’re not done, the end. And so, instead we’ve revised this and we’re looking at that continual flow.
And this is what we’re really focusing on at the moment. Getting that support at each stage of this process, and making sure we have things like funding, institutional strategy. So, we’re rewriting procedures at the moment and having input into our intellectual property policy. Getting our platforms and ICT structures in place. Getting our evidence gathering and reporting right, our recognition of our champions in this sphere.
And also, our community and communication right, so we want to tap into students’ evaluation of our resources and inclusion in the creation of resources. So, that’s our work in progress. And to support that, we’re doing things like creating resources, so we’ve got a style sheet from Pressbooks, that’s based on our internal style guides, things like that. We’ve also got a pro forma for any book cover we produce. So, it’s all fed into that quality but that’s about it from my perspective. I’ll hand back over to Adrian.
Adrian: Right ho. So, the next question is then, what is just around the corner for USQ and openness? And hopefully, our vision is somewhat clearer than the cat that you can see in the image there. Although I’m sure that Tahnee wouldn’t mind me saying that both of us have felt a little bit cross-eyed as we’ve been going through this process. Good, I’m getting a nod.
So, as we look into the future, as I mentioned beforehand, we’ve got two focus areas this year and they are open textbooks and also open assessment. We are hoping that within the next few months, we’re looking at an open textbook publishing kit, which will be basically our style guide, the templates that we have used, and also what we’re doing is working on bringing in all of the documentation that we have and putting that into a Pressbooks book.
So, that we can share that, and that other people can take that book and localize it as they need be. Now, it’s worth mentioning as well at this point that one of the other core areas and I was reminded of this when Tahnee mentioned our open access college, is that we have a very large proportion of incarcerated students. So, we have I believe if memory serves, we actually service the largest number of incarcerated students in Australia.
And so, when you look at education as a very powerful mechanism to reduce recidivism and to also give people options when they are released from custody, we are finding that a lot of those students are enrolling in courses and then continuing with their enrolment post release. And part of the focus on open textbooks is to target those courses as well, because we find that incarcerated students don’t have access to an awful lot of money.
And purchasing a $200, $300 textbook is often the major barrier for them being able to engage in something which is going to transform their life. So, those are the main things that we have done to date. And I’m looking forward to exploring this in greater detail with you as we move into the conversation. Thank you very much.
Karen: Thanks, Adrian and Tahnee. I would like to now pass it on to Amy.
Amy: Can you hear me okay?
Amy: Okay, good. Well, I am Amy Hofer, I’m with Open Oregon educational resources. And when I started thinking about what I would say about publishing here in Oregon in terms of what I do, I think that I don’t really have a publishing program. Or at least I didn’t set out to have one, what I do is I offer faculty grants to redesign their courses using OER. And those grants result in faculty creating stuff that needs to be shared so that other people don’t have to reinvest the wheel.
And it can’t be every single individual grantee’s problem to try to figure out how do I share? Where do I share? I needed to be able to just provide that information to people. So, in terms of what comes out of the grants, some of it is a book that we’re publishing. But some of it is a link to an open textbook that was adopted as is, or if it’s a reading list of multiple sources, that reading list can be a document with an open license on it.
Maybe it’s a public facing version of a course in an LMS without any student data or content that lives in an institutional repository or even a citation to library database content because there are some disciplines where there just isn’t open content available yet. So, all of that is stuff that I can collect on the Open Oregon resources page to let other instructors in Oregon know how does somebody solve the problem of teaching this course without assigning an expensive commercial textbook?
And of course, sometimes there is a thing that somebody created to fill a gap. And so, in those cases it’s like okay, how are we going to publish this? Whatever definition or whatever low bar of publishing you want to say that we have. So, a couple of tools that I am using because they are easy to get started with, and your data is really portable in case some other solution seems better later.
One is Pressbooks, which I offer to grantees for their content, and what I tell them is this is good if you have book-like content. It’s linear, it has chapters, it has a table of contents, and sometimes faculty are like, “Oh yeah, that totally fits what I want.” And sometimes faculty are like, “Oh no, I want to be very lateral, I prefer Google sites or a folder of documents. I want to stay in the LMS or whatever it is.”
