SPARC Projects

Open Education Leadership Program

Open Education

Empowering Libraries to Lead the Way on Open Education

Open Education Leadership 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. The program enrolls library professionals in the U.S. and Canada.

Program Outcomes

The program is designed to benefit 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 and mentors learn and grow from each other, not just the curriculum.

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of how to approach the discovery, creation, adoption, licensing, and stewardship of open educational resources and how this connects to open pedagogy.
  • Develop skills to define, communicate, and advocate for open education to a wide variety of stakeholder audiences.
  • Learn how to assess local needs and barriers relating to open education, and design an initiative to address them.
  • Gain practical experience planning, implementing, and assessing an open education project that both has an impact locally and contributes back to the community.
  • Develop as a leader through personalized feedback, mentorship, and peer-to-peer support.
  • Build a network within the open education community, both through a cohort of peers and access to leading experts in the field.

Cohort Profiles

Pilot Cohort Group Picture

2017-2018 Cohort

2018-2019 Cohort

2019-2020 Cohort Profile Picture Array

2019-2020 Cohort

What Fellows are Saying

“The most important takeaway from the SPARC OER Leadership program was the connection it provided for me to my peers in the cohort. 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.”
— Amanda Larson, Open Education Librarian, Penn State University

 Who Should Consider the Program

  • Eligible applicants must be library professionals employed at an academic or research library (or consortium) in the U.S. or Canada. SPARC member libraries will receive priority.
  • The program is designed to be most beneficial to those with job responsibilities related to open education. This may include any type of role within the library and does not require past experience with open education.
  • Applicants should be prepared for a significant time commitment (8 hours per week in the fall, 5 hours per week in the spring) and have the support of their library and/or supervisor to participate.
  • Applicants should be available to attend the Open Education Conference in Phoenix, AZ on October 30-November 1, 2019 (institutions are responsible for their own travel/registration).


We are able to offer a subsidized tuition rate for SPARC member libraries for the 2019-2020 cohort. Institutions are expected to sponsor tuition on behalf of the accepted applicant, and will be asked to sign a standard enrollment agreement.

  • SPARC Member Rate: $2,500 USD / $3,300 CAD
  • Non-Member Rate: $4,000 USD / $5,300 CAD

Tuition is inclusive of both semesters, but does not include travel.

A limited number of additional tuition discounts to support less-resourced institutions are available. Requests for a tuition discount form can be made at the time of application.


Participants are required to attend the Open Education Conference on October 30-November 1, 2019 in Phoenix, AZ. This conference is the central event of the open education community, and is an important experience to both connect with the community and meet in person with instructors and members of the cohort. Institutions are responsible for making their own arrangements for travel and funding.

Participants are also strongly encouraged to plan on attending at least one additional OER conference during their fellowship. This may be satisfied by any number of regional or local OER conferences, and SPARC can provide guidance for which one might meet each individual’s personal needs.

Application & Selection

The general application process for the 2018-2019 cohort has concluded. All applicants were notified of their application status on or around May 31. Candidates at Canadian institutions may contact us for information about available spots until June 14th.

Please visit our FAQ for further information. For questions not addressed in the FAQ, please contact Nicole Allen.


Tanya Spilovoy, Instructor

Tanya Spilovoy, Ed.D. leads instruction for SPARC’s Open Education Leadership Program, a first-of-its-kind professional development program to empower librarians as leaders for successful open education initiatives. Tanya designed the program’s curriculum and innovative format that blends online, peer-to-peer and project based learning.

Tanya has a two-decade career in higher education leadership, during which she has led numerous education technology and open education initiatives. Currently, she serves as Director of Open Policy for WCET, where she leads the Z Initiative which focuses on the policy, practice, and implementation of Open Educational Resources in states, systems, and higher education institutions. Previously, she served as the Director of Distance Education and State Authorization at the North Dakota University System where she also led a statewide OER Initiative.

Tanya received her B.A. in English from Union College, a M.A. in Education from Hamline University, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Organizational Change from Benedictine University.

Photo of Nicole Allen

Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education

Nicole Allen oversees the Open Education Leadership Program as part of SPARC’s Open Education portfolio. A veteran grassroots organizer and pioneer of the Open Education movement, Nicole infused the curriculum with more than a decade of history and proven strategies for effective change. Nicole manages the mentorship component of the program, and works with fellows to build networks in the Open community.

Nicole was inspired by the idea of open education as an undergraduate student, and has dedicated her career to advancing the vision of a world where everyone, everywhere has access to knowledge. Now an internationally-recognized advocate and leading voice in the movement for Open Education, she has been widely cited in the media and has given hundreds of talks and trainings in more than a dozen countries.

Nicole joined SPARC in 2013 to develop and launch a program on open education. Under her leadership, SPARC’s open education program has been a driving force behind accelerating the Open Education movement within the academic library community. Throughout the last decade, she has spearheaded advocacy efforts that contributed to significant policy victories, including securing Congressional funding for an open education grant program, establishing an open licensing policy at the U.S. Department of Education, and passing state and federal legislation to reform anti-consumer practices by the textbook publishing industry. Nicole’s career began in 2006 at the Student Public Interest Research Groups, following her graduation from the University of Puget Sound with a BA in Philosophy.

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