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Learning Portal - OER Toolkit : Collaborating



The use of OER has tremendous potential to change education. Advocacy is a core process for addressing this change, bringing the issue to the forefront of the agenda for decision-makers. This module will help both faculty and Centre for Teaching and Learning staff to communicate the value of OER toward influencing decisions that will impact teaching and learning at their colleges and beyond.

Why Collaborate on OER?

Open Education Matters Short Video

Watch this video (Nadia Mireless, 2012) explaining how OER enable pathways for collaboration across stakeholders, toward enhanced course materials and more equitable education for all.

What the Research Says 

  • Quality of Instructional Materials. Sapire and Reed’s (2001) study showed that faculty collaboration on the redesign of open course materials improved the quality of instructional materials--specifically in terms of the materials' ability to scaffold student learning across knowledge domains and to offer enhanced, inquiry-based learning experiences.
  • Student Learning. Azzam’s (2017) study showed that medical students’ collaborative contribution to Wikipedia articles cultivated core medical competencies while helping students to build their identities as digital contributors and socially responsible physicians. The study also revealed how students’ engagement with the content led to improvements in the quality of health-related knowledge disseminated in the global public domain.
  • Faculty Learning. Petrides et al. (2011) found that collaboration with peers around the integration of an open textbook into a statistics course led faculty participants to increase their collaborative practices in subsequent course planning efforts.
  • Sustainability. Petrides et al. (2008) found that when faculty collaborated in the creation of OER, they were more likely to continue creating and sharing content online on a consistent and ongoing basis--suggesting that communities and collaboration play a role in sustaining OER.

Research Cited:

  • Azzam, A. (2017). Why medical schools should embrace Wikipedia: Final-year medical student contributions to Wikipedia articles for academic credit at one school. Academic Medicine, Vol. 92, No. 2.
  • Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton-Detzner, C., Walling, J. and Weiss, S. (2011). Open textbook adoption and use: Implications for teachers and learners. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, Vol. 26, Issue 1: 39.
  • Petrides, L., Nguyen, L., Jimes, C., and Karaglani, A. (2008). Open educational resources: Inquiring into author use and reuse. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Education, Vol. 1, No. 1-2: 98-117.
  • Sapire, I. and Reed, Y. (2011). Collaborative design and use of open educational resources: A case study of a mathematics teacher education project in South Africa. Distance Learning, Vol 32, No. 2: 195-211.

What Students, Faculty, and Library Staff Bring to OER

 What Students Bring to OER

  • Preferences for the types and formats of course materials that work best for them

  • Preferences for how they would like to access course materials

  • Opinions and feedback on the quality or effectiveness of learning materials for their own learning

  • Knowledge of how to contribute to web-based instructional materials with their own content or aggregated information

 What Faculty Bring to OER

  • Knowledge of course objectives

  • Understanding of student needs and learning styles

  • Expertise in evaluating resources for use and application in a course

  • Experience in constructing and authoring instructional materials

  • Expertise in various pedagogical approaches and curriculum implementation

What Learning Commons Staff Bring to OER

  • Expertise in accessibility, and often accessibility expertise

  • Understanding of copyright and its pitfalls, and of how to select and apply open licenses

  • Knowledge of how to find things and to make things discoverable by others

  • Understanding of the best way to share resources for future audiences

  • Expertise in technology for online authoring and publishing

  • Overall information literacy expertise

  • Experience with the content of college coursework

Ways to Collaborate

Student-Led Wikipedia Assignments

Wiki Education's Classroom Program is an established program for engaging students in collaborative OER projects. Instructors replace traditional research papers with assignments where students write about course-related topics that are underrepresented in Wikipedia. Students synthesize the available literature, and use tools to add the information to Wikipedia.

Instructors who sign up for the Classroom Program have free access to its tools and to support staff.

Open Textbook Sprints

Open Textbook Sprints are collaborative writing sessions inspired by code sprints from the software development world. The goal of a book sprint is to create a book from scratch in a very short time frame. The idea is to gather instructors, instructional designers, library staff, trained facilitators, and others in a face-to-face environment to write and compile a textbook into an online format.

Reach out to eCampus Ontario to see if there are local book sprints that you can join at your institution. Or see the tools section of the module below for information on setting up your own open textbook sprints.


