OER Toolkit- Sustainability


How can faculty and library staff impact the longevity and success of OER on their campuses? This module provides tools and tips that will help you influence key sustainability levers—from policy, to funding, to training on OER.

In the very early days of OER, a handful of foundations, such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, led the way in funding OER projects across the globe. Today, funding for OER remains limited, although more diversified. Individuals and colleges may explore a range of sources to support their OER work, including those listed below.


International Funds – For example, the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Program provides funding for individuals working on OER and open initiatives, globally.



Provincial Funds – Check out, for example, eCampusOntario’s Open Content Development Fund, and its initiative that pays faculty to review open textbooks.



Local Research Funds – Start by asking your college about existing research grants, and whether the development of OER may be funded as part of those research grants.



Other Local Funds – Check with your college to see if funds, refreshments, or release time are offered for OER projects and events. For example, sprint events can be used to create new OER content.


Attribution:  Introductory text a derivative of content within Starting an OER Initiative, by Open Education Consortium, licensed under CC BY 4.0

To ensure sustainability of OER use and implementation, appropriate training needs to be provided.  Below are resources that can be used to assist in the development of training modules and/or agendas.

Mountain Heights Academy OER Passport Course  This self-paced, online course takes educators through the process of understanding, finding, creating and sharing Open Educational Resources.

Why Policy Matters

  • Having an OER policy in place signifies support from leadership, and creates a safe environment for faculty and library staff to explore the potential of OER.
  • OER policies that incorporate financial and non-financial incentives can help educational institutions nurture the creation and use of OER, toward OER sustainability.
Attribution:  Text is a derivative of content within OER Policy Development Tool, by Lumen Learning, licensed under CC BY 4.0

Engage Decision Makers

To be equipped with knowledge of existing policies and policy gaps, consult with administration in exploring opportunities for developing policies and resources that would allow OER to address your stakeholders’ needs. For example, library staff may experience a lack of policy or guidelines for incorporating OER into their curation workflows. Faculty, on the other hand, may need policy-level support in the form of training, time and funding for OER adoption and use.

Understand Stakeholder Needs

Initiate conversations with faculty, library staff, students and other key stakeholders. Get to know their needs, and build shared understanding around the problem that OER can solve for them. For students, this might be textbook costs; for faculty, it might be lack of accessible, relevant content.

Review Local Policy

As a starting point to your policy-related work, get to know whether there are existing district policies and guidelines in the areas below. When appropriate, consult with relevant stakeholders on these issues.

Intellectual property policies and employment contracts:  These address how creative works generated by staff within the scope of employment may be shared with or used by others. Check your district’s policies on copyright and intellectual property. Collective agreements or employment contracts can also affect copyright ownership. Contact your district office if you need more information. They may be able to direct you to relevant policies and contacts.

Human resource policy guidelines:  These outline whether or not the creation of certain kinds of work (e.g., learning resources) constitutes part of the job description for staff, and what the implications are for remuneration and promotion purposes.

ICT 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.

Materials development and quality assurance policy guidelines:  These address guidelines on the selection, quality assurance, and copyright clearance of works that may be shared. This category also encompasses library collection development policies, and whether those policies explicitly support OER as part of collection building.

Attribution:  Text is a derivative of content within A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources, by Commonwealth of Learning, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Updated May 22, 2019 4:07pm