Today, in the final session at the OEO Summit the eCampusOntario Fellows got to lead discussion groups of particular interest to us with participants from all areas of academia. My station was focused on “planting seeds.” What I really wanted to hear about from educators was how they could leave today feeling empowered to take action on their campuses. I was asking about small steps, but many people had larger visions than I expected. Here is a summary of what they said.


Participants had so many ideas. This is a brief summary of what I could capture. Please comment below with more actionable items and/or expand on some of these ideas.

Changes to One’s Own Practice.


Probably the most immediate thing we can do is change our own practice. If you are teaching a course check the eCampus library, OER Commons or other sources  to see if there are resources you could use. As Billy said earlier in the day, faculty can also choose to adapt and contextualize open resources, making them more meaningful to students and improving engagement with material. 

Help Others.

Those who are engaged in openness “off the side of their desk” feel the need to spend more time on it. One participant immediately indicated that she needed to respond to that email from someone interested in openness. Responding to inquiries helps to build community. 


Share key messages from OEO and TESS with colleagues. There are may ways to share. Choose hte one that makes the most sense for you. 

Connect on Social Media.

Twitter is a popular place for discussion of openness. If all you do when you return to your campus is engage with others online or in person that is an important step towards open practice.

I can tweet and be a champion

I can tweet and be a champion

1:1 or Small Group Interaction.

Most groups echoed the need to find time to talk to each other. In-person conversations in the hallway often have the most impact. If you share with one person on your campus – just talk to one person on your campus – about what you learned at this summit that is powerful. Openness spreads by talking about it. Conversations can help to break down assumptions and explore the possibility of sharing.

Pexels / Pixabay

Find Your People.

Find the people who already share. Find out who is already doing something they may not even know is open. Find people who are already embracing the philosophy of openness like IT professors. It is already part of the culture. Talk to them. Develop a community of practice.

For example, at Cambrian we have started bi-weekly open discussions. Everyone is invited to participate. These meetings are a chance to connect with educators considering and exploring openness on a regular basis. 

Drawing: "How Can We Open Up?" by Sarah Wendorf from an open discussion with faculty and staff

Drawing: “How Can We Open Up?” by Sarah Wendorf from an open discussion with faculty and staff

Find the Champions.

Most groups talked about needing to find our champions and amplify their work. Find out who is already being open. How do we uncover these buried champions? Ask these people to share what they are doing and the impact it has on students. 


Connect with Students.

Students can be powerful advocates. Ask students to share the impact of textbook costs on their lives. One institution had students place stickies on a wall to show how much they spent on books (and gave them a cookie for doing so). Empower them to ask their educators for better options when they are available. Student voices are powerful.

Crash Meetings.

The need to talk to faculty and instructional designers at meetings was voiced. Don’t wait to be invited – invite yourself! The key take-home messages from conferences like this need to make it back to people who influence course design – instructional designers. 

Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds


some participants talked about the need to choose steps wisely. What is the path of least resistance? When there may be resistance (or a fear of it) what are the things you can do that cause fewer waves? Talking to select people before going campus-wide may be a path of least resistance.

One librarian shared that she has an action plan for the library. It is continually updated, incorporates strategic partnerships and is evidence based. she adds to it whenever she comes across new evidence.


When thinking about a path of least resistance, the question arose: What barriers are not real? How much of the hesitation to engage in openness comes from fear instead of reality. Isn’t openness just sharing? We should be talking about how sharing is a good thing and can save work in the end. Instead of focusing on the movement, maybe talking about how openness helps to solve problems is a better approach. What problem does openness solve? Think practical. Start the conversation with a focus on solving faculty problems. Will it help with engagement, access to resources, affordability …

What problem does OER solve?

What problem does OER solve?

Talk about the benefits of using advanced features like H5P to augment learning. Talk about how they can be as good as or even better than traditional resources. Talk about the integration with what is already happening.

Prove the Need.

People respond to data. Gather data to support the need for openness. How many students are buying books? Build an economic case for openness.

Sharing is a good thing

Sharing is a good thing

Be Realistic.

Recognize time is a factor. When asking faculty to use open resources it is important to help them find them. When asking them to create open resources there needs to be some kind of compensation. When we are planing seeds we need to be cautious that what we are asking is contextually realistic. Adoption is the easiest most efficient entry to openness.


At one campus they did faculty focus groups to determine the focus of open initiatives. These focus groups were facilitated by a professional and gave them the knowledge of what was needed in their context and where. 

Focus Groups

Focus Groups

Strategic Targeting.

Think about where openness makes the most sense. Numerous participants talked bout reaching out to faculty strategically. When possible, tell faculty they are already being open but don’t realize it. Another strategy was to encourage people teaching a course related to an open textbook to review open textbooks and get paid for doing it. Approaching faculty and using open resources in programs like continuing education, where there may be more barriers to accessing library resources makes a lot of sense.

Big textbook publishers have book reps. If we want to become book reps we can bring print copies to educators teaching related courses (ask eCampusOntario for some copies).

Plan Events.

Participants talked about hosting events for faculty such as film screenings and open days. The movie Paywall is being screened at one campus. Others have hosted open days. Having a representative from eCampusOntario visit is a good strategy to answer tough questions about openness.

Plan events

Plan events

Feed People.

Feed them and they will come. Popcorn is essential for movie nights. Cookies for students. At our Open Day we provided lunch.

Food is helpful

Food is helpful


Simple marketing campaigns for both faculty and prospective students can be effective. Institutions or programs have the potential to market the program as one without textbook costs. How can we help this process? 

Closing Remarks.

Many of the ideas in this post may not apply to your context. These ideas come from participants in a variety of roles. What is actionable in your context may be something listed here or something completely different. Please reach out if you want to chat more. Right now the most realistic thing for me to do is engage in communities of practice and make thoughtful decisions.

Full Drawing

Full Drawing













Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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