Practically practising OER: Reflections on the CAUL OER Professional Development Program: Foundations

Written by:

Dr Sal Kleine, Liaison Librarian, Faculty of Business and Law, QUT

In the role of Library Adviser at the Queensland University of Technology, I provided support for the IFN001: Advanced Information Research Skills (AIRS) unit. In late 2022, the AIRS Team commenced planning for a major unit review, to ensure the continued delivery of a pedagogically informed, engaging, and relevant training program. Whilst the Review is multifaceted and will result in constructive updates to the unit, one thing that won’t change is the ongoing advocacy for open educational practices reflected in the provision of AIRS learning content under Creative Commons licensing. The AIRS content is currently made available via the AIRS website under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Licence. However, given the complexities in maintaining the website, as part of the Review, the AIRS Team is exploring more sustainable approaches to openly providing this material to our QUT Higher Degree Research students and sharing it with external audiences. With this goal in mind, I began my own Open Educational Resource (OER) learning journey, a key part of which was participating in the CAUL OER Professional Development Program: Foundations.

As someone new to this space, the Program offered an introduction to OER in a tertiary education context. The module-based content stepped through introducing and defining OER, licensing and copyright considerations, finding and evaluating OERs and, finally, delved into the intricacies of adopting, adapting and creating OERs. But it wasn’t all reading, and a highlight for me was the weekly guest presentations by experts on various aspects of open education and OER. The sharing of their insights and experiences provoked ideas, questions and new understandings of both the principles and practice of OER. There were also plenty of options for engaging, or working collaboratively, with other participants if desired. The lively discussions in the weekly forums demonstrated the breadth of knowledge and passion in this area and how, as a profession, librarians have the potential to influence the movement towards more open educational teaching and learning activities. Underpinning the learning was a practical task. This involved preparing a Project Plan based on a scenario that could be tailored to suit the participant’s workplace or interests. The Plan provided me with an opportunity to focus my thinking on how to further leverage OERs in the delivery of AIRS, using the production workflows and creation tools introduced as part of the Program.  

By participating in this professional development program, I am building the confidence to meaningfully contribute to the ongoing OER conversation and am better equipped to offer informed advice on the positive impacts of OER. Now, both enlightened and inspired, my next goal is to apply learnings from the Program to, in collaboration with the AIRS Team, develop contemporary OERs that are accessible, inclusive, and representative of our diverse student cohort, and encourage the sharing and reuse of content. So, while I will keep learning and continue to further my understanding of OER, it’s time to start creating!

Register for the 2023 CAUL Open Educational Resources Professional Development Program.

Tackling the challenges of enhancing accessibility of Open Education Resources (OER)

A green and beige horizontal banner that says “ALT TEXT: don’t forget about me”.
Digital Vidya. (n.d). Released under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 4.0 International licence.

Written by

Brian Valionis, University of Southern Australia, placement student

Iain Wilson, Charles Sturt University, placement student

Steven Chang, La Trobe University, Coordinator Open Education & Scholarship

Sebastian Kainey, La Trobe University, Digital Discovery Officer

Content Warning.

Please be advised that this blog post references sexual and gender-based violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or abuse, please call 1800 737 732 (1800RESPECT).

Context of student project

The project was part of a library student placement so students could gain “real world experience in contributing to the creation of an OER. It is to develop approaches for implementing alt text(which refers to captions that describe images) for the La Trobe eBureau book Gender-based violence and healthcare in Timor-Leste which is an OER to be published in English and Tetum (the national language of East Timor).

The value of the project is that it gave the library placement students real world experience in problem solving in an ongoing OER project. This was particularly valuable as it connected to Brian and Iain’s interests in how OERs can reducing educational inequalities.

La Trobe University eBureau

The eBureau was launched in 2016 with the goal of providing La Trobe University students (and the wider community) with access to high quality OER textbooks, this works in conjunction with the La Trobe Opal platform which is an Open Access (OA) research depository.

Importance of addressing violence against women in East Timor

The book is specifically for how East Timor health and allied health professionals can respond to domestic and sexual violence, an important resource as an estimated 34% of women in East Timor have experienced violence in their lifetime (Asia Foundation, 2016). It aims to teach health professionals what is sexual and domestic violence, its prevalence within society, how to recognise the signs, and how to appropriately respond.