Definition of open textbook sprints is a derivative of the definition provided in Roundup of the Geography Open Textbook Sprint, by BCcampus, licensed under CC BY 4.0

Open Textbook Review

Faculty at Ontario post-secondary institutions can collaborate as paid reviewers of open textbooks. Contact eCampusOntario for more information on how to participate in the review process.

How to Connect

General Listservs

  • The OER Digest. A bi-weekly newsletter for sharing OER initiatives, updates, opportunities, and events serving the international OER community. To join the OER Digest listserv, send an email to

Library Listservs

  • OOLN (Ontario Open Library Network) is a community initiative powered by eCampusOntario to steward the growth of Open Education at Ontario Colleges and Universities.

  • SPARC Libraries & OER Forum. A U.S.-based public discussion list intended for academic and research librarians interested in OER. It serves as a knowledge-sharing forum, a channel for communicating events, and a source of updates on OER policy, research and projects. Join SPARC Libraries & OER Forum Listserv.

Community College and Open Textbook Listservs

  • Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER). CCCOER is a consortium of community and technical colleges committed to expanding access to education and increasing student success through the adoption of open educational policy, practices, and resources. To join CCCOER Listserv, go to Community Email and click on "Join Email Group".

  • Open Textbook Network. The Open Textbook Network (OTN) seeks to help institutions advance their campus open textbook initiatives, and sustain it through staff development and networking. To join Open Textbook Network Listserv, send an email to


  • seeks to support quality online learning experiences across Ontario, through workshops, conferences, and resources--including its open textbook library.
  • BCcampus was the first province in Canada to implement an open education initiative, and have been been paving the way for the rest of the nation to adopt OER.
  • Canada OER Group is a BCcampus initiative comprised of members representing open education initiatives across Canada. The group seeks to ensure that provinces are openly and actively sharing ideas and supporting each other on similar projects.
  • OER universitas (OERu) is a consortium of institutions and organizations across five continents. In Canada, OERu offers free online university courses through various institutional partnerships across provinces so that learners can gain formal credentials.


  • The OER World Map seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of the global Open Education OER movement. Users can search by country for information on people, organizations, services, projects stories and events related to OER.
  • The OER Knowledge Cloud provides access to knowledge and research on Open Educational Resources through a searchable, centralized database.


Open Textbook Sprint - Checklist

Below are tips on how to make open textbook sprints productive. As you set up your sprint, keep in mind that an open textbook is not meant to be just an openly licensed conventional textbook. It is a living text that people will be able to update and adapt to their specific courses and student needs.

  • Build a Strong Team
    Focus on team composition and team building. Recruit at least six writers for the book sprint team and a strong, impartial, facilitator who isn’t invested in your project. Ensure that the Learning Commons is included and present during the sprint sessions.
  • Match Technology to Writers’ Needs
    Select your peer production platform and collaboration tools so that they are in alignment with the writers’ technological skills and practices.
  • Establish an Iterative Workflow Process
    Instill and support an iterative cycle of writing, feedback, and editing, with short feedback cycles integrated throughout.
  • Keep Assignments Small
    Break content assignments into manageable chunks to better assure completion and timeliness.
  • Seed the Sprint
    Before you start, prepare a library of openly licensed materials that can be of immediate use during the sprint.
  • Promote Self Care
    If you have the resources, hire a massage therapist and/or a yoga instructor to help your team, because being at the keyboard for up to 14 hours a day can put a toll on the body.

Open Textbook Sprint - Checklist


The Open Textbook Sprint Checklist is a mashup of material from How To Turn A Great Idea Into An Open Textbook In Just Four Days, by BCcampus, licensed under CC BY 4.0, and How To Collaboratively Develop Open-Source Textbooks, by Free High School Science Texts, licensed under CC BY.

How to collaboratively develop open-source textbooks (in hindsight!)

The guide linked above from South Africa’s Free High School Science Texts provides tips on how to set up a project to produce open textbooks collaboratively.

There are a few platforms on the web that seek to support post-secondary educators in the collaborative development of OER and open textbooks, including:

Grande Prairie Campus
10726 - 106 Avenue
Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4C4
Phone: 1-780-539-2939
Fairview Campus
11235-98 Avenue
Fairview,AB T0H 1L0
Phone: 1-780-835-6750