Resource

Connect OER FAQ

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 currently in its pilot phase. While use of the directory and data is open to the public, participation in creating campus profiles is only open to SPARC member institutions. Login information for these institutions was distributed to the campus library director on file on May 1, 2017. 

Once the full project is launched, participation will be open to all higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada. If you would like to be notified when we open up profiles to non-member institutions, you can sign up here.

At this time, we do not have plans to expand beyond North America, and encourage you to check out other platforms for mapping global activities such as the OER World Map.

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 deeply, 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 pilot 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 Brady Yano.

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Getting Involved With Connect OER

Who can get involved with Connect OER?

SPARC leaves it to the discretion of each institution’s library director to decide where, when and how others participate in Connect OER. In most cases, library directors will designate a Point of Contact for the project who will manage the account. So, that’s the best person to contact if you want to get involved.

What if I want to contribute to Connect OER but can’t reach my institution’s Point of Contact?

SPARC is a coalition of academic research libraries, and therefore defers to each institution’s library leadership to decide where, when and how to participate in Connect OER. If would like to contribute, but have not been able to get involved through your library, you are welcome to contact us for assistance (although we cannot offer any guarantees).

Another way to share information about your work is through the OER World Map, which anyone can join and contribute to.

How do I get login information? 

Login information for SPARC member institutions was distributed to the library director on file on May 1, 2017. We are happy to re-send the information if the library did not receive it.

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).

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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 not be publicly released, nor 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 or if you want to copy text written by someone else), 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.

What if I believe that something in Connect OER is plagiarized?

Please contact us 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?

To create a new Campus Activity form, contact your institution’s Point of Contact. Through the Administrative Home Page, they will be able to provide you with the appropriate Access Link to get started.

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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Completing Your Annual Impact Report

What is the Annual Impact Report?

Annual Impact Reports collects basic metrics about OER use and progress on campus to track the impact of OER over time. These reports are intended to be updated frequently as you gather more information about your campus, both during the current year and for past years. Each institution will enter one report per academic year, and may edit past years over time. Institutions may enter Annual Impact Reports retroactively back to the 2007-2008 academic year.

Annual Impact Reports collect the following information for each academic year:

  • Number of Students Using OER: The number of student enrollments in courses that use OER as the primary instructional material. This number should be calculated by making a list of all of the sections in all of the courses in all of the semesters, looking up the student enrollment, and adding it together. Individual students should be counted each time they are enrolled in a course using OER, i.e. if a student takes two courses using OER in a particular year, they should be counted twice.
  • Number of Faculty Using OER: The number of unique faculty members who taught at least one class during the academic year that used OER as the primary instructional material.If there are multiple faculty teaching different sections of the same course, each should be counted separately. Each faculty member should only be counted once each year, regardless of the number of classes they teach.
  • Number of Courses Using OER: The number of unique courses that had at least one section during the academic year that used OER as the primary instructional material. Unique courses mean that there should be a unique course name/number, and each course should only be counted once each year, regardless of the number of sections or semesters it is taught.

There is also an optional OER Awareness rating scale, where you can record subjective observations about the level of awareness of OER among key constituencies, including the Administration, Faculty, Library and Students.

What counts as “using OER” for the purposes of these reports?

In general, for the purposes of this report, “using OER” means that faculty have assigned OER as the primary instructional material in a course offered at your institution. Sometimes it may be clear cut, for example a faculty member who adopts an OpenStax textbook as the primary instructional material would clearly count. However, there may be cases where it is more complicated, for example if a faculty member assigns only one chapter of an OpenStax textbook, along with a set of other resources that may or may not be open. Below are some general guidelines for what to include and exclude.

  • Include all classes that use OER as the primary instructional material, even if there are non-open resources assigned. For example, include cases where there are compilations of resources that include free and library licensed resources, so long as OER makes up the majority. Also include cases where there is an open textbook assigned alongside proprietary homework software (so long as the homework software would not be considered the primary instructional material for the course).
  • Exclude classes that use OER as only a secondary or optional instructional material. This would mean excluding cases where compilations of resources include only a small amount of OER (even if the end result is free to students), or if OER is provided as an optional alternative to a traditionally published resource. Also exclude courses that do not assign any materials at all, unless OER is suggested as an option.

We should note that the guidelines above are only for the purposes of Connect OER, and we understand both that campuses may track their numbers differently locally, and that these metrics may not capture all forms of progress toward OER. We have set these guidelines to ensure that we can compare apples to apples when we track these numbers nationally, and encourage you to continue using your own systems for tracking progress as well.

How do I track all of these numbers? Do you provide any tools?

We have created a spreadsheet that we encourage you to make a copy of. This tool will allow you to easily calculate metrics on OER adoptions including number of students, faculty and courses using OER.

For each Annual Impact Report, we also provide two boxes for you to provide a public description of your methodology, and also put private notes, where you can explain for your own recollection how you calculated the numbers provided.

When should the Annual Impact Report be submitted?

We recommend submitting your institution’s Annual Impact Report by July 1 of each year. This will ensure that your institution’s progress is included in our Connect OER Annual Report, which is typically released in August.

Why is the Annual Impact Report important?

The Annual Impact Report serves as a means to track institutional progress on an annual basis. Institutions will be required to fill out academic year, the number of students impacted and the level of OER awareness on campus. This is also an opportunity for your institution to track multiple other fields including both private and public methodology notes.

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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 software code will be published openly on the SPARC GitHub page once the pilot phase is complete. The code is licensed under a MIT License. You are welcome to use the code in any way you find useful!

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