Open Education Leadership Program Curriculum

Open Education

Our unique curriculum blends online, peer-to-peer, and project-based learning opportunities to develop participants into subject matter experts with the practical know-how to advance open education initiatives on campus. 



The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program curriculum runs over two semesters, corresponding to the academic year. It begins with an intensive online course in the fall, followed by an independent capstone project with mentorship support in the spring. Fellows complete the program as part of a cohort of peers that adds a rich layer of ongoing support, community, and knowledge-sharing on top of the curriculum. The program is facilitated by an instructor who provides ongoing feedback, support, and evaluation.

Program Outcomes

  • 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.

Fall Semester

The fall semester focuses on building a comprehensive knowledge base on open education, building a network within the cohort and the community, and starting to form a capstone project plan. The bulk of the semester is spent in an intensive online course, and the entire cohort will meet in person by attending the Open Education Conference that provides an opportunity to immerse in the community. The time commitment is 6-8 hours per week.

Intensive Online Course

The first step of the program is an intensive online course facilitated by an instructor. The course is structured into weekly modules, with each module addressing a different theme. Each week, fellows will complete a set of readings and produce an assignment at the end. Fellows will also interact between themselves and the instructor asynchronously through a discussion platform and via weekly live group calls. The primary output of the course is a roadmap for a capstone project.

In keeping with SPARC’s commitment to setting the default to open, all content we developed is published under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Open Education Conference

Early on in the semester, the entire cohort attends the Open Education Conference, the Open Education community’s largest annual event. The conference is an opportunity to immerse in the issue, learn what is happening in the field, and connect with peers.

Spring Semester

During the second semester, fellows will design and implement a capstone project related to advancing Open Education. Fellows will work with mentors to provide guidance throughout the project. Average time commitment 5 hours per week, but will vary based on the capstone project.

Capstone Project

The goal of the capstone project is to put the knowledge gained during the fall into action in a way that will benefit the local community. Capstones should be designed to not only achieve a concrete outcome by the end of the semester, but also produce an output that can be of value to broader community, such as a set of sample materials or a guide. Most of the capstone work happens independently, but fellows are matched with mentors who can provide one-on-one guidance and leadership development support throughout the semester. 

  • Implement an OER grant program
  • Organize a campus-wide Open Education symposium
  • Run an awareness campaign
  • Develop and test a survey instrument
  • Create a policy implementation guide
  • …and more


At the end of the semester, fellows assemble a portfolio reflecting their accomplishments over the course of the program, including a final report on their capstone, their contribution back to the community, and a self-assessment. The portfolio is the basis for final assessments, and each fellow will develop their own rubric by which evaluation will be conducted. Fellows will be able to publish their portfolio on the SPARC website.


Assessment is conducted on a pass or fail basis by the program instructor at the end of each semester. Those who are assessed to have completed the program will receive a certificate in open education leadership, a letter of recommendation from SPARC, and may list on their CV the title of SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellow. Fellows also complete a before and after assessment for the purposes of evaluation of the course, and will be asked to report back annually.

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