Connect OER FAQ

Note: This is legacy content. Connect OER is no longer actively maintained.

Table of Contents

Basic Questions

What is Connect OER?

Connect OER is a platform to share and discover information about OER activities at campuses across North America. Read more information about Connect OER here

Why should my institution participate?

Participating in Connect OER is a unique opportunity to share your institution’s efforts to advance OER with the community, while also contributing to a collective effort that will strengthen ties between academic libraries doing important work to advance OER. Connect OER will keep the community informed of best practices and innovative approaches to advance OER, while inspiring new ideas and collaborations.

Which institutions can participate?

Connect OER is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada. Requests to set up an account be sent to [email protected].

We also encourage both Connect OER participants and those outside the U.S. or Canada to share information via the OER World Map, which is a broader resource aimed at mapping OER activities around the world.

How is Connect OER data licensed?

All data collected by Connect OER (except for email addresses and where otherwise marked) will be released into the public domain under a CC0 Public Domain Dedication. This applies to both data and written narratives. Contributors are asked to acknowledge their release of data entered under a CC0 dedication each time they submit a form.

SPARC considered this decision carefully, and concluded that it was the best way to maximize the value of the directory and dataset. We understand that the use of CC0 for this type of project is not a common practice, and we stand ready to answer any and all questions as they arise.

How is Connect OER data shared?

The purpose of this project is to create a public directory about institutional activities on OER. As such, most of the information collected (except for email addresses and where otherwise marked) is published online through campus profiles and the searchable directory. Contributors are asked to acknowledge their understanding of how the data will be shared when submitting the form. Email addresses and data marked private are treated in accordance with the SPARC Privacy Policy.

The dataset from our first annual report is available here:

Does Connect OER review entries for accuracy? 

Connect OER campus profiles are created by users, and users have the ultimate responsibility for the content. However, a member of SPARC staff reviews each entry before it is publicly posted, and we reserve the right to edit entries for clarity and conformance to guidelines.

Who do I contact with questions? 

For questions about the project, please contact [email protected].

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Joining Connect OER

How do I add my institution to Connect OER?

To add your institution to Connect OER, send an email to [email protected] to request an account. We may ask you to seek approval of the senior library official at your institution to create the account, to ensure that it is maintained by the proper entity on campus. Once you email us, we’ll help you through this process if it is necessary.

What if I want to contribute to my institution’s profile but am not the Point of Contact? 

The best way to contribute to Connect OER is to reach out to the institution’s Point of Contact with your suggested updates. If you are not able to reach your Point of Contact for an extended period of time, you may send an email to [email protected] and we will make an effort to get in touch. SPARC defers to each institution’s Point of Contact on any updates to their content.

We’d also like to mention that there is another great way to showcase information about OER activities, and that is the OER World Map. Whether you are contributing to Connect OER or not, we encourage you to share information through that project.

What if my institution lost its contact information? 

If your institution needs a reminder of its contact information, please have the person listed as the point of contact for your institution’s profile email [email protected] to ask for a reminder. If that person is unavailable, please go ahead and email us, we may just have a couple of additional questions first. We are working on a feature to automate sending reminders that should be available in Fall 2019.

How does login work? 

Connect OER uses a secure link-based login system. Each institution gets a login link that provides access to its Administrative Home Page, where new information can be added. It is important to keep this link private the same way you would protect a username or password, since anyone who has it can edit your information. Each institution only has one administration link, but you can create additional links to edit specific parts of your institutional profile (see Access Links).

If at any time you would like to change the login credentials for your institution, please have the director of libraries contact [email protected].

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Data Use & Licensing

How is my data protected?

All data collected through Connect OER will be handled according to the SPARC Privacy Policy. It has been clearly indicated where data will be shared publicly, and users are asked to acknowledge understanding before submitting data. Email addresses collected through Connect OER will be kept private, as will data that is marked as private.

What if I’m not allowed to release my work under CC0?