Seobility. (n.d). Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licenve.

Importance of alt-text and accessibility in OER

Alt-text refers to alternative text that explains an image, graph, infographic or other visual information through text. As argued by McGinty (2021) and Huntsman (2022) alt text is essential to enhance inclusion, as readers with a visual or other impairment may not be able to access the information in in the graphical material in the text. Additionally, alt text allows the usage of screen readers – software which uses audio to read out the text. This goes to Universal Design – ensuring that in the case of OERs and other textual works, the consideration of how all users can access the information of the text is a core component in creating it.

Challenges of putting alt-text in OER

These next sections will highlight the challenges that the team faced in creating alt text, through an honest discussion of the challenges faced the team hopes that others can see and learn from their problem solving.

Decorative images – alt-text required?

In alt text terms, decorative images refer to graphical components that do not contain relevant information, for example an image background or stock images. The design of the book is based upon engaging East Timorese reading culture and specifically includes images to break up the text into readable components. This means that not all images are going to provide relevant information, as such the decision was made to selectively provide alt text based on its relevance to the content.


In normal circumstances alt text would describe the key and relevant information of a graph as per this example. However, in analysing the book the team noticed that the text already described the relevant data from the graph, so the approach was taken to describe the graphical aspects in relation to the key information.


The challenge in creating alt text for infographics is attempting to reconcile technical limitations of screen readers which can cut off after 100-150 characters, to that of any accurate description being substantially longer than that limit. The team had advice from Nikki Andersen, Open Education Content Librarian at the University of Southern Queensland, to make alt text a separate section to accurately describe the image and the information that it contains. Nikki also provided the team with examples of how alt text could be created for infographics.

Specific example – infographic

In this book the infographics visualise critical components of key information. One example is the image below which shows the domestic violence cycle from page 27 from the book. As such it was highly important that this information be included and accessible to all readers.

Characters are depicted each stage of the cycle of domestic violence: honeymoon phase, tension building phase, threatening phase, angry explosion phase, remorse phase, pursuit and reconciliation phase

This is a proposed alternative text for the above image “Characters are depicted each stage of the cycle of domestic violence: honeymoon phase, tension building phase, threatening phase, angry explosion phase, remorse phase, pursuit and reconciliation phase”. This isn’t the final alternative text but rather an example of how the team made proposals in the drafting process.

Reflection and conclusion

The key lesson from this project was how alt text needs to be relevant and in context with the greater focus of the resource. As this example from Harvard demonstrates, even a relatively simple image will have differing focuses and meaning depending upon the subject of the greater text. In this case the focus in creating alt text was very much upon keeping the information relevant to the key goal of providing information about sexual and domestic violence for health professionals in East Timor.


The team would like to express their utmost gratitude to Nikki Anderson, her assistance and advice was invaluable to the team and the greater project. Nikki has edited an OER, “Enhancing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) in Open Educational Resources (OER) – Australian Edition”.

The team would also like to express their gratitude to Adele Walsh, Senior Coordinator, Community Programs and Engagement who organised the placement and learning opportunities for the students.

Reference list

Andersen, N. (Ed). (2022). Enhancing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) in Open Educational Resources (OER). University of Southern Queensland.

Asia Foundation. (2016). Fact Sheet 4. Sexual Violence against Women in Timor-Leste. Asia Foundation.

Huntsman. S. (2022). An Image for All: The Rhetoric for Writing Alt-Text. 2022 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (ProComm), 61–52.

McGinty. J. (2021). Accessible Digital Learning Materials for Inclusive Adult Education. Adult Learning., 32(2), 96–98.

Running workshops: Sharing our lessons from the CAUL EMC Conference 2022 with the LIS community


Steven Chang, La Trobe University

Beth Price, La Trobe University

Jane Humphreys, La Trobe University

Angie Williamson, Deakin University

Jennifer Hurley, RMIT University

Dr Elham Sayyad Abdi, La Trobe University

CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum conference logo

In September 2022, we ran the Melbourne leg of face-to-face workshops for the CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference 2022. The workshop in the morning, facilitated by Steven, Angie and Jennifer, was about incorporating Open Education Resources into the curriculum. In the afternoon, the workshop focused on learning experience design and its relevance in academic libraries, and was facilitated by Ellie, Beth and Jane. 

Once the workshops were over, we had many observations on how things went and how it felt to get back to face-to-face presentations. We got together in our teams and reflected on our experiences – as we usually do – and we had a number of ideas for how things could be improved for the future, just in case we would want to run our workshops again! 

We did something different this time, though: we decided to share our reflections and experiences with our LIS community in a short blog post just in case it helps those who are planning to run a workshop in the near future. Enjoy reading our reflections.

Mitigating time pressures

For any workshop you have a limited amount of time. You have a lot to share, people have other commitments (so they might not be able to stay in your workshop if it goes over time), and the workshop venue might be booked for another event. So timing of the workshop is super critical – here is our advice: 

  • Don’t underestimate the amount of time participants need for tasks. This is particularly important for tasks that involve any level of complexity, e.g., completing templates, or using toolkits. Five minutes is rarely going to be sufficient for anything involving discussion, writing, or thoughtful contemplation. 
  • Allow sufficient time for participant report-backs on activities, as this can be time-consuming. Also provide a speaking time limit for each table/group for this to avoid rambling.
  • Real-time identification of post-it note themes can be challenging: allow generous time, revisit these during breaks, or forget doing it in real-time and instead do this after the workshop.
  • Minimise the race against time by a) assigning dedicated timekeeping responsibilities to one facilitator, and b) building flexibility into the run sheet so you can recoup time by shortening activities as needed. 
  • Ease participants out of activities smoothly and clearly
    • Use a bell. Ding dong! (or ding a glass cup with a spoon).
    • Enact a clear visual countdown on the screen (use an online tool for this) and give participants notice that this will happen (to ease count down anxiety).
    • Warn participants when 2 minutes left, and at 1 minute left say “start wrapping up”.

Continuous improvement

Any experience design can benefit from an iterative approach where each round of implementation will be informed by lessons from the previous round. There’s a good chance that you would want to reshape and further develop a conference workshop to use it in other different or similar settings. As a result, it would be good to take notes about your workshop and reflect on it after the delivery is over. Here are our suggestions: 

  • Scribble down ad-hoc notes when encountering notable challenges. It’s hard to remember “things you would improve next time” when you’re concentrating on solving them in the moment and keeping the workshop running smoothly. It’s usually easier to take notes if the workshop is co-facilitated (so one of the co-facilitators can take notes while others are running the session). 
  • After all is said and done, share your reflections. In particular, organise a dedicated debrief with your co-presenters to discuss the challenges, barriers, and things you would do differently in the future. Even better – write up these shared reflections and publish them in a concise way on an accessible platform where people in the industry will read and learn from it (like we’re doing now on this excellent blog!).

The online vs F2F nexus

For most of us, this was our first face-to-face workshop after two and a half years of online-only workshops in lockdown. This experience reminded us of the nature of in-person conference workshops and the challenges of coordinating these types of learning experiences. Here are a few reminders from us: 

  • Help participants cut down on distractions. Always print out enough worksheets on the assumption that everyone will need one, so participants can minimise digital noise from their devices. However, equally it is crucial to prevent physical clutter, so ensure these print worksheets are visually signposted and explicitly chunked. For example:
    • organised into clear numbered headings
    • stapled together or at least page numbered
    • verbally referenced by headings/page numbers by presenter instructions.

Otherwise the digital distractions will simply migrate into physical form and participants will spend more time fluttering paper sheets than focusing on the exercise.

  • Assume half the room cannot get into Eduroam. This is frustratingly the norm – If you need people to do something online, act accordingly by providing USB copies and print copies for these people so they can access toolkits and worksheets.
  • Plan how you will capture physical data from the workshop. In the moment it can seem that a smartphone photo snap of post-it notes will efficiently capture all the written information. Often the content of the post-it notes will be unreadable or too low-res to be useful post-workshop. You may want to consider digital methods instead such as Padlet or Popplet.