And that’s totally fine, Pressbooks is one option that they have. And the other tool that I have been having a lot of success with is OER Commons. Open Oregon educational resources has a group, which is like the free way to make an institutional presence in OER Commons. And creating an OER Commons group has let me have a proof of concept of using that as our repository.
There’s sort of a perennial question of whether we need a state-wide repository, or a regional repository and I always feel like the answer is no. We don’t need 50 repositories, one per state in the US, let’s contribute to where other content already is. So, OER Commons has been good as a proof of concept of that idea, but also, it’s just very, very easy to use that as a referatory. So, for example, we just did a redesign sprint during open ed week.
And the result was 30 or 35 openly licensed syllabi and reading lists. And I made a folder in our group in OER Commons. So, I just want to say something I’ve been thinking about is that because the grants are for course redesign and all of the publications that come out of those grants are for these individual course redesigns. The textbooks, for example, that you find in Pressbooks are really individually tailored to how one instructor approaches the learning objectives for the courses.
And so, they might look the same as for example what UMN creates and we’ll hear from Kristi in a minute. They do those beautiful jobs and make a real version of record of a textbook that’s widely applicable to courses and a lot of what comes out of the grants can be a very individual approach to the content. And of course, the beauty of the open license is that people can revise and remix and take what works for them and not take what doesn’t work.
But I think that there can be some confusion when they’re both a Pressbook but one is a version of record that’s gone through a peer review process, etc and the other is this is a very individual product of a grant. So, that’s something that I’ve been thinking about regarding the publishing program. And I just will wrap up by saying that my biggest challenge is that I’m completely at capacity in terms of managing the projects.
And so, right now I’m advocating for funding for an open education publishing librarian position, to better manage the resources that are created by Oregon’s faculty grantees. To really make it a publishing program where I wouldn’t say be invited to a talk like this and say like, “But I don’t think we really have a publishing program.” Where I wouldn’t have those caveats where somebody is really treating it as a collection that’s discoverable and accessible and really widely reusable, sort of less ad hoc.
Because I feel like I’ve backed into publishing as a component of grant project management, rather than as a standalone project. So, looking forward to the discussion.
Karen: Yeah, thank you, Amy. The discussion is already happening in the chat and so, after we hear from Kristi, we will start looking and addressing those questions. So, now I’d like to turn things over to Kristi.
Kristi: Thank you, everybody. So, I had jotted down some ideas of what to talk about and then I hear other people and I’m like, “Well, maybe I should talk about this.” But I have been doing this work for I don’t know, since the end of 2012. And so, our program I would not say is actually an OER publishing program, it’s an affordable content program with an OER publishing element.
So, that’s one prong of what we do here at the University of Minnesota and the team is mostly composed of myself and Shane Nackerud who I think many of you are probably familiar with as well, who’s great. And he wasn’t able to be here today, due to another commitment. But so, we do something similar to what Amy was talking about. We do offer some incentive grants for faculty on campus.
And some of those incentive grants, which they are not huge, they end up resulting in published open textbooks. We’re a little bit odd in that the library is also at the same time that our initiative started, there was also the beginnings of a library publishing initiative. And so, we do have a library publishing group. Their focus is more on scholarly outputs, and other types of outputs.
But we work together with them and they sometimes provide funding in addition to our grant funding for things like maybe for our more robust textbooks, maybe a copy editor who will go through and copy edit the work. So, like the incentive funding the faculty get to use that for other things. And then, we coordinate with our publishing group and they do a lot of management of some of the administrative types of things.
Like maybe an MOU that the faculty member signs, just to make sure that we understand that we are going to continue to host this thing, even if they leave the university, or if something changes, things like that. So, that frees things up that admin piece is something that can take up some time developing and also administrating. So, some of the questions that came to mind when we were listening to the other folks talk is, I like to that one of the things that we’re doing with our publishing program is rethinking what a textbook actually is.
So, maybe for an aerospace engineering faculty member, it is just pages and pages of formulas and examples of formulas, and it’s not a traditional textbook. Maybe it is a bunch of open, OER chapters from different books for an ag communication class that gets published in our reserve system and it never gets published as a full-fledged Pressbooks open textbook. And then, there are the really beautiful things.
