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. 

Workload

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.

Research

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.

Students

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 Hypothes.is). 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.

Conclusion

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.

Designing the OER Advocacy Toolkit: Notes from the Team

By Adrian Stagg (University of Southern Queensland), CAUL OER Advocacy Team Leader.

Later this year, the team will launch an OER Advocacy Toolkit designed to support and empower librarians in higher education to become advocates for open education at their institution.  Given the contextual differences across the sector, it might seem like a daunting task; however, there appear to be more points of commonality than we realised.  

Our team commenced its investigations by consulting with advocates in Australia and the United States and reviewing existing resources. Unsurprisingly, most advocacy resources are authored in the US and Canada, with very few from the UK and none related directly to OER and OEP for Australia. So we set about distilling those consultations and the review to provide clear guidance for the construction of the Toolkit.

Connection

  • The experience of many advocates is one of isolation.  Advocates are often driven by their values and intention to create change. The effort required for this is very exhausting long-term.  Connecting people helps normalise challenges, pool resources, share practice, and maintain momentum.
  • Librarians are at the forefront of open advocacy globally; initially, with open access (OA) research agendas, and now with open education. These two concepts are seen to be artificially separated rather than being seen as complementary, as governments and funding bodies explicitly promote OA research outcomes, whilst open education remains completely absent in strategies and targets for the sector.  Librarians are well-positioned to link these concepts (‘it’s open access publishing, but for learning and teaching’) for a holistic approach to institutional openness as they support academic staff in both research and teaching.

Communication

  • Librarians – and by extension, any advocates – are not usually empowered to directly change the status quo at scale, nor do they have the strongest voices in institutional forums.  Locating, recruiting, and mobilising stakeholders and champions is critical to OER advocacy success.
  • The Toolkit needs to consider a range of messages to be employed by librarians to link open education to university goals and to raise its profile nationally.  Providing key messages such as affordability, student success and retention, increased academic freedom, and improved learning and teaching help tailor communications.

Practicality

  • Toolkit resources need to address the practical questions and include concise ‘fact sheets’, workflows, surveys, videos, answers to ‘tough questions’, FAQ banks, presentation resources and exemplar campaigns.

Celebration 

  • As indicated previously, advocacy can be exhausting.  Sometimes change doesn’t happen, or sometimes it happens at a near-glacial pace. Advocates and practitioners need to take the time to celebrate milestones and communicate those successes to champions and stakeholders. 

What’s next?

The team is currently managing a review of the initial content and the core topics to be included in the Toolkit. Feedback from the open community is imperative at this stage.  We will have further posts about our approach, feedback, and forthcoming events scheduled at the CAUL Conference. 

In the meantime, if you are engaging in open advocacy, consider posting a comment below.  Tell the team what you’ve found most useful and share your experiences.

A year of Enabling the Modern Curriculum

This post was written by Fiona Salisbury, Executive Director Library and University Librarian at La Trobe University. Fiona is a member of the CAUL Board and the Program Director for the Enabling a Modern Curriculum Program.

It’s been just over 12 months since we launched the CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum Program. I am amazed at what has been achieved in this period—but, not surprised! The Program is an example of what 40 library practitioners from 28 institutions can do when they get together to have some fun with five projects. At the end of a very busy year full of competing priorities, I am delighted to say that all projects are on track and some major milestones have been met in 2021.

The Open Educational Resources Collective Pilot Project team developed the Open Educational Resources (OER) Collective model, which was endorsed by the CAUL Board at its November meeting. In developing the model the Project team reviewed the literature, scanned the environment, and surveyed CAUL members. The result is a robust model that will provide an opportunity for participating institutions to publish open textbooks on a shared platform and build institutional capability. It will also provide opportunities for collaborative, cross-institutional development of open textbooks. The OER Collective model will commence from January 2022 and the call for participation is now open. The OER Collective is underpinned by communities of practice for library staff and academics, and the Project team is now working on resources and events that will be part of the launch of the communities of practice in the New Year.

The Open Educational Resources Professional Development Program Project team developed a proposal for an OER professional development (PD) program, which was endorsed by the CAUL Board at its November meeting. There are few OER PD programs available for library staff so this program will fill a gap for library practitioners and allied colleagues in Australia and New Zealand. Informed by a literature review, an environmental scan, and feedback from CAUL members, the OER PD program will be for both experienced and novice practitioners. The aim is to build capacity in leadership of OER practice relating to open textbooks, open educational practices and pedagogy, advocacy, and communications. Next steps for the project team include developing a detailed course overview, structure, and delivery timeline.

The Open Educational Resources Advocacy Project team progressed thinking about how academic libraries can best tackle the issue of raising the visibility of the OER agenda in the higher education sector and nationally. The critical nature of this task cannot be underestimated, and to inform their thinking the team collected data on institutional and individual perspectives on OERs, consulted with key contacts, completed a review of existing OER advocacy resources, and curated a collection of fifty exemplary assets. The team has laid the groundwork for the next step, which is to develop an OER advocacy toolkit proposal that will go to the CAUL Board for endorsement in 2022.

The Enabling a Modern Curriculum with Students as Partners (SaP) Project team launched the National Review of ‘Students as Partners’ in Australian Academic Libraries and completed a national survey of academic libraries across Australia to understand their current perceptions, practices and goals around SaP. Respondents included 15 university librarians and 182 library staff. The project team reported on their preliminary research findings and highlighted project initiatives at the recent Students as Partners roundtable. Individual team members also developed 11 SaP case study projects to be undertaken in their respective libraries. When completed, these case studies and other examples collected via the survey, will create an evidence base to inform a practice toolkit to support CAUL member institutions to engage with student partners as routine academic library practice. What’s more, in 2022 the team will model a SaP approach by collaborating with students on the development of the toolkit.

The CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference Project team developed a conference proposal, which was endorsed by the CAUL Board at its September meeting. The conference dates are set – Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 September 2022 for the online program, and Tuesday 13 September for the face to face events in five capital cities – so make sure CAUL’s inaugural conference is in your calendar. The Project team has planned a hybrid event that will include a mix of workshops, online keynotes and in-person events.  There are four conference themes:

  • Open Resources to enable the curriculum
  • Evolving our digital practices
  • Bending and blending in learning and teaching
  • Partnership to enable a modern curriculum.

Stay tuned for more information and a call for participation in March 2022.

It’s been inspiring working with the project team leaders and their teams this year. Each project team has a distinctive focus and is getting on with the task at hand. A strong emphasis on evidence and engagement through CAUL member surveys and briefing sessions, wide promotion of the projects, creative video production, and blog posts are characteristic of the way the teams work. Since mid-September there have been 20 posts here on the Enabling a Modern Curriculum blog. The blog has an international following, and its scope extends beyond the projects to all the ways libraries enable the curriculum. I encourage you to contribute to the clog in 2022. If you are interested contact a member of the blog editorial team who will be happy to hear from you.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved and contributed to the CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum Program this year. This overview doesn’t do justice to the enormous effort and huge contribution of individuals and project teams. I’d like to thank our Project Team Leaders (Marion Slawson – FedUni; Tahnee Pearse – USQ; Adrian Stagg – USQ; Dr Nicole Johnson – ECU; Dr Mollie Dollinger – Deakin), project team members, Dr Kate Davis and staff in the CAUL National Office. It’s a collective effort sustaining such a vibrant and dynamic program. But intentionally positioning academic libraries to build national partnerships to enable the transformation of learning and teaching at their institutions is well worth every effort.

The blog editorial team will be taking a break over the next few weeks. You can expect to hear from us again in the second week in January. We hope everyone in our community has a chance to wind down and take time out over the festive period.

Textbooks: The future is open

This post was written by Fiona Tyson, Kaiwhakahaere Taonga Tuku Iho | Manager, Cultural Heritage & Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury. Fiona is also a member of the OER Collective Pilot project team. Fiona can be contacted at fiona.tyson@canterbury.ac.nz or on Twitter @Libfifi.

In recent years, the textbook publishing market has been changing in response to demand for e-textbooks and declining sales to students. The advent of COVID-related lockdowns intensified the emergence of new textbook publishing models for tertiary libraries (Gray & O’Shea, 2021; Van Malderen, 2021), usually aimed at one of two outcomes:

  • Limit academic library provision of textbook access (through expensive limited user licenses and download limits) – presumably to leverage individual textbook sales.
  • Provide cohort access to prescribed textbooks through expensive institutional subscription models based on enrolments.