The golden lesson

Last but definitely not least, there’s one thing we cannot emphasise enough: Practice, practice,  practice. Test as many aspects of your workshop as possible before your live version. So here’s our golden lesson: 

  • Plan and deliver “mock” workshops with trusted colleagues. These are absolutely invaluable because, as workshop designers and presenters, we are often too close to our own material and struggle to inhabit the learner’s perspective. Test workshops solve this problem by providing a second “outside” perspective. Think of these mock runs as a stress test of your run sheet to identify what will or won’t work in the real world – both in terms of technology and the human elements (e.g., microphones dropping out, insufficient time for participant tasks, lack of clarity for activity instructions, too much paper, etc.).

While running conference workshops and sharing knowledge with one’s community of practice helps to connect with others in the sector, presenting to large rooms of attendees can be scary and exhausting, especially if you are back to physical conference sessions after a long time of being online. Hopefully the tips we shared in this blog post will enable you as a future presenter to enjoy the experience as much as your workshop attendees.

Libraries and Open Publishing Case Studies

Libraries and Open Publishing Case Studies

This post was written by Tracy Creagh, Queensland University of Technology, and Team Leader for this Project

A set of open publishing case studies supported by Australian university libraries has been released.

The Libraries and Open Publishing Case Studies Project forms part of the Advancing Open Scholarship (FAIR) program as part of the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) 2020-2022 Strategic Plan.

This project developed a series of five case studies of university libraries’ open publishing initiatives, and accompanying researcher case studies that demonstrate the value of these initiatives. These publishing strategy case studies describe the work of the featured institution, identify critical success factors and sustainability issues and provide evidence of impact via a researcher’s perspective of using the publishing initiative.  The researcher’s impact narratives discuss the benefits of using these various publishing initiatives to improve research impact.  Making their research accessible to relevant organisations outside of the usual academic environment ultimately improves their professional visibility and, most importantly, the value of their research.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is OAPublishing_A-003.jpg

It is anticipated that the case studies may be expanded in the future. An easy-to-use case study format was developed to provide a template for other practitioners who may wish to include their own institutional publishing initiatives in this preliminary group.

Case studies were selected via a scoping activity that utilised Open Access Australasia’s curated Directory of Open Access initiatives in Australasia Directories ( The Directory is a curated list of open access initiatives across Australasian institutions and is comprised mainly of higher education institutions, but also includes research organisations and associations.

Five case studies were eventually selected with team members nominating themselves as authors. 

Key themes around challenges and sustainability were consistent across each case study:

  1. Resourcing and staffing are a challenge for initiatives, particularly in a time of institutional flux and change across the higher education sector.  Also, the loss of institutional knowledge and skills, particularly for staff supporting IT and software, has a significant impact
  2. The economic impact on sustaining initiatives remains a key area of focus for some initiatives.  As well, initiatives are constantly exploring opportunities for collaboration or partnerships that might improve or elevate the profile of these initiatives.
  3. Raising awareness of the benefits of these initiatives is ongoing, and there are opportunities to alter existing perceptions of open publishing initiatives. While the benefits of open publishing may be obvious to library staff and those involved directly in OA publishing, recognition of these benefits at other levels of university management is still lacking. 

The Project Team would like to thank Professor Ginny Barbour who acted as the Team’s critical friend and reviewed the case studies. We also acknowledge the ongoing assistance and guidance from Kate Davis Director, Strategy & Analytics (CAUL) and Catherine Clark, who at the time of this project was the Advancing Open Scholarship Program Director (CAUL). Thanks also to Cicy Zheng, CAUL’s Engagement and Administration Officer.

Project team:

Tracy Creagh, Queensland University of Technology

Jayshree Mamtora, James Cook University

Aliese Millington, Flinders University

Loretta S. Khanna, University of New England

Helen Slaney, La Trobe University

Lucy Walton, Western Sydney University

Choose your own adventure with OER

This post was written by Angie Williamson, Program Coordinator (Open Education) at Deakin University Library. A member of the CAUL Enabling the Modern Curriculum (EMC) Advocacy Project team, Angie is one of the expert co-facilitators lined up for our upcoming EMC Melbourne workshop. For more OER learnings register for the workshop or the online Conference sessions.