So, there were some open textbooks that were heavily used that were going away, and the University of Minnesota republished those and did some clean up, with some issues with those. I won’t mention where they came from (laughs). But Pressbooks makes things look really beautiful and so, we had an opportunity with those to think about what makes things look nice. And then, when we began working with different faculty members, I worked with a faculty member on a design equity textbook, which I think is really lovely.
It’s not super long, but it touches on really pertinent concepts for society today. And it contributes to education in general in talking about really difficult topics, I think. So, when I think about publishing, I think about where are the niche things that aren’t going to get represented ever in major publishing. So, maybe like the design equity book wouldn’t have gotten published by a major publisher but it’s a really great candidate.
We also have a geography textbook that I think could have been a mainstream published item, but the faculty member is generous in wanting to provide access to it. So, pushing the boundaries of what do we think textbooks are I think is a great thing that we can do as part of our programming. I should have looked at what the time was when I started. We started with a local install of Pressbooks and we moved to a hosted version, which has been I think really good for us via our collaborative partnership as part of Unison.
I think I agree with Amy, publishing, whenever I go and talk with other institutions I talk about our grants. And a lot of people don’t have money for grants. I think you can do a call for proposals you don’t have to have money. If you’re willing to provide some support and some teams to help faculty, I think you can do a call for proposals and you never have to offer money. I think that’s another option.
The other thing that I had down is I think the devil is often in the detail. So, it’s like you’ll get started working on a book and it’s like ooh, we should have made a decision about what level of headers we were going to put throughout this. And then, you have to go back and change. So, once you’ve done a project you learn some of those details, like how are we going to work with cited resources and additional resources at the end and footnotes?
So, there’s a lot of different little details that go into the styling and the formatting and pull out quotes and different things like that. So, if you can establish that with the faculty member that you’re working on that can be really great. And so, the other flexibility factor is I think many places to publish, like Amy was saying, OER Commons it can be in library reserves, it could be in Pressbooks.
But I think the other flexibility is also what was I going to say? (Laughs) I lost that thought, sorry. I’m sure it’ll come back to me. Thinking about accessibility upfront, making sure that faculty understand expectations with regards to putting in Alt tags and really good descriptions of images. The other flexibility piece is so we do have access to Pressbooks, do we do all of the work?
Or do we turn things over to faculty and let them work in Pressbooks themselves? That’s another detail that can get worked out. And then, finally the other thing is we have both informal and formal publications. So, we have things that get branded with our University of Minnesota libraries publishing. But we have things that are just really more study guides, but they’re really beautiful study guides.
And so, those things are worthwhile in pursuing, but maybe they don’t ever get published as a full open textbook, but there’s still really valuable content. Like Amy said, capacity is always an issue. This is one strand of what we do, it is not everything that we do. And these things can be really time consuming. So, I think that might be my five minutes. And that was really rambling. Sorry, but it was trying to connect in to what other people had said.
Amy: Wait, Kristi, can I ask a question? Actually, Anita asked it in the chat about the informal content, does that get shared?
Kristi: You know, so like some of it is still under development but yes, our goal would be to definitely. Yeah, I mean, our goal is to always openly license everything and to share things as widely as possible. But some of those informal things it’s harder to nail down a completion date. Sorry, I felt very ramble-y.
Karen: It was great, thank you, Kristi. As you said, there are lots of details and so when we’re sharing details it always feels like we’re going on, but that’s how it is. So, there were a lot of questions that started in the chat. I think the first one is from Olga. Olga asked: can you provide more details about the grants? Who is responsible for the grants? Are they sustainable amounts? I think this is for Adrian and Tahnee.
Tahnee: And I will let Adrian answer that, because that’s what he looks after. So, Adrian.
Adrian: Okay, so in about 2015, we started off an open grants program as USQ. Now, we do have funding towards that, and the funding of course as we would all know is variable, due to university budgets being quite variable. And so, what we do is each year we work out the focus areas that we want to encourage people to put in a proposal for. It is a competitive process, so this year for example, we only have four grants which are available.
