May Office Hours: Strategies for Dealing with Invisible Labour (Audio and Chat Transcripts)

Office Hours

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript. The chat transcript is also available, for those interested in reading the conversation that took place amongst participants and seeing resources shared.

Note: If anyone would prefer to not be associated with their comments in either of these transcripts, please contact Apurva as soon as possible and we will remove any names or other identifying information.

Audio Transcript


  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Zoe Wake Hyde
  • Tanya Spilovoy
  • Carla Myers
  • Matthew DeCarlo
  • Sarah Cohen

Zoe: And we’re underway, great. Thank you so much everybody for joining us, it’s lovely to see you all. We’re really pleased to be having this part two of our sessions on invisible labour with some great guests. Before we jump into it, I wanted to share a little bit of news from Rebus. We’re excited to have a couple of new fun things for people to use and play with. The first is that you can now get a dedicated project discussion space, if you have a project in the works, that allows you to communicate with your team.

And we’re also opening up to people who want to post calls for contributors in our contributor marketplace and if you let us know, we can include those in our reach outs through our newsletter and social media and things like that. So, hopefully, that’s useful to some of you who have work underway. And I’ll get Lee to drop a couple of links and Apurva as well. She’s quick off the mark, into the chat there if that’s interesting to anybody.

And of course, you can always reach us through the Rebus discussion threads if you want to be asking any more questions about that. So, that out of the way, let’s get to it. We had a fantastic call last month. I hope many of you were there, and I see a few people who’ve returned for this one with our guests talking about invisible labour, to get the conversation started.

Talking about their own stories and experiences of it, we do have that call available if anybody wants to re-watch it. And we’re now really pleased to have more guests joining us to tackle this really important issue and coming at it this time through the lens and strategies for addressing and dealing with invisible labour within OER. It’s a very big issue, there’s a lot that is at the systemic level that is not necessarily something we can address within an hour.

But all of us are here to do the work and find practical ways to move forward. So, we’re really looking forward to hearing from both our guests and everybody else on this call has a lot to offer. So, with that, I will hand over to Karen, from OTN to introduce our guests and a bit more about the session. Thank you, Karen.

Karen: Thanks, Zoe. My name is Karen Lauritsen, I’m with the Open Textbook Network and we are delighted to partner with the Rebus Community monthly for these Office Hour calls. As Zoe said, this is a part two, the first time we’ve tried I think a part one and part two. And so, in this session continuing the conversation on invisible labour, we’re going to talk about strategies to move your initiatives forward in this environment and hear from three people who have three very different roles in the open education space.

They’re going to talk about perhaps how they’ve incorporated OER into their job descriptions, developed techniques for examining and restructuring work relationships to maybe even reduce emotional investment in the work. And advocated for sustainable budgets and staffing especially for growing OER programmes. So, our three guests today, I will share a little bit about them, in the order in which they’ll talk.

If this is your first time in Office Hours, it’s very informal. Our guests will talk about three to five minutes each, with some background about their experience and their role, and in this case how they have approached the issue of invisible labour. And then, we’ll want to hand things over to all of you, and get your questions, your stories, and your comments. So, now for the introductions.

First, I’m pleased to introduce Tanya Spilovoy. She’s a director of open policy at WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. Tanya leads the Z Initiative there, which focuses on the policy, practice and implementation of OER in states, systems and higher education institutions. After Tanya, we’ll hear from Carla Myers. She’s coordinator of scholarly communications for the Miami University in Ohio.

Her responsibilities include facilitating the use of OER on campus, answering questions about US copyright law, and helping faculty and students promote their scholarship and research within their professional communities into the public. And then, finally, we will hear from Matt DeCarlo, he is assistant professor of social work in the school of social work at Radford University in Virginia.

He’s also the author of the open textbook “Scientific Inquiry in Social Work”. So, Tanya, if you’re ready I will hand it over to you.

Tanya: Good morning. Actually, I guess it’s afternoon for most of you. I’m calling from North Dakota and I’d like to acknowledge the native tribes that are from this land. And my husband and children are both from Standing Rock, we have the three affiliated tribes and this land that I am sitting on is part of the Great Plains. So, it’s great to be here with all of you. So, my position is with the WICHE cooperative for educational technologies.

WICHE, there are four regional compacts in the United States. They are made up of state members, so the western interstate commission for higher education has 16 states, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, California, and Hawaii. We also have some associated territories that are involved with WICHE and within WICHE there are departments. So, I’m in the technology department.

The interesting thing about the compacts in the United States, there’s four different regions of states, is that people come together from all these different states to do educational policies. So, they’re focused on higher ed policy that makes things better for students. A lot of the work that is done at the regional compacts has to do with cost savings, transfer of credits. They work on big initiatives for graduation rates.

And just recently, have become more interested in reducing costs through the adoption of open educational resources. So, how would this be done? It’s to like the large grand scale at state and policy level. And how do legislators, governors, state higher education executive officers and the presidents of large universities come to understand what policies might help all of you do your work even better on the campuses?

