Question #3: Please tell me about an Open Education project, textbook, or group that you have been a part of.
We’ve launched what we call the OERwest Network for folks that are members of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) region. That’s pretty much all the western states including Guam and the Mariana Islands. We’re in our third month of getting together. We are identifying what the network’s goals and objectives are and what we’re hoping to accomplish. That’s definitely been enlightening. You can see all the different types of needs and all the different types of players in OER, specifically in each of the states. You have Instructional Designers, Librarians, Faculty, Chief Academic Officers, state level OER Coordinators. It’s a very diverse group, which is great.
I started by actually reaching out to key players in each state in the WICHE region. I requested to interview them before we even launched the network. We did so to really understand their needs and where they are in the process of either adopting or expanding their OER efforts. What I found is that states are in very different places when it comes to OER. Some states are barely now having conversations of launching OER efforts. Other states are light years ahead and already have policies and infrastructure in place. While in other states, it’s really decentralized; it’s one faculty member leading a charge in an institution, gathering friends that are interested. We really haven’t pinpointed exactly what the network will be working on because it was to help them identify what their needs were and support those needs. We want to increase capacity but it’s a challenge because needs are very diverse and people are in different institutional areas, which is great but then you run into siloes. We might need to focus on what meets each member’s objectives and then support that work by stratifying folks based on where they are with their OER initiatives. We’re still figuring out those pieces.