And they’re in the categories of open textbooks and open assessment. We do give priority and we state all of this upfront that priority is given to first year courses, to courses with very high enrolments, or to proposals that target more than one discipline. And the participants are actually given an 18-month period to complete, which also includes evaluation. And we highly encourage them to publish and present as part of this.
The one thing that I will mention that I find that people are interested in is the actual structure of what happens after you get the money, because in a lot of grants, I don’t know how it is in other countries. But in Australia, if you get a learning and teaching grant, it’s often here’s the money, go and make good things happen. And we’ll see you at the end when you put your final report in.
We decided that because these are very much about building capacity and building capability, that once a month, all of the participants come together for an hour and a half. And we start things off with just very simply with tea and coffee, sit down, and just destress. And we get people over the last four years who have said that 20 minutes at the beginning, where we just sit down, have a cuppa, have some biscuits is the best start to any meeting anytime anywhere, where they just get to take a load off.
And then, we go round the table and we talk about what are the successes? What do they want to celebrate this month? And then, what do they need help with in the coming month? And then, also the last part of that is building their domain knowledge. So, they might say, “Well, we’re all in a position now where we want to know more about Creative Commons licensing.”
And so, we’ll invite someone into the community, we bribe them with coffee and biscuits. And they come into the community and share their knowledge. And then, the process just repeats each month. So, that community building aspect has been something that’s been very successful as well as the funded grants.
Amy: I want to chime in, because what you described is different from how I do payment, which is at the end, but I do try to have a mid-point payment, also. Hopefully at about the point where people are getting really discouraged and maybe calling me, crying. (Laughs) Because people do hit a wall on these projects. But I find it really interesting that you pre pay for the projects.
Because I feel like I need to have half the money in reserve in order to get people’s enrolment data and also the thing that we will share, whether that’s the link to the open content that they adopted or the final draft of the Pressbook, or whatever it is. But what I tell people as they start to panic about needing to get done, I’ll tell people like, “Think of it as a pilot, of course you’re never really done.
Everyone always continues to tweak their course. Just because the grant period is done, doesn’t mean that you can’t keep working on the project in an organic way.”
Adrian: And with that funding as well, we ask them to put in a budget, an indicative budget as part of the proposal. So, for example, last year both groups put in their indicative budget to have the equivalent of a project manager. So, it was just somebody who arranges all the meetings, keeps everybody on track. And for the open textbook project that we funded last year, they had somebody who could take the bulk of the work of putting everything into Pressbooks.
And being able to develop those sorts of things. So, they do find that the money often allows them to buy other people’s time. And that’s where I find that the benefit exists.
Kristi: So, our grants are actually more incentive grants than payment for the product. And so, our grants are executed, they get the money pretty much right away. And that’s for any project not just the OER projects. But our maximum is $1,500 so if they are writing a full open textbook it’s really not that much money. And they don’t have to use it towards the project, but a lot of people do.
So, we have a really good book that will be out eventually, that it’s from a very popular class, it’s the biology of sex, essentially. And it’s a really popular class. And they hired a graphic design student to tie the graphic design throughout their whole book. And actually, they applied for the grant a couple of times, in order to keep her on because it’s a larger project. And we do a lot of the project management.
So, the other thing that they get is the team that’s wrapped around them, which is sometimes what people are looking for more than the money. And so, the team can vary, and the involvement can vary. Maybe it’s just to check in once every six months, or maybe it’s somebody who’s actually project managing and bringing things together. So, our grants are a little bit different.
And we’ve maybe had one bad actor in our history of grant providing. And it’s hard to get any money back but I think out of the number of grants that we’ve given, that’s pretty good. And you go back, and you think, well, do we give it after the fact? But it’s hard to get people involved if you’re waiting. And some of our projects have taken much longer than 18 months to complete, too.
That’s the other flexibility thing is that it takes a lot of nudging at different points in time because people have competing priorities.
Karen: And I received a related question in the chat for any of you or all of you. Our main constraint is faculty time. Money is great, but do they create ways to purchase course releases or other time creation?