So, my job is to do a lot of education for policymakers, help them understand some best practice, give them examples of things that have worked in other states. So, for example, I worked at the state of Colorado OER council. They had a group of people that were appointed by their governor to come together and talk about OER and how to do it on campuses. And so, I helped them do a survey for the entire state to gather information.

Put together a survey report, to then distribute to their legislature and then, the legislature from the recommendations of the OER council and from my consulting funded the OER work in the state of Colorado. And they’re just doing really, really well now. And it’s because there are now, just on the ground advocates and champions at campuses, librarians, and technologists, faculty, who are doing the real hard work.

And so, from my perspective at this very high level, one of my jobs is to A help policymakers that are interested in funding and promoting student-centered open work, help them to do it in a way that supports what you all do on campuses. To do it in a way that is sustainable over time, and to help them understand the invisible labour that goes on at campuses. So, one of the big questions and I got this today, actually, from a legislator at a meeting.

Now that we’re doing all this OER at our campus, we’re seeing that our bookstore is getting less traffic. So, now we’ve got this extra expense over here. And so, my job is to help them through some of those questions and really help guide the discussion to something that focuses on students and ways that we can all make this work across. Because legislators and policymakers and presidents, they all want to do what’s right for students.

When I meet with them, I just see this really genuine care and love for trying to do something great for the world, and especially help campuses and education. So, giving them the education they need to do open and to really support the work on your campuses, help them understand the invisible labour that you all do. And also, it’s good for you all to understand what happens behind the scenes at that high-level state policy level.

Karen: Thank you, Tanya. And now, I’ll hand things over to Carla.

Carla: Hi, can you hear me?

Karen: Yeah.

Carla: Okay great. So, when I was presented with this topic idea, I think one of the things that really struck me is invisible labour in the library in general. Thinking about when patrons encounter a book or a film in the library and they think oh, it’s just there. Not realising the selection decision or the acquisition or the cataloguing. And the way the invisible labour that we all do, we can use that to kick off a conversation about invisible labour tied to OER.

So, a little bit about what I do, my job title is coordinator of scholarly communications for the Miami University libraries, and that’s Miami in Ohio, not sunny Florida. Part of my job is being a copyright librarian, but a significant part of my job probably 50% of my time is helping support our OER and affordable learning initiatives here at Miami University. I love doing this. I recommend if you are looking a job think of Malta. jobs in Malta are highly demanded. The top reasons to choose Malta for an overseas career can be its laidback lifestyle and temperate climate, added to this a booming economy are favorable factors to work in Malta. The other factors acting in favor of the country include the tax structure, low cost of living and the quality of life.

I am part of a campus wide committee, that I co-chair with another librarian and our associate provost on campus that kind of leads up these initiatives for the whole entire campus. We have three grant programmes tied to OER and we have two what we call affordable learning grants. It focuses more on the affordability piece than maybe necessarily the creation of use or use of truly open educational resources.

So, even though I am one of three co-chairs on this group, by nature of my job responsibilities, I am doing a lot of the frontline things. Like hosting what we call our OER explore grant programme, which is kind of like the OTN’s introduction to open education model, where they come in and we talk a little bit about affordable education, we do some hands-on work with some actual OER.

We have our OER adopt programme, which is exactly what it sounds, grant provided for faculty who want to adopt an OER. And we are launching our OER create programme, to help support faculty who want to create and write their own OER. I couldn’t be any more excited about this. So, while I love doing all of these, there’s all this invisible labour tied to it. So, with the OER explore, it’s preparing the call for applications, because we have people apply for this programme, because there is a grant fund tied to that.

It’s reviewing these applications, it’s printing off an OER in their subject area, and I say this with love in my heart, chasing faculty down afterwards to make sure they are posting their review in a timely manner. Most are very good about it, but sometimes it’s a little bit like herding cats. With OER adopt, I help review the grant applications before they even come in. I have meetings with faculty to help them identify an OER.

I’m part of the group that then reviews these applications, but then even today, a good part of my day was unexpectedly spent on working with a couple of faculty who completed their grant requirements, now that we’re at the end of the semester. Our semester just ended last week. So, it’s that mentality that you come into work and you’re like, “Oh I’m going to get these things done today.”

But instead, you end up hopping over and doing things and that’s the way things happen. But the invisible labour about now, when do I find time to do the things that I’m doing? Or I think one of the best examples I can think of with invisible labour is tied to our OER create programme. So, Miami University is beyond excited to be one of the founding members of the OTN publishing coop.

And we had a great time going through the training last year. And initially we thought with OER create not only would I be the project manager for these projects, but I would do a lot of the things in the background to actually help facilitate the publication of these. Because I do have a little, little bit of publishing experience, as a journal editor. And it was really interesting, because we got about three-quarters of the way through this training.

And I remember after the training session I went to my boss’ office and I said, “We’re in trouble.” And it has nothing to do with the OTN publishing coop programme, which is phenomenal, where we were trouble is me realising there is no way I can do all this publishing work on my own as a one-woman shop, unless I stop doing all the other things I’m doing and do nothing but this.

And I said, “I need you, my bosses, to make a decision. Do you want me to become the OER publishing librarian for two or three years, which I will gladly do and be in my office literally constantly doing all the work to publish these? Or do you want me to continue what I am doing, which is to be out on the frontlines and engaging with our faculty and getting people involved with these?” And in the end, Miami University said, “You know what?