As academic library professionals in Aotearoa New Zealand, we came together to share our experiences and talk about open educational resources (OERs) as alternatives to commercial textbooks. We quickly realised that while there was recent research on New Zealand students’ perspectives of textbooks (Brown et al., 2020; Stein et al., 2017) and we understood librarian perspectives of textbooks, we didn’t have concrete evidence of academic perspectives.

This was a significant gap, since academics are the market for academic publishers (and, often the authors – but that’s another blog post).

Academics hold considerable market power in the textbook market as what they select drives student and tertiary library purchasing.

Our research group launched a national survey, asking academics about how they used textbooks in teaching, their selection criteria, their experience during COVID-19 lockdowns and their perspectives on OERs. Members of our research group are Sara Roberts (University of Canterbury), Lisa Davies (University of Canterbury), Associate Professor Cheryl Brown (University of Canterbury) and Richard White (University of Otago), with support from Zhanni Luo. A more detailed analysis of our data from a recent presentation is available here and we anticipate more data/analysis will be forthcoming.

How do academics use textbooks?

We found that academics were well aware that the cost of, and access to, textbooks was an issue for students. They also reported that many students did not use the textbook, particularly from academics working in hard-pure disciplines (e.g. Chemistry, Physics).*

*In order to meaningfully analyse respondents by disciplinary group, we divided disciplines into hard-pure (e.g. Chemistry, Physics), soft pure (e.g. History, Philosophy), hard-applied (e.g. Engineering, Computer Science), and soft applied (e.g. Economics, Education), according to criteria first articulated by Biglan (1973).

Nonetheless, academics reported textbook practices based on the traditional print textbook model, assuming that the majority of students would purchase the book. Approximately 50% of respondents reported often or always teaching into courses with prescribed textbooks, mostly frequently setting one or two chapters of the textbook as readings. Other frequent usage was to structure a course around the textbook or set over half of the textbook as readings. Setting prescribed texts when using just one or two chapters suggests academics’ textbook practices are not aligned with their awareness of students’ perspectives.

This disconnect was made even clearer when we asked respondents what percentage of students they thought were purchasing prescribed textbooks.

Academic estimates regarding how many students buy the prescribed textbook.

It was not possible to draw a meaningful statistic from our data because the answers ranged from 0-100%. (Although, academics working in hard-pure disciplines did express a more realistic view of how many students were purchasing the textbook).

Academic perceptions of library textbook services & lockdowns

We were also interested in academic perceptions of tertiary libraries’ textbook services. Academics reported offering prescribed textbook alternatives such as requesting academic libraries put textbooks in high use collections, requesting academic libraries purchase textbooks, or recommending earlier editions. Interestingly, a number of respondents distinguished between getting an e-version and asking the library to purchase a textbook, suggesting academics don’t equate the library purchasing copies of textbooks with the library purchasing e-textbooks.

Furthermore, survey respondents almost always took price for students into account in textbook selection, but almost 60% of respondents reported rarely or never taking into account the price for the library. Given the financial pressures academic libraries face with textbook provision, we believe this finding indicates a need for academic libraries to be open and honest with academics about how the commercial textbook market is changing.

Libraries also need to communicate the pedagogical implications for academics of these changing models – both in terms of their own workload and the implications for student success. Academics reported on their experiences in lockdown in our survey, with around 20% sharing that textbook access became a significant issue when teaching moved online. Accordingly, they reported that an electronic format was an increasingly important factor in textbook selection. If academic libraries do not take the lead in talking about textbook practices and promoting viable e-textbooks models, such as adopting, adapting or creating open textbooks, the move to e-textbooks will only increase the financial pressure on libraries.

The way forward

Our survey confirmed that, by and large, tertiary educators in Aotearoa New Zealand are prescribing and using textbooks under the assumptions of the traditional print textbook model. The evidence suggests while they are aware of student perspectives, they do not materially grasp how these traditional textbook practices no longer align with the textbook publishing market, affecting students, academic libraries and, increasingly, their own pedagogical practices.

Academic libraries must lead in this space to ensure equity for students and maintain their role as information experts on campus.

References

Paying it forward: Sharing OERS in the academic librarian community

This post was written by Annette Goodwin, Senior Client Services Librarian at Charles Sturt University. Annette is also a CAUL Digital Dexterity Champion.

Let’s start with an Open Educational Resources framing.  OERs are teaching, learning and research materials 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, n.d.). OERs can therefore include textbooks, curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video, software, coded elements and more.