Amy: Course releases cost more than what my grant project pay scale is. And I have heard similar feedback, can we have a course release? And yeah, I was talking with someone this morning about how you want to balance really paying people for their valuable time and incentivizing this work that has such an important return for students. And you want to balance that against being able to include more people in the program. So, how to thread that needle?
Adrian: With our grants, I would echo the same as Amy is that one, the amount of money doesn’t get a lot of buy out. But the other thing is that we’ve very deliberately positioned our grants so that they ask people to identify a challenge that currently exists in a course that they are teaching. And part of the grant is to implement their proposed solution as a part of their regular teaching and to engage with students and to also get student feedback.
And so, the rationale then is that providing money from buy out actually removes you from the space that you need to be in in order to meet the goals of the grant.
Kristi: So, this is a side note, I put a couple of things into the chat. But so, one faculty member brought content, that design equity book had content that came from when the faculty member was actually on sabbatical that her department paid for, right? But then, the other thing that has come up for her, she’s a full professor, so she’s tenured, she’s achieved the highest rank that she can achieve.
But she still has to produce output that counts on her CV on a regular basis. And so, she’s been looking for ways how can we nominate the book for an award? Because that will give it more cred on her CV. How can we do some post production review process? And what was the other thing? We also added, I don’t know that we’ll get any feedback, but we added a request for adoption information from anybody who uses the book.
Because adoption information might give more credibility in her review process as well. And then, she and I are working on different speaking engagements and writing engagements about the process as well. So, actually some of those supplementary things might give her more credit as a professor than the book itself actually did. Even though she had a sabbatical that supported the creation of that material.
Zoe: Yeah, I love those more creative ideas to think about the ways that you can be creating that value, too. And I will a little bit cue up for a couple of future sessions where we’re going to be digging into these questions a bit more, as well. So, we’re looking forward to those few more details at the end of the call. Before she took off, Apurva actually dropped a question. And I might call on Tahnee to answer this one, if you can.
Looking at that diagram you had of all the different teams, I was wondering if you could speak to how either easy or challenging it has been to have them all in coordination with each other? And maybe was the seed of the idea founded with one, and then others were brought on? How did that collaboration come together?
Tahnee: Challenging is the word, I think, and Adrian would probably agree with that, because it is quite a big portfolio. So, basically, I think Adrian and I have always worked quite closely together for years. I have a copyright background, so that has come in handy. But this has actually come, I’m on the executive team of the ed portfolio, and it came from a group discussion of our executive team.
Where we want the other approach, across the portfolio and different teams to work together. Because we’ve got amazing skills like media development and design, educational designers. We know not one person can give the full suite of support. So, where we’re struggling with this approach is we have a working group, but it’s a capacity issue again. We really need one central person to be our open contact for publishing.
At the moment, it’s shared between Adrian and I and our liaison librarian sometimes field those queries. But I guess we’ve got that lovely communication and we’ve got loads of communication set up in that group. But we still need that key contact across the University of Southern Queensland. Where if people want to publish, they know who to come to. And we need to tell our staff that, too.
So, we’re actually trying to get an open access librarian at the moment to work in link with Adrian and I and actually oversee the duties of this group. Does that kind of answer what she was looking at?
Zoe: Absolutely. And obviously, a clear connection to what Amy is identifying in her context as well and the challenges there. It’s exciting to hear people talking about this. A lot of people have been doing this work in lots of ways and that they’re identifying this gap in skills that can be filled by frankly some very lucky people, who’ll be working with all of you one day. (Laughter) Fantastic job.
Tahnee: People have made mention of project management. I think that’s key for that role, to be a project manager, editor, we were lucky enough to get some funding just for December last year, where we did through one textbook, it was just an adaptation of a text that’s up on our Pressbooks site. But she was a jack of all trades, she’s an editor, a librarian, a project manager. So, that’s what we want in that kind of role.
Zoe: Right. That’s the job description. We’ve found the same thing, so we’ve had hands on with I think around 30 maybe a little over, over the last couple of years. And that’s something we’ve seen, too it being often the critical determination of success or I won’t say the opposite of success, but things taking longer and being more complicated and more confusing. So, that key point of contact, as you say.