We’re probably going to end up having Scribe help do a lot of this work so that instead of you being invisible in your office, that you are out on the frontlines continuing to engage with people.” And I would be invisible in that role, because I would be in my office, even though it’s a very nice office, but losing that engagement. But I think it was that moment my recommendations for the people here is communicate, communicate, communicate.

You can never over communicate. And it’s one thing I’ve learned not only as a librarian. But I was a department head in my previous job. And I would always tell my staff, “If you’re in a rocky place, if things are going on, talk to me, it’s my responsibility to do whatever I can to help you out. But I can only help you out if I know what’s going on.” And I think that’s why I learned very early on.

Whether it’s the OER explore and oh my gosh, do we just have a student employee who can run over to the copy centre and get these bound copies of these OER for me, because I just don’t have 15 minutes to do that today? Or the very frank discussion we had about OER create, saying, “I could do this, if you want me to give up all these other responsibilities.” Is just saying, “Here is what I am doing. Here are the initiatives I am involved with.”

Making it very clear, here’s how much time is involved with this, just the consultation to go talk with faculty. That can be an hour out of my time, going over to their office, coming back, sending follow up emails. There’s a few more hours maybe looking around for open educational resources that they can use in their class. So, just very clearly communicating to your supervisors, “Here’s the different ways that I am engaging with these.”

And realistically here’s how much of my time that it takes. And then, too saying to your boss, “If you want me to be doing more, what am I going to give up in order to be able to do more? Or how can we de-prioritise some other things?” And I think too saying that I’m willing to be a partner. I’m willing to be part of this. I am willing to give it everything I have. But here is what I need from you as my boss.

And that can be just moral support, that great job, you’re doing well every now and then. That can be shifting around priorities in your job on what you’re going to focus on. Maybe giving away some of your responsibilities to somebody else. It can also be a financial investment, and I don’t necessarily mean more money, because we would all love more money.

But I think if you can be going to your boss and saying, “There are things that I can engage with and this may cost money to send me to a conference or to allow me to participate in this training. But here’s the value that we’re going to get out of this. And if you want me to be able to fully support this, I would appreciate getting the support from you.” And I’ve been very fortunate here at Miami University, my fabulous dean here in the library, the times that I’ve gone to him and said, “You know, I would like to travel and be a part of this.

And here’s the value I will get out of it, and here’s how it will help me do my job better.” He has been very supportive financially, helping find some resources for me to get there for many of these. So, I think my recommendations are just communicate to your colleagues what you’re doing, to your boss what you’re doing, and then having that conversation together about how you are going to prioritise, especially that invisible labour that people see the end results but they don’t see the time that you put in, maybe on your own.

And then, asking for what you need, whether it’s that re-prioritisation of your time, or more support from your colleagues, or maybe I need some money so I can go participate in this training, so I have more knowledge to do this better.

Karen: Thanks, Carla. And Matt, we’re going to turn things over to you. We can see your screen, but we can’t hear you yet.

Matt: I’m mute. There we go. Sorry about that. Yeah, sorry. Hey, I have slides. I don’t know why, I like slides. So, as my intro mentioned, I’m an OER author, so I think a good question to ask is are authors visible? And to who? So, some of the things that I learned is that for students in my class where my book was used, I am visible to those students. But I am not really visible to even students at my own university, who I am not teaching who also use this textbook.

So, if I write a textbook, other people in my department, my colleagues will usually take notice, if they’re not particularly enamoured with the other alternative, the traditional alternatives. They might use it. And to students in their classroom, I’m just another author. So, it doesn’t really so much matter to them.

I found that within my department, I am pretty visible as somebody who does this stuff, as the person who might be bringing up OER at a faculty meeting. Or as we’re doing in our undergraduate programme, we’re doing some course redesign and curriculum redevelopment, I’m the person talking about OER and textbook costs and all that stuff inside of that room.

So, it is sort of visible to them, and I’ve gotten a lot of good collaborations and partnerships out of that stuff. Where it is a little bit more questionable is whether it is visible for promotion. As I understand it, OER and tenure promotion is a thing that’s talked about a lot, but I don’t know that there have been a lot of good examples for what to do although I’m still looking for those. So, I could be wrong on that.

I think for myself I think if my open textbook were to count towards tenure and promotion it would mostly be because people have no idea what an open textbook is. That if they learned that no, I copied and pasted half of that book, and a lot of it is not original scholarship, they might actually be a little bit more unclear, than just like, “Oh okay, you published something with somebody. Okay, that’s fine.”

Grants help, and one of the things that I stole from a Rebus Community textbook was to track adoptions. And having a survey even at the beginning of the textbook on the landing page. I haven’t really followed up with those people, but I do get at least within the first semester this is how much people have seen this, how many students have used it, which has been really, really helpful in just putting this forward as a project people might be able to understand.

And I think my first strategy towards making this stuff visible was to engage in OER research. So, basically publications for me, I have very little publication requirement. I am at a teaching focused school that likes to do some research, but I’m pretty far from an R1. So, studying teaching, studying pedagogy was a natural fit. I have ample access to that population, and there are tonnes of great resources out there.

