Deakin’s 2021 OER grant program

This week’s guest blogger Angie Williamson Program Coordinator (Open Education) responds to some questions about Deakin University’s 2021 Open Educational Resources (OER) grants project.

  • What is Deakin trying to achieve with its OER program?

In the Inclusive Digital Education – Learning Resources project, the aim is to increase OER awareness, to build capacity in staff and to increase the usage of OER at the university. Deakin is new to a centrally organised program of OER usage and creation. We have academics who have been using open textbooks in the past, but this program is our first university wide call for projects in OER. Readers of this site will understand the benefits of OER to student equity and success. Within this project, the main action has been a grants scheme to support staff in the exploration and creation of OER. The interest to use and create OER is definitely there, and I feel that the grants scheme has been an enabler.

  • How many grants did you award?

The request for applications generated a high level of interest from right across the university and resulted in a total of 11 projects being included in the program. These range from exploring the OER environment for resources to use in units to the creation of new resources across numerous disciplines.

The creativity, innovation and enthusiasm of those involved has been fantastic. While people often think of OER mainly as open textbooks, OER can also be different types of resources including slideshows, activities or quizzes.

The projects currently underway are not limited to OER textbooks, they are experimenting with a range of formats and resource types. Some of the exciting examples of the OER projects planned include:

  • Open interactive textbook for Early Childhood Education
  • 3D interactive tour of a structure in Architecture and Built Environment
  • Development of a slide deck of MRI images
  • Compilation of case studies relevant to Australian human resources

 As part of the program, there is a community of practice to support the grant recipients in their projects. This has provided a forum to discuss aspects of open such as accessibility in OER, open educational practices and pedagogy with guests and experts drawn from across the university to add to the discussions.

  • Have there been any surprises, unintended benefits or challenges, or insights along the way?

There have been hurdles. As this is the first time there has been a centralised program to create OER at Deakin, there is the need to establish internal processes. A positive aspect has been the acknowledgement of a common interest in OER among the group of academics. While OER seem more prevalent in some discipline areas, our community of practice provides sharing and connection between faculties and departments. A nice surprise has been the collegiality of the wider Australian open education community. The thing about open is just that. It is open! The cross institutional environment of discussion and collaboration has been genuinely supportive. Information and resources from the project will be shared on a website currently under construction so watch for this later in the year.

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