Joanna Schimizzi
Material Type:
Creative Commons Attribution

Outreach, Advocacy & Capacity Building Strategies

Outreach, Advocacy & Capacity Building Strategies


By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  • Develop an Outreach Communication Plan
  • Prioritize which Capacity Building Opportunities they will explore

OER Outreach & Advocacy

Campuswide OER Advocacy Tips (see pages 25-30 in the OER Playbook)

Focus on the Why - Focus on the problem that OER can solve for your stakeholders. For administrators, this might be textbook costs; for teachers, it might be lack of quality content.

Maintain Objectivity - Listen and maintain your position of why. Being aware of the barriers to change will better equip you to relate to their challenges.

Engage the Engaged - At the early stages of change, spend much of your effort on those who are listening. These are the early adopters, and they align with your “why.”

Reinforce the Change - Keep your early adopters engaged through reinforcement strategies. Seek their feedback, showcase their work, and know what they are doing next.

A helpful resource to show the impacts of OER adoption in Higher Education is this summary of empirical research by the OpenEd Group 

OER Advocacy Steps

1. Tap Into Core Advocacy Skills - Successful OER advocacy requires a range of skills, knowledge, and interests, including the following:

  • Passion about the concept of open
  • Clarity on the economic and pedagogical benefits of OER
  • Insight into how the policy environment may constrain or enable OER use
  • Understanding of the pros and cons of different open licensing arrangements
  • Access to practical examples of OER used to illustrate key points
  • Up-to-date knowledge of the arguments for and against the use of OER
  • Ability to engage audiences effectively
  • Capacity to leverage students, administrators, teachers, and librarians and other staff as advocacy partners

2. Understand Your Policy Context - Before embarking on your advocacy effort, it is important to review the following policies that might impact the adoption of OER at your institution.

  • Intellectual property policies and employment contracts – These address how works created by staff within the scope of employment may be shared with or used by others. Under the United States Copyright Act, the author of the work is generally the owner of the copyright. However, if a work is created within the scope of the author’s employment, the employer holds the copyright unless there is an agreement to the contrary. Check your institution's intellectual property policies and employment contracts, or contact your library and/or intellectual property office for information on faculty and staff rights as creators and sharers of educational materials.
  • Human resource policy guidelines – These outline whether the creation of certain kinds of work (e.g., learning resources) constitutes part of the job description for faculty and staff, and what the implications are for remuneration and promotion purposes. It is important for OER creators and remixers to understand if their work will be funded and if it could be applied to tenure or promotion opportunities, for example.
  • Technology policy guidelines – These address access to and use of appropriate technology and technical support, as well as provision for version control and the storage systems for the institution’s educational resources. This impacts your OER work in concrete ways, providing clear strategies and guidelines for how to publish OER, how to manage remixes and versioning, and it can ensure that OER is discovered by those interested.
  • Materials development and quality assurance policy guidelines – These help ensure appropriate selection, development, quality assurance, and copyright clearance of works that may be shared. This category also encompasses library collection development policies and guidelines, and whether those policies explicitly support OER and open access as part of collection building.
  • Textbook and instructional materials adoption, ordering, and approval policies – These policies and practices are usually set by a college/university or instructional division and govern who can make decisions about textbook adoption, how adoptions are approved, and what criteria are used to approve textbook adoptions.

3. Understand the Barriers to OER Adoption Understanding the barriers to OER and why your stakeholders may be resistant to its adoption will help you to better tailor your advocacy strategy to specific audiences. Barreirs may include:

  • Gaps in technical skills to identify OER  
  • Content curation and developemnent costs
  • Instructor training costs
  • Skepticism around OER quality
  • Lack of time, incentives, knowledge to work with OER
  • Lack of curatorial and collaborative workflows to support OER
  • Misalignment between open licensing and campus copyright guidlines
  • Lack of knowledge about intellectual propery rights and open licensing 

4. Tailor Your Message - Sharing your passion and reason for being an OER champion is powerful, but what about your audience? Before presenting any change initiative, consider who is in the room and what is in it for them.

5. Formative Evaluation of your OER Program - A sustainable OER program involves not just a one-time evaluation of outcomes but an iterative process of formative evaluation and improvement to the program based on research findings and progress towards those success indicators.

6. Identify Your High-Impact Engagement Strategies - Below are some engagement strategies that have been identified by OER implementation project leads and that are encouraged for exploration.

  • Formal Presentation: Securing a time slot with one stakeholder group can allow you to focus on their interests and change their perspective on OER. Speaking the language of those in the audience is a stepping stone to cultural change.
  • Informal Sharing: Sharing your personal story is a great way to declare yourself as an OER champion in your community and can draw engagement and interest from people in a way that educating and informing may not.
  • Call to Action: Providing a clear “next step” when sharing information, presenting, or communicating via modeling or social media can drive interested parties to become implementers rather than consumers.
  • Modeling: The “unknown” of change can be the biggest barrier. Modeling the outcomes of change and helping people observe what the end state will or can be is a way to alleviate change-related apprehension.
  • Social Media: Consider blogging, tweeting, and posting on listservs as important tools for advocacy and outreach. A way to start is to read and comment on relevant blogs and to follow other educators who are writers and influencers on OER.

Planning Prompt:

Share your Outreach Communication Plans by replying to the group discussion here 

Note: You will need to be logged in and join the OER Playbook Group to be able to reply to the discussion.

​​​​Identify your target audience and outreach goals -

  • Content of your outreach – What do you want to share? Be sure to clearly communicate the value add for your intended audience, as well as any relevant links, images, resources, videos, etc.

  • Outreach method – How will you share? (social media, blog, website, listservs, presentation, etc.)

  • Outcome and impact – What action do you hope others will take as a result of your outreach?

Capacity Building

There are various opportunities to explore to build capacity for your OER initiative. Identify which options you will prioritize below:

Build a Culture of Open on your Campus (see pages 22-24 in the OER Playbook)

  • Engage different stakeholders, such as administrators, faculty, and students, and their respective advisory boards and councils.
  • Meet with members of different campus departments, such as IT, registrar, the bookstore manager, and department heads, to yield information about what kind of work has already been done to increase awareness of OER
  • Identify ways the institution has already operationalized OER, such as course marking in course catalogs, engagement with the bookstore, or through department messaging.
  • Invite other stakeholders to meetings and share information about the impact of the OER initiative.
  • Maintain a list of OER courses and the faculty teaching them and invite those instructors to share their work at campus meetings or showcases.
  • Recognize and celebrate faculty contributions and acomplishments.
  • Include open publishing in tenure, promotion, and reappointment processes, for example DOERS3 has developed a Tenure and Promotion Matrix and guidelines for institutions looking to make open publishing part of tenure and promotion.

OER Funding (see pages 32-34 in the OER Playbook)

  • Institutional Funding -  
  • State Funded OER Grants - 
  • Federal Grants -
  • Philanthropic Grants - 

Professional Learning Opportunities 

Build an Institutional Hub on OERTX 

If you are interested in participating in building a Hub, contact

Institutional Hub Examples on OERTX: Austin Community CollegeSan Jacinto CollegeHouston Community College

New OER Releases in 2023-2024

  • OER Research in Texas
  • 8 Nursing OpenStax Textbooks published in Spring 2024
  • D2S2 Hubs for Reading, Writing, Math

Join Digital Learning News & Events Group 

OER Conferences 2023-2024