And I think within just my own school, the scholarship of teaching is something that is included in our teaching requirements, that’s not actually student evaluations of teaching, which are not a particularly useful measure of anything. So, the process of engaging in OER research to the extent those things are experimental can actually give you other data that can talk about things that maybe student evaluations of teaching miss.

So, you can not only point to I got a 4.2 out of 5 but also students talked about how much it meant to me, that they did X, Y or Z. I think that’s pretty helpful. So, where I ran into a little bit of a challenge was all right, so I became an OTN campus leader. And so, I was doing some training work and some advocacy work on the campus. I was also doing some training at schools of social work across the state of Virginia.

I got a small grant to do some of that stuff, literally I had a roadshow presentation where I came and set up my stuff and talked about OER with social work professors. But I’m not a librarian, and OER is not part of my job description at all. And so, I think I sort of conceived of campus leader, it’ll probably fit somewhere under service. I’m probably not necessarily the best person to talk about tenure or promotion requirements.

Because even though I’ve read them, I’m still not 100% sure of where anything fits, and they didn’t really set me up with a mentor or somebody who’s going to guide me through that process. So, I’m just feeling it out. But yeah, it’s a lot less visible of a service position than you might ordinarily think. Luckily, this is something that other presenters have echoed, especially Carla, that having an open-minded administration was fantastic.

The chair of my department was very open to this and very open to the fact that once I heard about OER, I did a 180 from what they hired me to do research on. Fine. And also, a dean who was willing to put me on loan to essentially the provost. So, in Virginia, they passed a bill not this past legislative session, but the one before that, that public universities have to have some kind of OER policy.

And that’s it, that was the whole, that’s the end of the bill. So, in some campuses it is one line, saying, “OER is awesome.” That’s paraphrasing. In other campuses there was some guiding documents put out by SCHE-V, which is the southern version of WICHE (laughs) that we heard about earlier. And so, they put out some sample documents. Anyway, so our provost basically took that and created this OER committee.

He took people from each college, obviously I volunteered for my college, the college was just happy to have somebody do that. And what ended up coming out was an idea that we needed to be the people who were implementing OER course labelling who were creating faculty-based trainings in concert with our faculty development people. And then, just doing the nitty gritty invisible work of doing one on one help.

So, if somebody wants to adopt OER that they don’t want to buy into the adaptive courseware for an OpenStax textbook, who’s going to help them create stuff? I’m not an instructional designer, but I can talk about the permissions and responsibilities, who you might want to talk to. We’re a pretty lean university, so we do have instructional designers, but nobody who’s really working in open.

And then, also just raising their profile afterwards as well. So, to try and make their work more visible to campus. So, if you have people who are adopting OER, creating OER, or who are working on textbook affordability, even if they’re not doing open itself, raising their profile and trying to tell their stories as well is really great. So, advice I was given, which I am very glad I did is to get a course release for this stuff.

So, as the chair of the OER committee, I get some time off each semester to actually do some of that stuff. And also, I think like Carla said, I ended up dropping my responsibilities or transitioning out of the role where I was the coordinator for our online Masters’ programme. And it seemed that was going to be way too much stuff. The cool stuff is you get some new OER friends, you get other people who you had no idea were working on this stuff who are actually working on this stuff.

This is my first year as a campus leader, so everything’s new. And yeah, just taking advantage of policy changes, making your work visible to upper administration. OER is on their radar, our provost would forward me stuff from publications that provosts read which I didn’t really realise were a thing until now. But this is now on their radar and talking about it in terms of the issues that we’re facing, like retention or changing student body, cost savings to students is great.

I also see a lot of value in making this invisible work open to other people by sharing the stuff that OER committee members, OER advocates, OER trainers do more broadly, I think we’re going to open up an OSF to IO page and open up as much as we can for the stuff that we’re doing. Just so that other people don’t have to reinvent the wheel again.

Karen: Thanks, Matt. And thanks to our three guests, Tanya, Carla, and Matt for introducing some different strategies they’ve used around the issue of invisible labour in OER. As Matt was talking, a couple of questions came in on the chat and so, this is open to anybody in the call who would like to chime in. So, Amy Hofer is multitasking it sounds like from a bus. And her question is around the term invisible labour and whether it refers to labour that’s invisible because it’s gendered.

And if folks are thinking about this issue along the lines of feminist analysis by using the term in this context. So, Sybil who has the following question said that she’s definitely thinking that this is gendered from her experience on her campus. I think there’s probably many in this call who would agree that often it’s marginalised people who are doing invisible work and volunteering for it or having it show up on their desk.

Is there anyone else who would like to address Amy’s question? Or explore it?

Zoe: I can jump in a little briefly. I think Amy, we did talk about this a little more in part one and it was raised a couple of the things like I think this might have been Ali who was talking about this enthusiasm that you have to show when you’re constantly working with people and that that’s often that emotional labour is expected more of women in the workplace, generally. And so, it’s that same pattern is replicated within OER in a big way.