Flag with "Explore" written on it as a call to action for OER engagement.

The possibilities of OER

Often when open educational resources (OER) are discussed the focus is on open textbooks.  Open textbooks can greatly impact a student’s learning by increasing access, increasing student satisfaction, and strengthening student success (Colvard, 2018). All of which is amazing but there is so much more to OER than just free textbooks!

"OER are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions” (UNESCO, 2017).

If we frame OERs as “teaching, learning and research materials”, OER encompasses multiple and diverse resource types. Think of the types of resources that you use in teaching – videos, review questions, presentations, infographics, simulations and associated ancillary activities to name a few. The formats of OER cover a whole range of resource types that can be used in inventive and engaging ways to support the learning needs of students. Additionally, as the UNESCO definition outlines, creative commons licences mean you can also adapt resources to the format that best suits your teaching. If a text is more in depth than you need, revise it to an infographic or a set of slides (with an attribution). This flexibility is what makes OER so useful and an invaluable treasure for teaching.

Imagination, pedagogy and participation

A step into the world of OER may lead to a personal journey shaped by your teaching philosophy. Exploring OER can be a beginning, maybe leading to the adoption of a resource, such as a textbook. This flip to an open textbook with creative commons licencing might nudge your imagination to create videos or animations or quizzes if they haven’t already been made. These newly created supporting resources in varying formats can then be shared as OER. Your work would then become part of assisting others using the open textbook for teaching. A supportive circle of reciprocal teaching practice!

In searching for resources for your specific need, you might find a textbook to adapt or even create your own using a variety of open resources. There are so many teaching opportunities that can be developed utilising open resources within the context of your pedagogical paradigm that can enhance student learning and interactions.

Participation in revising or creating OER is not limited to teachers, students can create too. Consider learning activities enabled by OER or the co-creation of open resources with students as part of their learning or assessment. The Creative Commons licences enable revision and adaption of open resources and learning activities can be designed to make use of this. Students could comment on open textbook chapters using a web annotator or could peer review, create question banks or diagrams based on an open text, developing lifelong learning skills while gaining an understanding of open practices such as attribution. Student assignments could even form part of an openly published text. With creativity and using open resources, teacher-student collaborations can produce innovative resources grounded in open educational practice for use by the wider community.

Multiple OER formats for new content creation and revision + the diversity of existing OER you can adapt = the application of open educational practice is only limited by your imagination.

Where to start on your OER journey

Start with exploring some platforms – you never know what you might find. Places to look for OER include:

  • OER Commons or MERLOT are both good starting points. Search for your topic and use the limiters to refine the material type if you need a particular format of resource.
  • Mason OER Metafinder has a real-time federated search which means it will search across multiple OER sources at the same time.
  • OAsis is an online open access repository where you can search over 100 sources for various resource types.

For ideas in open pedagogy and practice, have a look at the Open Pedagogy Notebook, Extending Into the Open or the Open Pedagogy Project Roadmap.

My key take-away for you

No two paths into open will be the same but the journey will be an adventure.

References and attribution

  • Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Hyojin, P. (2018). The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics. International Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 262-276.
  • UNESCO. (2017). Second world OER congress Ljubljana oer action plan 2017. 2nd World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress, Ljubljana.
  • Explore photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Coming soon! CAUL Open Educational Resources Professional Development Program

This post was written by Marion Slawson, Project Lead OER PD Program

I’m delighted to be able to let you know that the much-anticipated CAUL OER Professional Development Program will be running from 26 September through to early December. This will be a foundational course, with modules covering an introduction to OER, open licensing and copyright, finding and evaluating OER, and adapting and creating OER. 

To make the most of your learning experience, your new knowledge will be applied through a project plan that is developed over the course of the program. This project plan will enable you to consider and plan how you will implement your learning within your own workplace, in a way that is commensurate with your role and opportunities. All content is adapted for an Australian / New Zealand higher education context.

