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.

2017-2018 Pilot

Our pilot of the program began in September 2017 with a cohort of 14 fellows selected from SPARC member libraries. Pilot fellows are both students and creators, helping to evaluate and improve the curriculum along the way. Fellows are currently completing capstone projects, and are expected to publish their portfolios by the end of May. To check out what they have been up to, follow the hashtag #LeadOER.

SPARC Open Education Leadership Pilot Cohort

The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program Pilot Cohort at the 14th Annual Open Education Conference in Anaheim, CA, October 2017.

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.

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

2018-2019 Cohort

The 2018-2019 cohort has been filled, and SPARC is no longer accepting applications. We were thrilled to see both the quality and quantity of passionate, committed advocates seeking to take their work on open education to the next level, and could have filled the program several times over with qualified applicants. All applicants have now been notified of our decision, and we look forward to publicly announcing the 2018-2019 cohort in July.

 Who Should Apply

  • 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 Niagara Falls, NY on October 10-12, 2018 (institutions are responsible for their own travel/registration).


We are able to offer a subsidized tuition rate for SPARC member libraries through grant funding available for the 2018-2019 cohort.

  • SPARC Member Rate: $2,500 USD / $3,200 CAD
  • Non-Member Rate: $4,250 USD / $5,450 CAD

Tuition is inclusive of both semesters. A limited number of additional tuition discounts up to 50% will be available based on institutional need. Requests for the tuition discount form can be made at the time of application.


Participants are required to attend the Open Education Conference on October 10-12, 2018 in Niagara Falls, NY. 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.


September 24, 2018 Fall semester starts
October 10-12, 2018 Open Education Conference
December 7, 2018 Fall semester ends
January 7, 2019 Spring semester starts
May 17, 2019 Spring semester ends
June 30, 2019 Certificates of completion issued


The program is led by Tanya Spilovoy, Ed.D, an expert in Organizational Change Leadership, in conjunction with SPARC’s Director of Open Education Nicole Allen, a pioneer of the open education movement.

Openly Licensed Curriculum

In keeping with SPARC’s commitment to setting the default to open, the program’s text and course content will be published under a CC BY license once it is revised after the pilot this summer. We hope that these materials will benefit open education leaders everywhere.

More Information

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

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