And then, as Karen mentioned, that it’s often people who are on the frontlines of seeing the value for students, who really put the care into the work that they do that does generally, that is gendered, and it’s also more common in all sorts of marginalised communities. As I say, I refer back to that one, there was some interesting discussion of those that we’d love to keep going as well.

And then, I’ll pause there and see if any of the guests want to dive on this, want to jump in a little.

Sarah: Zoe, this is Sarah Cohen, I’m sorry I’m not videoing, but I did just want to say I think that that’s such an interesting question for some research in the OER space. And I’m going to take a second to highlight the OER fellows’ programme that John Hilton runs out of the open education group. I think that that would be a really interesting topic for deeper exploration in OER. So, if someone, Amy, wants to take that up, I would really be interested in learning more about that.

Zoe: Yeah, I absolutely agree, it feels like the kind of thing I’ve heard and been a part of conversations about. But there’d be real value in taking that approach to it and surfacing more of it, because that’s exactly what we’re talking about here. There are so many different parts of what is happening in the OER community, both the active work that we’re doing on campus.

But also, the expectation for the people involved that could all do with more research and analysis and understanding so that we know what’s happening to the people involved in this work as we move forward and as we’re building this system together.

Karen: Okay, Sybil also had a broad question about basically getting open education started in her state. So, Tanya maybe you have some recommendations as Sybil is in North Dakota. So, she asks how can I, a lowly faculty member who already uses lots of emotional labour to rally the troops on my own campus, get something started in North Dakota like Oregon has, Open Oregon without putting another gorilla of invisible labour on my shoulders?

Tanya: Okay, so first of all, if I know what institution you’re at, I can connect you with a whole bunch of people. And if you’re in North Dakota, there’s already been a lot done. When I first started as an OER person, I was at the North Dakota University System Office, which is the governing body for all of the institutions in this state and it intersects with the legislature.

And I contacted the Open Textbook Network and a lot of the things that I’ve come to now are because of the great connections that I made with all of you, with SPARC, with others in the OER community. I was an OER fellow with John Hilton, as Sarah mentioned. And so, I just would say don’t do this all on your own. So, I feel the question itself was just very heavy and like you’ve got so much responsibility or like this is this huge lift.

When actually, there are literally thousands of us out there, who have already lifted. And if we all do it together, it’s so much easier to accomplish something. In the state of North Dakota, we’ve got the first audited OER initiative report from any state in the United States. And North Dakota saved anywhere between, his estimates were very low compared to institution estimates.

But institutions are estimating between $10 million and up, and others, his direct count of every OER penny was somewhere around the $2 million mark. At least that was a very conservative estimate. So, there’s just a lot already happening, and I’d be happy to help you connect with other advocates in your region. But for anybody who’s on the call that feels like this is their responsibility, or that they have to do this all on their own.

just I don’t want to say that’s a gendered thing in itself, but perhaps you feel like you have to do all the things, right? And you don’t have to do all the things. There are a lot of people who can help you. And as women maybe, if we’re talking in a gendered term that connects to the last question is that it’s okay to ask for help. Let some of it go. Not think you have to do everything.

You can just do one small, tiny thing, and it still helps the big lift. So, if that gives you some background.

Karen: Thanks, Tanya, and thanks for mentioning the Open Textbook Network. Sarah also mentioned that North Dakota is a member. And listening to you just reminded me that’s why we’re all here together in this Office Hours call, that’s why we’re partnered with the Rebus Community, because we’re all in this space. We definitely want to be here for one another and support one another.

So, if you are feeling like how am I going to do this all by myself? Hopefully, what you’re hearing is you don’t have to. People have walked this road before. They can share resources and tips and you can come to these calls and find a network of people who want to support your work.

Carla: Can I add something on to that?

Karen: Sure.

Carla: Just to say that I’m going to go a little off beat but let me finish this thought here. You can do some of this all on yourself, but it’s little, tiny, itty bitty, baby things. It’s just talking about it, getting people interested, clearing up some of the common misconceptions related to OER. But I think use that to put out your feelers to find out who can partner with you. Not just going to conferences or engaging in opportunities like these about oh those people were interested, too.

Can I reach out to them to see what they’re doing? Can I get some ideas? Can I borrow things from them? But especially your faculty, too. I think sometimes it’s one thing for us to say it with our institution of the library that this is important, that we need to be doing more to support this. But then, when it comes from people outside the library, when faculty are coming back to the dean or director of the library, saying, “Hey I had this great conversation with so and so about this.

What more can the library do to support this?” It can help emphasise to those people who can help you then prioritise more time in your job to do this. So, there are little, tiny, itty bitty, baby things you can do on your own. But just from somebody who tries to do everything on their own, because they feel like they should, then going back to emotional labour, you will burn yourself out so quick.

And it’s open, the whole idea of this is sharing. And to date, I have not met one single librarian who I’ve reached out to who’s been like, “No, I’m not going to partner with you, go away.” Instead they’re more like another ally, “Fantastic, what can we do to address this together?” Or steal from a copyright librarian, steal don’t infringe on copyright, but reach out to other institutions and say, “We did this with Texas ANM.