If you are concerned that you are not legally able to release your contribution to Connect OER under CC0 (for example because of your institution’s IP policy), you are welcome to contact us for help. While we cannot offer legal advice, we can help write text that can be legally released under CC0.

What if I do not want to release my work under CC0?

We require agreeing to CC0 as a condition of contributing information to Connect OER. We will understand if some people decide not to participate under these terms, but we believe most will agree with us that using CC0 creates the most usable, valuable dataset for these purposes. If you are not comfortable agreeing to CC0, we encourage you to instead share your stories and information through other platforms, such as the OER World Map (and encourage you to do so regardless!)

What if I have concerns about the accuracy or legality of content in Connect OER?

Please contact [email protected] with any questions or concerns over content in Connect OER.

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Completing Your Campus Profile & Activities

What are Campus Activities?

Campus Activities are initiatives or efforts on your campus that relate to OER. There are four types of activities: Program, Policy, Event and Resource. You can enter as many Activities as you wish. The estimated completion time for each form ranges between 5-15 minutes.

How can I add a Campus Activity to my Institutional Profile?

If you have access to your campus’s login information, creating a Campus Activity is simple. Simply go to the Administrative Home Page, and scroll to the section labeled Campus Activities. Click the button to add a new activity, and select the type of activity. Then you will be given the option to enter the information yourself or provide a secure link for a colleague to complete it.

If you do not have access to your campus’s login information, please contact your campus Point of Contact. You can find that information by scrolling down to the bottom of your campus profile.

How do I decide what category a Campus Activity falls into?

Below is some additional information about how to decide whether an activity is a Program, Policy, Event or Resource. Some activities may fit two or more categories, so we just ask that you do your best to pick the best fit. When in doubt, it might be useful to try filling out the form. If some of the questions seem like they don’t make sense, perhaps try a different category.

  • Program: Programs may include projects, initiatives, or other organized efforts on your campus that relate to OER. Common types of programs include OER mini-grant programs, pilot programs, campaigns, or publishing efforts. This category is also the best place to list a task force, committee or staff position. Programs may be past or present.
  • Policy: Policies include any kind of formal statement of a rule, position, process or plan about OER on your campus. This may include formal policies such as intellectual property or tenure and promotion rules, faculty senate resolutions, strategic plans, or processes for marking OER in the course catalog. Policies may be past or present.
  • Event: Events are one-time actions such as workshops, talks, conferences, or presentations about OER that were organized at or by your institution. Events generally do not include off-campus events you have attended. You may include future events if you wish, although the primary purpose is to track past events.
  • Resource: Resources include any type of document, website, article, tool or success story that relates to OER action on campus. This may include LibGuides, slide decks, videos, search tools, or flyers. Please DO NOT list individual OER in this section. We recommend sharing your campus’s OER through a repository intended for that purpose, such as OER Commons or OpenStax CNX.

I submitted a Campus Activity form, but my campus profile page doesn’t show the changes. What happened?

New information always needs to be reviewed by a member of the Connect OER team before it is displayed on the website. Usually this happens within 24-48 hours. If it has been longer than 2 days, you are welcome to contact us for an update on when to expect it will be posted.

How frequently should Campus Activity information be updated?

We recommend adding new Campus Activities as soon as they are started, and doing a full review of your existing Campus Activities at least once per year.

What currency should monetary amounts be listed in?

For questions that require information about monetary amounts, please provide the amount in your local currency (i.e. in USD for U.S. institutions, and in CAD for Canadian institutions). It is NOT necessary to specify “USD” or “CAD” — it will be assumed based on the location of your institution.

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Software & Technical Questions

What software do you use to run Connect OER?

We developed a custom software platform to run Connect OER. It was built by Jan Gondol using Django, and is free and open source.

Where can I get the source code for the software? Can I use it?

The code for Connect OER is published openly on GitHub under a MIT License. You can access the most recent stable version here.

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