Libraries and librarians around the world support and encourage educators, teachers and academics to create, locate, adapt and use OERs for the benefit of others.

But have you ever thought of the resources and objects you create as a librarian? Could they be considered OERs too? Absolutely!

Everyday, librarians create and use a wide range of resources that support learning, teaching and research at their institutions. Amazing session plans that unpack research methods  or interactive infographics about fake news. Workshops on how to make videos or seminar presentations demystifying referencing. Librarians are prolific creators! We need to harness the power of this work and share those resources with others. You may already use platforms like OER Commons or Merlot to locate OERs for your own use or recommend them to your academics, but have you considered sharing to the platforms yourself?

Let’s talk about a Digital Dexterity Commons

The Resource Sharing Group (RSG), a sub-group of the CAUL Digital Dexterity Community of Practice (CoP), has created a Group on OER Commons – Digital Dexterity Educators to help you understand and share OERs you’re creating. The CoP supports their organisations and the wider tertiary library community to build digital dexterity capabilities and drive positive change in relation to technology, so creating a OER sharing group seemed a natural fit.

The RSG is encouraging academic librarians around Australia and New Zealand to join our OER Commons group and share resources. If you’re not sure how to go about creating or sharing OERs, the RSG has created a couple of documents to help you to get started…

What can you do?

There are three steps that you can action:

  1. Check out and join the Digital Dexterity Educators Group on OER Commons,
  2. Consider whether the objects you create can be shared with a Creative Commons licence, and      
  3. Take the next step and, with your institution’s permission, share them with the group!

Reference: UNESCO (n.d.). Open Educational Resources (OER). https://en.unesco.org/themes/building-knowledge-societies/oer

Connect, learn, and collaborate with CAUL

Our 2022 CAUL conference goal is to bring people together to explore the challenges and opportunities afforded by the modern curriculum.

Do you work in an academic library?  Are you interested in student partnerships, open ed resources, digital pedagogies and practices? Well do I have good Friday news! There’s a new conference on the block that’s right up your alley.

CAUL is launching a hybrid conference in September next year with the umbrella theme “Enabling a Modern Curriculum”. Just as we’ve all been experimenting and adapting Library services to very changeable times, this conference will offer an innovative model. Both online and in-person events will be part of the 2022 CAUL Conference. What’s exciting is that the in-person interactive events will run synchronously across multiple states. Collaboration and communication will be key both on the day and in the organising of it!

The 2022 CAUL Conference is all about connections in both digital and face-to face spaces. It’s about sharing work experiences and showcasing research to better shape our practice. It’s about getting to know experts in your field and building your personal network. It’s about bringing together outcomes from all the CAUL Enabling the Modern Curriculum projects. It’s also about practical workshops that will add to your existing skillsets.

An animated brief

Check out this video (also embedded below) that in less than 2 minutes unpacks the what, when, who and how details of the 2022 CAUL Conference.

If you’re the kind of person who loves to deep dive into data (not uncommon tendency in Library folk) then more information can be found in the CAUL Conference Project brief

Our team

The CAUL Conference Project Team is ably led by Dr Nicole Johnston (Edith Cowan University). With the following team members working with her from across Australia:  Lindsey Fratus (University of Newcastle), Naomi Mullumby (University of Melbourne), Sue Hutley (Bond University), Frances O’Neal (Victoria University), Arlene O’Sullivan (La Trobe University), Liz Walkley Hall (Flinders University), and, yours truly, Kat Cain (Deakin University).

What’s next?

Stay tuned for more 2022 CAUL Conference news in the months to come. The project team will be working to bring you updates and ways to get involved. And I highly recommend subscribing to this very blog to keep in the know.

How is Australia supporting open education?

OER Advocacy video

Over the past couple of years, the FAIR and Advancing Open Scholarship programs have increased the visibility of the role of libraries in open research and advanced the open research agenda more generally. In Australia, ‘OER [Open Educational Resources] initiatives are nascent and fragmented and there are limited projects across the higher education landscape. Government policy and support for OERs is needed to foster real change’ (Ponte, Lennox & Hurley, 2021, p. 7). The US and Canada invest steadily and provide legislative backing for openness, so how do we compare? The short answer is ‘not so well’, however there is a way forward.

