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Collaborating: sub-module 6 of 8

Through alternative licensing that encourages peer contributions and sharing, OER invites collaboration among faculty, students, library staff, and institutions. This module addresses the benefits and modes of collaboration, and provides examples of collaborative OER efforts to get involved in.


Why Collaborate on OER?

Open Education Matters Short Video

Watch this video explaining how OER enables pathways for collaboration across stakeholders, toward enhanced course materials and more equitable education for all.

4 Reasons to Collaborate

  • Quality of Instructional MaterialsSapire 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 LearningPetrides 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.
  • SustainabilityPetrides 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

Listed below is the knowledge and expertise that students, faculty, and library staff may bring to the development and implementation of 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 own content or aggregated information
  • 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
  • Expertise in accessibility, and often AODA expertise
  • Understanding of copyright and its pitfalls, and of how to select and apply open licences
  • 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

Here is an example of an OER development process. The groups (student, library staff, or faculty) that are involved in each step are identified with a label at the top of the step. In some cases, they overlap across roles to support the OER process, as depicted in the diagram. Although not listed, other collaborators may also play a role in any OER process, such as instructional designers, accessibility services, and the campus bookstore.

  • Library


  • Identify Learning Outcomes and Objectives

  • Library



  • Find and Adapt Existing OER, or Create New OER

  • Library

  • Describe, Store, and Share the OER

  • Faculty


  • Implement OER with Students

  • Library



  • Evaluate and Review the OER

Ways to Collaborate

There are multiple ways to collaborate with colleagues and students on the creation and use of OER. Below are just a few ideas, to get you started.

Wiki Education's Classroom Program - opens in a new window 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 - opens in a new window have free access to its tools and to support staff.

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 - opens in a new window to see if there are local book sprints that you can join at your college. Or see the tools section of this 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, - opens in a new window, by BCcampus - opens in a new window, licensed under CC BY 4.0 - opens in a new window

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

How to Connect


  • 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
  • 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

OER Initiatives in Canada opens in a new window seeks to support quality online learning experiences across Ontario, through workshops, conferences, and resources--including its open textbook library.

How to connect:

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.

How to connect:

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.

How to connect:

  • Canada OER Group invites post-secondary institutions and educators to share information about their OER projects via email at

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.

How to connect:

  • Find out if your institution is part of the OERu consortium by visiting the OERu partner page, and explore ways to assemble and add your own OER-based courses to the OERu program listing.

International OER Initiatives

The OER Knowledge Cloud provides access to knowledge and research on Open Educational Resources through a searchable, centralized database.

How to connect:

  • To submit an article, case study, or other document on your OER initiative to the Knowledge Cloud, visit Knowledge Cloud Contribute.


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.

OER Authoring Tools

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: