by Frank Ponte, Manager, Library Services (Teaching), RMIT University Library
The OER Capability Toolkit
Read and download the OER Capability Toolkit from:
Eighteen months ago, I formed a team to investigate how we would address OER awareness, adoption, support and capability for teaching staff. We addressed these needs through the development of an OER Capability Toolkit designed for the RMIT University audience but shared openly for others to adapt.
The authoring and development of this work was conducted remotely in the shared Teams environment. The OER Capability Toolkit was published in July 2022. The published work also spawned a set of four open education self-directed modules via the university HR platform for onboarding of new staff and professional development, an authoring toolkit and a style guide. Collectively, these works are the fundamental building blocks to open education knowledge building and all designed to provide the support structure required for educators to successfully author an open work.
Building the OER Capability Toolkit allowed me to reflect on the process that was undertaken and share the learning from our project.
Sustainability is key driver in the development of an open publication. Educators are tasked with bringing together large groups of authors, and consequently need to ensure clarity and purpose. Therefore, a strong foundation of support is required. The library has provided this through the aforementioned publications, self-directed modules, and the Pressbooks authoring platform. In addition, the library created an open publishing team to reinforce our commitment to open education, streamline the support the library provides, and assign each open textbook project an open publishing team member to provide advice and guidance for a successful outcome.
A publishing workflow
When we embarked on our project to develop the OER Capability Toolkit our understanding of an open publishing workflow was emergent. In retrospect, it would have been a simpler task if we had a clearer understanding of the fundamental principles, processes and tasks associated with publishing rather than vacillating between authoring and addressing complex problems. The subsequent emergence of the CAUL publishing workflow now anchors our support with educators and ensures that the seven stages of publishing and associated tasks are addressed at the appropriate time.
Creative Commons licensing
The OER Capability Toolkit is a remix. That is, the publication is a combination of existing creative commons resources and original content. Lessons learned include:
- Ensuring there is an understanding of the license type you are publishing under from the outset. This will determine what resources you have at your disposal and can use in the adaptation process.
- Knowing a non-derivative license cannot be used in any adaptation.
- Maintaining track of what was being used in the adaptation. Doing so, assisted in creating the reference list and acknowledging the original resource.
- Reflecting on your level of comfort with releasing an open work. That is, are you happy for your newly created work to be adapted, remixed, or monetized.
Formative and summative assessments – H5P activities
H5P is a plugin available in Pressbooks which allows the author to create formative and summative assessment tasks for learners. There is evidence to suggest that this kind of interactivity assists learners to stay focused and engaged with the content. I wanted to include these activities in the OER Capability Toolkit as learning and engagement was a critical element to building and delivering this work. The toolkit contains a number of H5P activities used as formative assessment and presents a summative assessment called the “open pedagogy plan” in Part 5 as the culmination of this learning.
Open publications that contain formative and summative activities have the capacity to be embedded within the context of a broader course curriculum and provide the flexibilities required for educators to engage with open pedagogical practices.
Ensure that attribution and citation are clearly defined and articulated from the beginning. Even though the terms share characteristics, citations and attributions play different roles and appear in different places. A citation allows authors to provide the source of any quotations, ideas, and information that they include in their own work based on the copyrighted works of other authors. It is used in works for which broad permissions have not been granted.
Attribution on the other hand is used when a resource or text is released with an open licence. This legal requirement states that users must attribute — give credit — to the creator of the work and encompass these critical elements at a minimum:
- Title of the work
- Author (creator) of the work
- Source (link) or where the work can be found
- License of the work
Peer review, front and back matter
Peer review was an important element to get right. We engaged in three rounds of peer review. Starting by reviewing each other’s chapters within the authoring group. This exercise provided an initial opportunity to assess, grammar, language, the use, or overuse of acronyms, and finesse language and comprehension. The second peer review involved an external cohort of colleagues from other Australian universities who provided a similar overview but from an external perspective. A third peer review was undertaken using a tool called Hypothe.sis. This tool is a plug-in in Pressbooks and allows for social annotation with students. It is also a useful tool to implement as part of a peer review process. All commentary is contextualized within the chapters and responses are received by email and easily edited.
Front and back matter was important to include as part of the publication process. Including the front and back matter provided completeness to the work and offered context to the reader. The front matter introduced the new work and helped the reader understand the evolution of its creation and the back matter included a glossary and appendix.
The open education philosophy seamlessly interconnects with RMIT Library’s ethos of sharing knowledge and supporting learning. RMIT Library is well positioned to work with academic staff to create, produce, and disseminate open works via open platforms for maximum impact, and the library as publisher, can lead and shape the transformation of curriculum pedagogy where every learner is supported and valued.