And then, a measure of responsibility that comes with that at the project level as well, just of making sure you have that person who has the knowledge and it’s their prime responsibility is keeping things moving. Thank you. Kristi or Amy, did you want to jump in on the question of teams and whether you’ve had similar experiences to what Tahnee was discussing as you’ve established things?
Amy: Open Oregon educational resources is me and I did get to hire an assistant this year. And then, there’s also Wendell, my cat, (laughs) who assists me by lying on the couch in the office. But hearing you describe all the different roles on your campus it just sounds fabulous. And yeah, I can only hope someday. And I think part of it is being in that state-wide role, I’ve not had a campus with an existing department where it’s natural to hold people’s talents from.
So, it’s really been like let’s hire a state-wide coordinator, let’s give her funding to offer grants. And I’m like and… (laughs) this other stuff has followed on from here.
Kristi: Yeah, we don’t have extensive teams. So, the copy editor that we use, it’s an external person that’s funded, who is awesome. And I worked with her when Shane and I worked on our book together that went through libraries publishing. But the team is usually me and or Shane, and then if there’s other people from the department that get involved, yeah, it’s piecemeal for the most part for us, at this point.
Tahnee: And I do have to say—Sorry. You go.
Amy: Well, somebody asked about how much grantees do themselves. And so, it means that the more projects I am managing, the more hands off I am, and the more grantees are doing the work or the support on their own campus at their college or university.
Tahnee: And I was just going to say that we are very much, this is just something added onto our current role, too. So, it’s not perfect here by any means, and we’re doing it in addition to, so last year when we were pushing that book through, there were many long hours above and beyond, just to get that through in time. So, yeah, rest assured we’re in the same boat, we’re just trying to tap into those teams a bit more effectively.
Kristi: Well, it’s not actually an add on, this is my job. So, I am lucky enough to not have that added on. It’s just one piece that these projects can be very time consuming, as I know most of you know.
Zoe: Thank you for that, Amy. I did get a picture of the cat. It’s very important to do so. And I think I’ll mention as well, at least in the experiences I’ve had with projects is that it seems to be quite campus dependent how much these teams are able to come together and willing to come together. I’ve heard stories of say, libraries and centers for teaching and learning being really tightknit and on the same track.
And I’ve heard other stories where those same two players can have quite different goals and different opinions on where OER should go on the campus. So, I think it’s interesting to see all these different models that can be successful in those different contexts, because it maybe that some people are facing a really welcoming group. And they’ll be able to put together the extensive network that you have, Tahnee.
And then, there’ll be others where that isn’t the same possibility, but there’s still a lot you can work with and do within that context, which is very interesting. You’re a one-woman powerhouse, Amy.
Amy: What I was going to say is I’ve also been surprised by the needs in terms of time and like how in depth the projects go. You can have someone adopt a textbook as is, which seems to be the most straightforward type of project, and you realize actually, that the way that they’ve approached their course redesign they’ve taken a really hugely deep dive, that makes it a very involved project that you weren’t expecting.
Or the categories just become very slippery, like I had a project where somebody decided to update and revise. This is the Excel book that came out of Portland Community College, which I love what they ended up with. But because they were revising somebody else’s work, at some point they called me and they were like, “This would be so much less work if we had just started from scratch.”
Even though it’s lower on the pay scale, if you will, so I have wound up being surprised by the ways that the categories sometimes are not what I expect them to be.
Tahnee: We adapted a research textbook last year, and we tried to Australianize the content. And we didn’t think that would take that long, but it did. So, that was an interesting process, too.
Karen: Sorry, go ahead Kristi.
Kristi: I was just going to say the tenet that everything takes longer than you think it will is especially applicable in this space. (Laughs)
Karen: Expecting the unexpected. Expecting to be surprised. I received another question in the chat. And that is what is the process to get the purse holders and other administrators to start buying in and supporting OER publishing?
Tahnee: I think we hear return on investment a lot. Adrian will agree. And Adrian, do you want to speak about what you’re getting together for our institution?
Adrian: So, one of the things given our mission and also the fact that we have a very current strategic action plan for social justice at our university. Part of my work over the last couple of weeks has been pulling together all of our core courses, so these are courses for each degree or each program, where students don’t have a choice about taking them. They’re mandatory courses.