Hey, you guys did this great student recognition award. Could I possibly steal all the information you have, including your application form for that award?” And they were like, “Absolutely, here you go.” And we made it our own here. But those connections are so valuable, so definitely be on the look out. I would be shocked if you would not find people in your state who would be willing to partner with you.

Matt: Yeah. Just to throw into that. Yeah, I think once you start doing things in OER, like the recognition and stuff sort of comes. So, if you put out, even if it’s something relatively small, just that forward momentum, if there’s really, truly nobody else on your campus who is there to do that work, by doing that work, you can be that person. And that can be as small or as big as you need it to.

And I think making friends with librarians, people who are more familiar with the OER picture more broadly within your state, I know that’s really been helpful for me. Because those people really showed me this is a larger thing. I also think if you are not a librarian, that making your thing visible to your profession can be a thing. And because first I know it may seem strange to people here, but textbook costs, copyright, not usually a thing that’s talked about.

It may not be a problematized thing within your profession. So, you’re proposing OER as a solution, a solution to what? Like what? Everything works great, it’s good. So, I think that’s also a way to do that.

Karen: Matt, I think this next question is in response to something you mentioned in your presentation. So, both Wilhelmina and Tricia are very interested in knowing what provosts read. (Laughter) If anyone else knows.

Matt: I really don’t know. (Laughter)

Karen: If anyone has tips or ideas.

Matt: Yeah. Hang on, let me pull that up. I will pull up all of my, I’m not sharing them with you. (Laughs) So, they read press releases from publishers. They read stuff from the bookstore. They read, I don’t know where she found this, but our legislature passed an initiative to label no and low-cost textbooks I’m not really sure where she read that. Inside Higher Ed was a good one. And

Karen: What was that last one?

Matt: not a place that I had heard of before, but yeah.

Karen: Thanks, does anyone else have any thoughts on how to essentially get their provost’s attention or get this issue in front of them?

Tanya: I do. (Laughs) I think that provosts are interested in best practice in other institutions and they also tend to look to institutions. Can you hear me?

Karen: Yeah.

Tanya: Okay. They tend to look to institutions that they aspire to be like. And so, if you’re at a regional four-year institution, with a student base of around 2,000 students, that provost might be aspiring to be more like the R1 with 10,000 students. Or like a neighbouring school or they have a network of peer institutions. And so, if you’re interested in inciting the interest of your provost around OER, send them information about the awesome work that’s happening at a peer institution or another institution neighbouring that they look up to.

Even community college provosts are interested in what community colleges are doing in other states. And so, I think that giving them examples of what can be done, what is being done, and showing how much attention and positive reinforcement that gets for the institution is really enticing for a leader.

Zoe: I think that goes back to what Carla was saying as well, of looking at other people who have been successful in this work and borrowing from them or stealing from them with permission. Whether it is the conversations that they’ve had with their provosts in order to make the case for OER and things like that. I think that’s a really great way that you can draw from what other people have done already as well.

Tanya: I just want to say also when you’re talking to an administrator, administrators have certain things that they need to accomplish. So, starting with open pedagogy or starting with something that’s really dense and difficult is not the place to start. You start with something like, “Hey, if we can reduce the cost of attendance for all of our students”, this is a great sell to your boss, who makes the president look great.

And it’s something you could put on a billboard outside of town to attract more students. And these are the things that resonate with provosts. So, starting with something super dense that just doesn’t, and really academic, a lot of they just need the provost speak. I don’t know how to explain. You’re talking to a different audience, right?

Karen: And Michelle noted in the chat as well that they also listen to student government, and so that outreach can pay off in that way. Okay, the next question is about incorporating OER into a job description and if anyone has advice on how to proceed?

Carla: I’ll pitch in there. I think it depends. So, in my previous job I was also coordinator of scholarly communications which we know is an umbrella term for a lot of things. There, I was mainly the copyright librarian, but I was doing little bits of OER work here and there as I was able. So, for me, there it was including it in my annual report. Making it very clear to my boss that I’m doing this and that there’s more of the interest in this on campus.

And we’ve had these conversations about it. And do we want to prioritise this within the scope of the job that I’m doing by formalising it as part of my job description? Now, that said, I know job descriptions can be hard to rewrite. When they are actually easiest to rewrite is when there is nobody in that position. So, when I left that position in Colorado, one of my recommendations to my boss as I was leaving is if you do rewrite this position, I would encourage you to include OER or affordable learning in there.

So that this person is empowered to prioritise more with that. In my current job, it is written into my job description, but I think maybe it’s one or two sentences out of a page and a half long job description. But it’s recognising that there’s many different things in my job description but having that constant conversation with my boss about which things are we prioritising every year.

Or having that conversation with my supervisors, that I am more than happy to become the OER publishing librarian for three years. But if you’re going to have me do that, we need to communicate this to the campus, because I’m not going to be able to offer all of these other services that I’m doing. So, whether it’s formal or informal, again, having that conversation with your supervisors about the work that you’re doing.

But then, also making sure that you’re communicating that out as you are taking on these new responsibilities. Not only so that people understand how you can better help them if they’re interested in these things. But then, maybe if you’re backing off in some other places, letting people know “I may still be able to help you, but not as much as before”. Or “I’m so delighted you’re interested in that I have a colleague who’s taken over those responsibilities. Let me connect you with them.”

