Thursday, April 12, 2018 News

SPARC Expands Open Education Leadership Program Following Successful Pilot

Open Education

Applications to join the 2018-2019 cohort of SPARC's professional development program for OER librarians will begin the week of April 23

As a library membership organization, SPARC continuously evolves our programming in order to equip our members to lead on Open issues and capitalize on the benefits this brings to campus. Last fall, we launched our pilot Open Education Leadership Program in answer to our membership’s growing demand for professional development for new leaders of open education initiatives and to build the library as a locus of OER expertise. The pilot was a first—not only for SPARC, but the first initiative of its kind—and seven months later we could not be more proud of how our pilot cohort has grown and helped us improve the program for the better. Now, we are excited to move forward with next steps.

SPARC is pleased to announce that we are officially launching our Open Education Leadership Program this fall, building on our successful pilot. The program is open to U.S. and Canadian academic library professionals who want to take their work on open education to the next level, whether that’s starting a new initiative or building on an existing one. We will begin accepting applications to enroll in the 2018-2019 cohort starting the week of April 23, and SPARC member institutions receive priority enrollment and a discounted tuition rate.

Click here to sign up to be notified when applications open.

About the Program

The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program is an intensive professional development program to empower library professionals with the knowledge, skills, and connections to lead successful open education initiatives that benefit students. The two-semester program blends online, peer-to-peer, and project-based learning to build a comprehensive understanding of the open education space coupled with practical know-how to take action on campus and beyond. Fellows participate as part of a cohort that becomes a vibrant community of practice, enhanced by expert instructors and mentorship support.

  • Participate in an intensive, semester-long online course during the fall to gain comprehensive knowledge of Open Education, stakeholder engagement, and how to design an initiative on campus.
  • Plan and execute a capstone project during the spring that has an impact on open education locally and that contributes back to the broader movement.
  • Develop a vibrant community of practice among a cohort of peers, and grow as a leader through mentorship support.  
  • Attend the Open Education Conference, and receive additional guidance to make the most of the experience and start building a network.

The program is designed to benefit U.S. and Canadian library professionals with any level of experience with open education, including those just getting started with a new initiative and those with more experience looking to take their work to the next level. By putting practice, community, and real-world impact at the center, the program provides an environment where participants learn and grow from each other, not just the curriculum.

“The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program gave me the tools I needed to turn my abstract ideas into actionable projects for supporting Open Education at my institution,” says Abbey Elder, Open Access & Scholarly Communication Librarian at Iowa State University, regarding her experience in the pilot. “The best part of the SPARC Program is the connections you can make with other people who are engaged and active in supporting Open Education. Getting together to discuss our unique situations and the projects we each wanted to tackle was one of the highlights of the program for me.”

Pilot Outcomes

Our 2017-2018 pilot is coming to a close, and we could not be more proud of how the pilot cohort has grown and helped make the program better. After completing the intensive online course together during the fall, the fourteen pilot fellows are now in the process of completing their spring semester capstone projects, which range from organizing a large open education symposium to producing an implementation toolkit for a state OER policy. A key takeaway from the pilot has been the powerful benefits of working within a cohort, which developed strong connections and collaborations that will endure beyond the program.

“The most important takeaway from the SPARC Open Education Leadership program was the connection it provided for me to my peers in the cohort,” says Amanda Larson, Open Education Librarian at Penn State University on her experience in the pilot. “One of the hardest parts of getting started is identifying potential partners and collaborators, by going through this program I have built connections with other professionals that will last throughout my career. I can’t overstate how important the bonds we developed through learning and working together in a sustained space has changed the way I work.”

Over the coming month, SPARC will be highlighting the work of the first class of fellows and their capstones projects. For starters, check out this incredible video series produced by Abbey Elder as part of her fall coursework, or this excellent blog post on metadata by Amanda Larson, which will be required reading for next year’s cohort. Fellows have also made significant contributions back to the program by improving course materials and providing feedback ahead of the full launch in the fall. In keeping with SPARC’s commitment to setting the default to Open, we will publish the program curriculum under a CC BY license once it is finalized later this summer.

2018-2019 Enrollment

SPARC will begin accepting applications to enroll in the 2018-2019 cohort of the Open Education Leadership Program during the week of April 23. Library professionals employed U.S. or Canadian academic or research libraries are eligible to apply. The program is designed to be most beneficial to those with job responsibilities related to open education, regardless of role or level of experience. Applicants should be prepared for a significant time commitment: 8 hours per week to complete an online course in the fall, and an average of 5 hours per week to complete a capstone project in the spring. Outcomes include gaining a comprehensive knowledge of open education, making a real-world impact that benefits students, and forging connections with peers and experts to draw on in the future.

The tuition rate for SPARC member libraries is $2,500 covering both semesters, which reflects a grant-funded subsidy available for the 2018-2019 academic year. The non-member rate is $4,250. Participants are required to attend the Open Education Conference on October 10-12 in Niagara Falls, NY as a mandatory part of the program, so participating institutions should budget funding for travel and registration as well. A limited number of additional tuition discounts are available based on institutional need.

Applications will open on the SPARC website during the week of April 23. Applications received by May 11th will be notified by June 1st, and applications thereafter will be considered on a rolling basis as space is available. The program begins on September 24 and runs through May 2019, with a one month winter break.

Further details on the timeline, tuition, and eligibility will be available on our website. To sign up to be notified when applications open, click here. Join us on social media with #LeadOER.

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