And noting down all of the textbooks and textbook prices, and then what I’m doing is getting all the 2018 student load data and simply saying that okay, so by course, the figures don’t take very much to add up. Where you actually can say to a faculty, an individual student taking the mandatory courses is expected to purchase this amount in textbooks. And as a cohort, this is how much we have asked them to spend on textbooks.
And when you start to look at just those first-year courses and make the argument that these are actually resources that aren’t covered by student loans, and the like. These are out of pocket expenses for students, that’s where we’re starting to gain a little bit of traction. The other thing that we are putting against this data is the rising data on our institutional student loans, because we offer loans for educational resources.
And a lot of our students use them for textbooks, so as of last year we’re now identifying those loans by discipline. And so, what will hopefully happen is we’ll be able to say, “Well, here’s how much you’re asking students to spend on textbooks. Here’s the percentage of your students who are asking for loans. Surely this speaks to the fact that we have a problem.”
Kristi: I think we’ve all heard in many different places that you can tailor your message to whatever audience, what’s going to appeal to the audience that you’re going to be talking to. And sometimes it’s cost savings for students and retention and graduation rates. But one of the things that really got us started was there was a few years ago we had a new provost and she was focused on transforming teaching and learning.
And so, we snuck the content piece into that, and then that allowed us to collaborate with other people who provide central services who might have more direct contact with faculty when they’re thinking about course redesign. Like what used to be our center for teaching and learning and is now the center for educational and innovation. Our academic technology support services folks.
So, those folks will often be key players in bringing us to people’s attention or pointing people in my direction for getting that work done. So, I think that’s the messaging, but it’s also maybe the collaborative partners that you can connect with, who can make a difference.
Amy: Yeah, I think that as Kristi said, the audience matters a lot. Is it about improving teaching and learning? Is that what your audience is going to respond to? Or is it about the student savings and student need as Adrian was mentioning? And it’s really a matter of just being prepared in terms of who you’re talking to. So, it’s the end of our biennium in Oregon and the legislature is in session and working on the budget for the next biennium.
So, yesterday I went to Salem for two minutes, (laughs) and gave testimony about why we should continue to fund open ed in Oregon. But of course, I always say, “Textbook affordability and open education.” Because it’s a bunch of legislatures, if you say OER that’s jargon and they really want to know about student savings. They want to know how many students have been served by the program and how much money they have saved as a result of this state-wide spending.
And we know as educators that that is not the be all and end all. But it’s a very concise talking point.
Karen: Super, thank you all. I think we’re at the conclusion of our hour together with a mere three minutes remaining. This has been yet another robust conversation, so I’d like to thank everyone who offered their questions and additional resources in the chat and during the call. And I would like to ask all of you to join me and Zoe in thanking our guests, Kristi, Amy, Tahnee, and Adrian.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences with us. It’s always great to get together and see everyone on a monthly basis. And I wish you all well until we meet again next month. Zoe, would you like to talk about next month’s call?
Zoe: Yes, I can do, thanks Karen. So, as I alluded to, this conversation is setting us up really nicely for what’s coming. We’re trying something a little bit new, and we are doing a two-parter for our next two calls. So, the April and May calls will be connected in theme. And we’re going to be looking at invisible labor in OER. So, that’s a very big topic. Next month what we’re going to be doing is thinking about what that means, sharing stories about people’s experiences with that.
And then, with the follow up session, the second one will be more focused on strategies and things like author compensation that we touched on here today, and really getting into some practical ways to consider that. We’re really excited about these. So, the date for the first session will be on April 25th and we’ll be back at our 2:00 PM Eastern Time. All of those details will of course go out through the usual channels, through Twitter and the newsletter.
And we’re really, really excited to see you all there. And I’ll add my thanks to Karen’s for everybody here today. Our wonderful speakers, it was really, really fantastic to hear from you all. We have so many ideas brewing here that we’re really excited to be able to share in this context and build on together. It’s really wonderful that we get to have these calls every month. Thoroughly enjoy them, so thank you all so much. We’ll see you all next time.
Thanks to Mei Lin for preparing the audio transcript and video captions!
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