Karen: Thanks Carla. I have a question about quantifying the amount of work done. So, Matt mentioned tracking adoptions helps. You mentioned in talking with your supervisor about trying to sum up all of the work that you’re doing and the trade-offs that you’d have to make if you continued to do that work. Do you think it’s an effective strategy to track your hours for a time, in particular OER focused work?

Carla: Yes and no. And I might actually say and maybe this is a touchy subject, although I think it ties in. I track my hours I spend outside of work, working on this stuff. So, for example, I’m going to go home tonight and work on an OER affordable learning thing, because it needs to get done by the end of this week and tonight is the only time I’m going to be able to do it.

There was a time about a year ago, where for two weeks because we had something happen last minute, not only was I spending almost every hour on the job but every hour in the evening, and every hour over the weekend working on OER stuff. Some of that is on me, for working those outside hours, for choosing to do that. Some of it is wanting to get it done. Realising that maybe I didn’t have to do it in that way, but that I had my own motivations for helping support this person in the project.

Some of it is it’s kind of the way my job functions and being salaried you realise there are some hours you work 40 hours a week, there are some hours you work 50. But that was one of the more persuasive conversations I had with my supervisors is saying that I’m giving up my nights and weekends to work on these things and while I am happy to go to bat from time to time, this is not sustainable for me to give up these extra hours of my life continually to be able to do this.

So, we need to either look at different ways of me doing this. Some ways to maybe get me some help, like with student employees helping with these things. Or again, the rearrangement, the reprioritisation of the things that I’m doing in my job. So, now maybe I’m 75% affordable learning OER librarian and only 25% copyright librarian instead of both. So, I would say the most persuasive arguments I sometimes make are that invisible labour that we’re doing at home. Those hours I’m spending outside of my office doing this work.

Karen: I wonder if those are—

Tanya: Those are great suggestions. I would also add if folks on the call are interested in writing job descriptions, I think we’ve had some recent new programmes that have come up to help do training for open educational resources advocates, librarians. I teach with the SPARC open education leadership programme. The Open Textbook Network has a training for librarianship in open.

And we also have a Creative Commons certificate that has come up. And I would just caution folks who are writing job descriptions not to make those certificates or job descriptions, those particular programmes as a baseline. But maybe saying in there that you’ve expanded into or you have shown proficiency of open educational resources. So that as this field evolves, as a discipline, as an academic pursuit, that we’re all free to continue creating it.

I feel like overall we’re trying things to do more education, to improve competency, to show that we’re leaders in the area, while we’re still learning it. So, I would just, I heard talking about working these additional hours. And that shouldn’t be an expectation of the job description that someone would have to do a whole lot of additional work to either become competent or to do the job functions that they were hired to do.

So, I want everyone to get the training they need, and I love seeing OER librarian ads. I’m also cautious about what does that entail and what were they required to do prior to learning, and can they continue to learn on the job? It’s just a lot of considerations for the actual humans doing the work.

Sarah:  Tanya, this is Sarah. I couldn’t agree more and I’m so glad you said that. I was actually going to pop in and say I think connecting back to the theme of invisible labour. And I wanted to take a minute to just say that I have a concern in general, of those of us that are passionate about this work that are often the advocates and the champions for this work. And to go back to I think Sybil’s point earlier in the call around feeling like we’re the ones that have to carry this forward on our own in our institutions.

But I really want to stress that I think I hate, and Carla, please forgive me, I don’t mean to call you out here. But I hate to hear about people that are doing 40 hours at work and then another 20 or 30 hours on their own time when they go home. I just want to remind people we are people. (Laughs) And we are allowed to put our work down. And we are allowed to nourish ourselves and take care of ourselves in order to have the wherewithal to continue on to do this work.

I’m not saying don’t work from home. I’m just saying I think that the expectation that we need to continue to push on all fronts at all times even in those times when we are outside of work. I just think that’s something else that contributes to this concept of invisible labour and warrants careful consideration about burn out and about what are our goals as a movement and as educators in what are we conveying when we do that work? I just think that’s important.

Tanya: I think there’s this impatience that we all have to have all the answers and do it all right now and it needs to be all done. There’s this giant race toward we need this entire programme to be zero textbook cost tomorrow. And we really don’t. You can make it amazing. Those are all wonderful unicorn goals in the sky that are so wonderful when you see them. However, small changes are still really, really useful for our students.

Sarah: Absolutely.

Tanya: One book, one resource, one moment when you can talk to someone who’s never heard of open before. Those are all wins toward the big goal.

Sarah: And also, just to say I think this goes to the idea of the long game. We’re in this for a long game, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. And I think that we as people that are doing this work in trying to not only think about our programmes but very much to the point about job descriptions. Thinking about how do we institutionalise this work and make it part of the work of our institutions instead of just work that I’m doing at home?

These are the tactics of a bigger strategy. And how are we going to take this over time? And we have to be able to go over time and that’s why I get so worried around us all working so much on this beyond what we already do. Because I think we do need to consider how we’re going to keep going. And I think I just want to also say bravo for having calls like this, that allow people to voice these questions and concerns.