Drawing on learnings from CAUL’s open research advocacy, the Enabling a Modern Curriculum: OER Advocacy project will develop and enact a plan for advocacy related to OERs, with a view to raising the visibility of the OER agenda and related issues. The project will focus on both local and national advocacy and deliver an advocacy toolkit for member institutions to use for local advocacy, and plan and undertake advocacy at a national level, which will target the DVCsA and government.

This Project aims to:

  • raise the visibility of the OER agenda for key stakeholder groups (DVCsA and government).
  • develop and enact a plan for advocacy related to OERs, which targets the key stakeholder groups.
  • curate and/or create resources which support advocacy work.

Watch the video below about the OER Advocacy project and how it aims to activate higher education advocates nationally:

The project brief (PDF) provides further details on the deliverables and timeline.

Our team

The project team is led by Adrian Stagg (University of Southern Queensland). The team members are Justine Cawley (The University of Queensland), Steven Chang (La Trobe University), Jennifer Hurley (RMIT University), Alice Luetchford (James Cook University), Carlie Nekrasov (Southern Cross University), Lucy Walton (Western Sydney University), and Angie Williamson (Deakin University).

Interested in being involved? 

Subscribe to the blog to receive project updates and keep an eye out for the call for members coming in November 2021!

How we’re Enabling a Modern Curriculum

1 CAUL program, 5 projects, 28 institutions, 40 team members and 1 new blog!

As the Program Director for CAUL’s Enabling a Modern Curriculum program, I am excited and delighted to launch the program blog. The purpose of this blog is to keep the library and higher education communities up to date on the program’s progress. With the five projects in the program well underway there is lots to share, and you can expect a regular parade of posts in this space. Project team members are looking forward to providing highlights, sharing work-in-progress, giving news updates, and putting out calls to action.

The CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum program is designed to bring together the expertise of library staff and academics in two critical and emerging aspects of the modern curriculum – open educational resources (OER) and students as partners. While our definition of a modern curriculum is broad, focussing on these two areas has the most potential to enable and transform future library practice. Enabling a modern curriculum is a shared endeavour, and the program’s aim is to influence a national agenda in these key areas. In leading a reimagining of how libraries enable the curriculum, CAUL is also supporting library staff to make a difference to the student learning experience and student success at a local level.

Where we started

The program kicked off with a Zoom workshop in September 2020, and we started how we intend to continue – with librarians and academics in dialogue in a collaborative and thought-provoking environment. When reflecting on how academic libraries might enable a modern curriculum the things that jumped out at me as needing more attention were OER, student wellbeing, and students as partners. I invited three academics to the workshop to speak to these issues and the associated current challenges facing the HE sector: Professor Helen Partridge on open education, Professor Sally Kift on student wellbeing, and Dr Mollie Dollinger on students as partners. Their presentations were provocative and the conversation that flowed into the breakout rooms was energised and creative. Collectively the 93 workshop participants wrestled with and debated the issues and affirmed key priorities for the program. On closer analysis of the workshop deliberations, it was clear that in OER space we would need to tackle national OER advocacy, OER professional development, and collaborative open textbook creation for the Australian and New Zealand environment. Additionally, I also thought we needed a forum to showcase insights from the projects and make visible a range of good practice initiatives related to all the ways libraries enable the curriculum.

Five projects emerged

So, all things considered, the program started 2021 with five projects:

How we’re working together

Our ways of working within and across projects encourages experimentation, collective thinking, and sector-wide collaboration. The program is ambitious, but all the projects are in good hands and have an enthusiastic and talented team. Each week I meet with Dr Kate Davis from the CAUL National Office and the Project Team leads – Tahnee Pearse (OER Collective Pilot), Marion Slawson (OER PD Program), Adrian Stagg (OER Advocacy), Dr Mollie Dollinger (Students as partners), Dr Nicole Johnson (CAUL Conference). It’s a great team, and together, our careful stewardship of the projects is ensuring that this impressive program has every chance of realising its objective to transform national and local practice, and will position libraries as key partners in enabling a modern curriculum through OER, and with students as partners.

I’d like to thank the 40 library practitioners from 28 institutions who are collaborating on these five projects. This is important work that has not yet been attempted in this way on a national scale. And, more importantly, I hope everyone involved is having fun and forging new professional friendships (the unwritten objectives of involvement in the program!).

Watch this space

To library and academic colleagues who are interested, or curious, or feel inspired by the program, there will be plenty of opportunities to be involved over the coming two years. Watch this space, and when opportunities arise your contribution will be warmly welcomed.