What will you be signing up for? The program will be delivered fully online, and there will be a combination of synchronous (real-time) sessions of up to 1 hour, as well as work to be completed independently at a time that suits you between synchronous sessions. Overall the time required should be no more than 2 hours per week. 

If you’re keen to participate, we encourage you to bring a friend (a library colleague or ally, such as a learning designer or academic) so that you can collaborate as you learn and plan how you will activate and implement your knowledge. It’s a great chance to deepen understanding of OERs and the possibilities for change they offer across your workplace, in partnership with others. Of course, you can still participate solo; there will be lots of opportunities to learn with the broader group. 

The course is great value, priced at just $95 for CAUL member staff and $175 for non-members.  Enrolments will open in early August, so start thinking about who you can participate with now and watch this space so you can secure your place!

Keynote announcement: Dr Tai Peseta and student partners

The Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference Project Team is delighted to announce the second keynote presentation for the online Conference, which will be delivered by Dr Tai Peseta and a team of student partners including Thilakshi Mallawa Arachchi, Brooke Mees, Kobi Newell, Lilly-Rose Saliba and Shivani Suresh. Tai and the team of student curriculum partners from Western Sydney University will be presenting a keynote titled Curriculum co-creation as boundary-breaking: expanding our horizons for partnership between students and the academic library.

Partnering to enable a modern curriculum is one of the four themes for the Conference, and we were delighted when Dr Peseta asked if she could partner in her keynote with a team of student partners – modelling partnership while presenting about partnership!

Here’s how they describe their presentation:

We are a team of students and staff at Western Sydney University who have been working together on a university-wide initiative called 21C– a 5-year curriculum transformation project. 21C advances the principles of Partnership Pedagogy – co-design, co-development, co-delivery and co-credentialling – and our stream of work has engaged us energetically in the acts of modern curriculum-making. We have learned how university curriculum gets made through making curriculum with others (academics and external partners), resulting in 10 transdisciplinary Minors – among them – Climate Justice, Equitable Technologies, Urban Evolution, Water for Life, Global Workplaces, and Personal Innovation, and 25 Curiosity Pods that aim to address big society and future of work challenges. Like much of the student-staff curriculum partnership literature suggests (Bovill & Woolmer, 2019; Lubicz-Nawrocka, 2017), the process has been puzzling, eye-opening, satisfying, often-times uncomfortable, and packed with realisations about how power circulates in the university. 

Yet, apart from seeing it as a place that collects, curates, and circulates knowledge and resources – books, articles, newspapers, videos, and that offers spaces for study, reflection, and retreat – as a team, we have engaged very little with our own university library. How does an institutional curriculum transformation project like 21C – with similar aims to CAUL’s statement on a modern curriculum – miss the potential and possibility for a more intentional curriculum partnership with the library? In what ways do the institutional boundaries and particularities of curriculum-making prevent us from engaging in a more purposeful, expansive, and productive partnership? 

In our presentation, we interrogate our student-staff curriculum practices. We share our experience and diagnosis of curriculum co-creation in the university; our interpretation of the scholarly literature about how libraries are already expanding their ways of working with students as partners; and we make suggestions that encourage all of us – students, academics, and librarians – to disrupt the boundaries of curriculum co-creation together.

Find out more about Dr Peseta and the team on the Conference website.

If you’re in Sydney, you can also catch Dr Peseta and co-facilitator Dr Amani Bell at a face-to-face workshop focused on student-staff partnerships on Thursday 13 September. Workshop places are limited, so register early! More information about the workshop is available on the Conference website.

Dr Amanda White to keynote Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference

This post was written by Dr Nicole Johnston, Project Lead, CAUL Conference

Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference. Keynote announcement. So you want to write an open textbook? Dr Amanda White. Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head (Education), Accounting Discipline. University of Technology, Sydney. @AmandasAudit. CAUL. Council of Australian University Librarians

The CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference Project Team has been working hard to put together a dynamic program for the Conference, which will be held in September.

We are delighted to announce that our first keynote speaker will be Dr Amanda White. Dr White is a Senior Lecturer and the Deputy Head (Education) of the Accounting Discipline in the UTS Business School and has been teaching accounting at the university level for almost two decades.

