A Walk Through the OER Review Process

Dylan WoodcockBlogs

Reviewing Open Educational Resources (OERs) is integral to the Open Education movement. It’s a fundamental step in expanding access to education at our partner institutions. At Campus Manitoba, we fully support this movement and the people who carry it forward. We want to make it easier for faculty to understand what they’re signing up for when they agree to review an open textbook.

What is an OER review?

This is when a faculty member at a Manitoba post-secondary institution writes an evaluation of an OER from our online collection. We then publish the review on the open textbook sites of Campus Manitoba and BCcampus, under a Creative Commons Attribution License. It means that if you consent to share your review, others are able to read it as part of their own OER search. They can use your comments, criteria rankings and general evaluation to assist their evaluation of an open text.

The review process takes some time. But, it is straightforward and has many benefits. Let’s break it down:

Apply

When you select an OER to review from our repository, it should match your subject area or specialization. You must be teaching within this discipline at a post-secondary institution in Manitoba, and you need to provide a brief description of your teaching responsibilities and qualifications. Your application will then be reviewed to ensure you meet the criteria noted in the review and selection process. You can apply to review up to two OERs at a time.

Read and Review

Textbook with words. The OER Review process involves analyzing a text in our repository.
The OER Review process involves analyzing a text in our repository (Unsplash).

Once your application is accepted, you can download a digital copy of the OER.  Some reviewers prefer to read the text digitally, and others enjoy hard copies. If you’re a hard-copy reviewer, you can contact us and we will help you get the copy you need.

We will send you an email outlining our acceptance of your application and a review criteria rubric. You can also expect an emailed link from our partners at BCcampus to the review portal. Once there, you can rank a variety of criteria and share comments on the text. You have three months to complete your review.

Share

Once complete, your review accompanies the text in our OER repository. This allows anyone who views the collection to see your rankings and comments as part of their own review process.

Sharing reviews is helpful to future OER users because the reviews determine how a particular text can suit a person’s teaching and learning needs. Seeing reviews streamlines the text-selection process for busy faculty members by giving an overview of specific features of the text.

Reviews also contribute to a broader sense of community-building in Open Education. Subject-area experts across institutions engage in a critical and insightful examination of the texts in our collection. OERs are always works-in-progress, so a review gives subject-area experts the opportunity to improve OERs down the road.

Compensation

With support from the Government of Manitoba, Campus Manitoba provides an honorarium of $250 to each person who completes a review within the three-month time frame. We recognize that reviews enhance the impact of Open Education in our province, and we are grateful for the time subject-area experts give in order to enhance our OER collection.

Adopt and Report

If the OER you reviewed seems like a suitable replacement for your traditional textbook—or a good addition to your course materials—share the link with your students, distribute digital copies or encourage students to print. You can also customize the resource to your needs by modifying the content (and we can help facilitate this).

Let us know if you adopt an OER into your curriculum. This allows us to track the ever-increasing sum of student savings in the province.

To date, savings in Manitoba are well over $1 million. This means that students are spending much-needed funds in other areas of their lives, rather than forfeiting hundreds of dollars on commercially published texts.

What are the big-picture benefits of OER reviews?

Four individuals conversing around a table with pens and paper.
OER Reviews increase collaboration among subject-area experts (Unsplash).

A common misconception about OERs is that they’re lower in quality. In many cases, though, students perceive OERs as equal or better than their traditional counterparts. A major goal of OER reviews is to assess the quality of open textbooks so other faculty and the public can rely on them as educational resources. These reviews can also:

  • raise faculty’s awareness of existing open textbooks and their benefits;
  • help faculty find open textbooks through credible repositories;
  • create faculty engagement with OERs, spanning subject areas and academic communities;
  • get feedback from faculty on how to expand the OERs’ role in curriculum development.

For more information on OERs and how you can support their development, Campus Manitoba is here to help. We can direct you to many resources and connect you with experts who can guide you through the creation process.