Thursday, October 5, 2017 News

SPARC Launches Pilot of First-of-Its-Kind Professional Development Program for Open Education Librarians

Open Education

October 5, 2017

Nicole Allen,
[email protected], 202-750-1637

SPARC Launches Pilot of First-of-Its-Kind Professional Development Program for Open Education Librarians

Washington, D.C. (October 5, 2017) – Today, SPARC announced the pilot of the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program, a first-of-its-kind intensive professional development initiative aimed at empowering open education leaders within academic libraries. Over two semesters, the program offers training for library professionals to support the use, development, and advocacy of open educational resources and practices in North American higher education, with emphasis on leadership skills. Open educational resources (OER) are freely available academic materials that can be downloaded, edited, and shared to better serve all students.

“Interest in open education has grown exponentially among academic and research libraries, and open education librarianship is beginning to gain traction as a field,” said Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC. “As more libraries seek to add open education capacity to their staff, the goal of our program is to empower a new wave of library professionals as leaders for open education on campus.”

The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program spans two semesters, beginning with an eight-week intensive online course in the fall to build open education subject matter expertise, followed by a mentored capstone project in the spring to build leadership skills. The pilot cohort consists of fourteen fellows selected from SPARC member libraries who will participate both as students and creators, helping to improve and hone the curriculum between now and April 2018. The pilot will be conducted primarily online, although the entire cohort will meet face-to-face next week at the 14th Annual Open Education Conference in Anaheim, CA.

“Our program places an emphasis on leadership and the skills needed to effectively drive culture change toward openness on campus,” said Dr. Tanya Spilovoy, who designed the program curriculum and will lead instruction for SPARC. “Library professionals already possess key skills for supporting the discovery, creation and use of open educational resources. Our focus is to expand on that skillset to empower confident advocates who can rally the campus around advancing open education to benefit students.”

SPARC, which was founded in the 1990’s in response to the rising cost of academic journals, launched its Open Education program in 2013, accelerating academic library engagement in the open education movement. Last month, SPARC released a report summarizing the state of OER at SPARC member institutions, which found that nearly all of the 65 participating institutions listed the library as involved in OER activities. The report also found that one in three of the libraries now have a staff position with explicit OER responsibilities, underscoring the potential need for professional development opportunities.

SPARC plans to fully launch the Open Education Leadership Program in the fall of 2018 following the conclusion of the pilot. The program will be open to library professionals at higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada, with priority enrollment and a tuition discount for SPARC member libraries. Participants who successfully complete the program will receive formal recognition as SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellows.

In keeping with SPARC’s commitment to setting the default to open, all resources developed for the program will be published openly under a Creative Commons Attribution license following the pilot. The program also puts the principles of open education into practice by incorporating and building on existing openly licensed resources from a variety of sources, including Washington state’s Librarians as Open Education Leaders program.

For more information on the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program, visit the program webpage and follow the hashtag #LeadOER.


SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. Learn more at

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