She will share her journey of creating an open textbook, Accounting and Accountability – an introductory accounting textbook that will be used by over 2000 students at UTS annually. Amanda is best known for loving auditing and sharing her resources with students and educators around the world through her YouTube channel Amanda Loves to Audit. In 2020 Amanda was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award for Law, Business, Economics and related areas by Universities Australia – partly for her work in creating accessible resources and OER in the area of academic integrity. In 2022, Amanda is taking on the challenge of developing an introductory accounting open textbook – the first in Australasia.

Registrations for the two day online event and face to face workshops are now open.

Deadline extended! Submit an online presentation for the Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference

Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference. Call for abstracts deadline extended to 10 June. CAUL. Council of Australian University Librarians.

You’ve now got until 10 June to make your submission to present online at the Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference in September!

Academic libraries contribute to contemporary teaching and learning in myriad ways. We know that you innovate in OER spaces, embed digital literacy instruction into curriculum, and connect your communities to the collections, information resources and learning environments they need. Your colleagues across the sector what to hear about the work you, your team, and your library are doing in this space.

The CAUL EMC Conference team invites you to submit either a lightning talk or full presentation for inclusion in the online program on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 September. Your abstract must reflect and engage with one or more of the following Conference themes:  

  • Open Resources to Enable the Curriculum
  • Evolving our Digital Practices
  • Bending and Blending in Learning and Teaching
  • Partnering to Enable a Modern Curriculum

The call for submissions has been extended and will now close on 10 June. 

No papers are required – only a 300 word abstract and a live presentation during the event.

To find out more about the Conference themes and how to make a submission, check out the CAUL EMC 2022 Conference website.

Recruiting open textbook authors

This post was written by Adrian Stagg, Manager (Open Educational Practice), University of Southern Queensland

For many Australian institutions, open education represents a new opportunity that offers advantages and freedoms for staff but can present challenges of workload, buy-in, value, and even the risk of being seen as ‘the newest higher education fad’. Therefore, librarians advocating for open text adoption and adaptation need to demonstrate the value of open approaches, which means aligning with their academic colleagues’ existing needs. What follows is a list of methods that have yielded positive results by positioning openness as an extension of existing practice.

This approach uses Professor Emeritus Geoff Scott’s ‘Listen, Link, Lead’ maxim; that is:

(i) Listen for the problems and opportunities when working with academic staff. Liaison librarians do this daily and have excellent relationships with Faculty, often based on a ‘problem solver’ reputation.

(ii) Link (where appropriate and relevant) the issue at hand with open education. There are plenty of examples below, and again, part of the daily practice of any liaison work.

(iii) Lead. Be prepared to offer a strategy evidenced by practice examples.

Whilst ‘Listen, Link, Lead’ is core business for most librarians, it’s a handy way to frame discussions.

Linking examples

The examples below might serve as a touchstone for your experiences or as a base for extending practice with potential academic authors.

Textbook design and use

Custom texts: There are many good reasons to create custom texts, from providing a curated selection of the most relevant chapters for students to broadening the disciplinary narrative beyond a single author to providing varying points of view on key concepts. Commercial publishers will provide these texts, but they are often very expensive for students, and the legal frameworks for sharing may restrict the content. The same approach can be used with open textbooks when the licences are compatible. Faculty can select a range of free and open texts and construct a custom text. They also have the freedom to add or revise content that provides introductory or bridging information to create context.

Edition wars: Sometimes, a new edition creates chaos and miscommunication between the lecturer and students. Based on course/unit renewal cycles, transitioning to the new edition may be problematic. This, of course, creates supply issues for students, potential challenges for the campus bookshop, and plenty of opportunities for misunderstanding. Given that open texts remain free and openly accessible, lecturers might consider adopting a text and then slowly updating and contextualising the content over semesters. Then, they can publish the changes at the beginning of the semester and link to the texts via the learning management system.

Online and interactive content: Interactive activity design has been a staple of higher education. Keeping students engaged with study during disruptive events (such as COVID lockdowns) is even more important.

Most universities offer online modes from 2020 onwards, and open texts can support that transition. Lecturers who want to embed existing assets or have expressed interest in tools like H5P could be your next authors. Suggest they use legacy content (appropriately checked for third-party Copyright) with embedded activities as the frame for an open text. For example, they might consider a smaller-scale text that slowly grows each semester.

Access issues

Supply chains: Do you know any lecturers affected by supply chain issues during COVID? Delays on shipments led to student access issues, library closures made accessing texts (as opposed to purchasing them) more difficult, and Australian unemployment levels also exerted financial pressure on students. Textbooks are the only cost a lecturer can directly influence, and online open texts are readily accessible in various formats on the first day of semester.

Access and achievement: Many lecturers will report that enhancing engagement with learning resources is challenging. Whether it is due to cost, hesitancy to purchase, supply chain issues, or even perceived relevance to learning, there are several reasons why students do not engage with set texts. Ask lecturers ‘if we could guarantee access to the text on the first day of semester, would it affect student engagement and achievement?‘ Open texts can be stored locally, redistributed legally, and linked to via the learning management system, providing multiple access points.

Open-book exams: Librarians know that access to electronic texts is predicated on publisher restrictions – how many concurrent users? Does the version in the catalogue include the same features as a private version? How timely are publisher notifications of ‘downtime’ for maintenance and other issues? What is the cost to the library? If you know lecturers who are reluctant to assign an electronic text for these reasons (or have a negative experience), open texts could be a solution. 


Course renewal cycles: If you are involved in course/unit renewal or program accreditation cycles, this is an opportunity to suggest open texts. If the workload has been allocated to redeveloping the curriculum, existing allowances could be tasked to open education, with support from the Library. Additionally, a newly accredited program might become more attractive to students if they never need to purchase a text – so there is a market differential to consider. Open texts are then aligned with existing processes for setting and developing resources.

‘Scratch-the-itch’: Some lecturers have driving passions in learning and teaching and seek certain freedoms or innovations to support this drive. If you know lecturers like this (often ‘early adopters’ or ‘early followers’), you could align the freedoms of open licencing with their needs.

Collaboration: Reviewing, revising, and/or writing an entire text is daunting. Collaborative authorship can reduce the workload, has an in-built circle of peer reviewers, and (if the co-authors are across different institutions) provide an immediate impact on a large number of students. Authors seeking to demonstrate impact and even engage in research publication arising from their open education work would be well advised to seek out colleagues.


Reputational: Open texts provide seamless access to a lecturer’s work, potentially expanding both reach and attention. Like the dialogue supporting Open Access research, open texts provide greater exposure and potential readership. These texts can be prompted via professional bodies and accrete interest based on access. Additionally, for smaller disciplines, researchers may collaborate (writing a chapter or more each) for a comprehensive national text.

Specialist knowledge: Every university has lecturers involved in specialist research that may have a smaller audience. This can mean publishers are loathed to invest in these texts, usually citing a project’s poor financial return. However, sometimes these lecturers have manuscripts (completed or not) that could be an excellent starting point for an open text.

‘Mind the Gap’: Australian research in open education is neither widespread nor sufficiently diversified for contemporary evidence-based practice examples. Nevertheless, researchers seeking to address aspects of Australian practice may be attracted by the prospect of using their open text work to generate research and reputation.


Authorship opportunities: Learning design already includes the appropriate use of student authoring platforms, online annotation, and other types of resource creation. Identify lecturers who already use these assessments and link the activities to open outcomes. For example, students could co-author an open resource, design ancillary learning resources for a text (such as self-assessment quizzes or case studies), or undertake a structured review of existing content using annotation tools (like Open assessment practices may be well-aligned with these existing approaches or offer affordances that current approaches do not. There is also a strong connection between student-authored content and portfolios that support graduate employability.


The thirteen opportunities above rely on creating relationships with Faculty, connecting open education approaches with existing and emerging needs, and then leading an appropriate response. This type of practical advocacy is well within a librarian’s skill set and simply a different arena for current practice.

More opportunities and examples exist beyond this list. Add yours to the ‘Comment’ section below. Collaboration and sharing are cornerstones of librarianship and open education so be generous.