This is part of that nourishment, so thank you to Karen and to Apurva and to Zoe for hosting these calls, because I think it’s so important that this allows people to talk about these issues in a way that does support that struggle and that challenge.

Zoe: Thank you.

Tanya: I’m wondering if there’s a way that we can—this is kind of a little off the topic. But perhaps would alleviate some of this pressure? And you talked about emotional labour and the heaviness of doing such giant things. But I would love to see celebration of small wins. Right? These moments when one faculty member who just couldn’t even come to the session showed up. That’s a moment when we can celebrate something together.

Small wins toward open. I love somebody hash-tagged it already, which is awesome. But can we celebrate these things, so that we don’t all feel so responsible to make the whole world open? Which is what we all want, right?

Karen: I think Lee’s hashtag small wins in the chat is actually one great way to do that, because there’s also the conversation in the chat about the power of social media that provosts are reading Twitter. That this is one way that we can connect and find each other. So, hey, let’s give it a go, small wins. (Laughter) And see what we all come up with. It’s a great idea, especially if you are working remotely, or if you do feel isolated, you’re maybe one of the few people on your campus doing this work.

Just being able to tell someone hey, I have accomplished something wherever it falls on the spectrum of scale, size. So, this has been another great—Zoe.

Zoe: I’d like to jump in just with one point. Sorry, I’ve been trying to get in there, just to add to what Sarah said, which I think is really important. Thank you for chiming in with that. And as we’re thinking about how you do OER work, if we don’t figure out how to do it without there being those extra 20 or 30 hours built in, we’re also excluding people from being able to do the work.

That there are people with responsibilities outside of their 40 hours that mean that they cannot commit. It goes back to Amy’s mention earlier, about it being gendered, that the expectations on many women: for childcare, for family care, for housework, all of that means that many of them don’t have the time to do all this extra. So, all of us have to work out how to make this sustainable and a viable option for everybody to be able to get involved in OER.

Not just people who have the capacity to do that extra work, that’s just a point I wanted to make. And I think again, to refer back to our previous session, Monica spoke about this really well and some of the others, too. Okay, thank you, I just wanted to get that in there.

Karen: Yeah, well, it’s a good summary. We’re about out of time. We’re at the top of the hour, it’s been another lively conversation. So, thank all of you for your questions in the chat and that you’ve asked in person and the conversation that ensued. Please join me in thanking our guests, Tanya Spilovoy, Carla Myers, and Matt DeCarlo for sharing their stories and strategies.

And we hope to see you next month, when we’re going to talk about the glamorous world of printing open textbooks and how it sounds super simple, like don’t you just press a print button? Or hook up some print on demand service? But actually, it gets a little thorny. So, we’ll talk more about that next time. Until then, hashtag small wins. See you there.

Carla: Thanks everyone.

Zoe: Thanks everyone so much.

Chat Transcript

14:04:15 From Apurva Ashok : Contributor Marketplace:

14:04:35 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : Link for how to get a dedicated discussion space for your project:

14:24:56 From Amy Hofer : Hi from the bus! I”m multitasking while doing the invisible labor of traveling to Salem 🙂 This may have been covered in part 1, but does the term “invisible labor” tend to refer to labor that is invisible because it is gendered? Are folks thinking along the lines of feminist analysis by using the term in this context? Thanks.

14:26:48 From Sybil : Hi – Sybil from Wahpeton, ND here. My ?: How can I – a lowly faculty member who already uses lots of emotional labor to “rally the troops” on my own campus – get something started in ND like Oregon (OpenOregon) without putting another gorilla of invisible labor on my shoulders? {Amy: I definitely think this term is gendered, at least from my experience on my campus.}

14:27:15 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : The “Adoptions” chapter from The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far) that Matt mentioned.

14:28:11 From Amy Hofer : Hi Sybil! I think Tanya may be able to speak to the statewide situation in ND. I’m also happy to chat about Oregon’s program offline! 🙂

14:29:47 From Wilhelmina Randtke : Oooooo, what do provosts read?  (When you are done with the presentation, I want to know.)

14:31:15 From Sarah Cohen : Sybil, just an FYI, North Dakota is a member of the Open Textbook Network. Happy to tell you more offline.

14:31:39 From Tricia : I’ll echo Wilhelmina’s question: What do Provosts read? I would also love to know.

14:32:07 From Sybil : Excellent. To Matt’s comment about using OER publications for tenure, I recently was denied the level of professorship at my campus and it was partly due, imo, because they didn’t realize how difficult writing a textbook from scratch was (two of my books was full of original material; one other one was a mash-mash).

14:32:10 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : The recording of the last session on Invisible Labour:

14:33:20 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : and the transcript:

14:33:24 From Sybil : If I get into the Fellowship program, I’d love to research that.

14:33:28 From Amy Hofer : Thanks!

14:34:16 From Zoe Wake Hyde : Thanks for the question, Amy! Absolutely critical to this conversation.

14:34:34 From Zoe Wake Hyde : And Sybil, that would be amazing – go for it!

14:35:06 From Sarah Cohen : There’s more happening than you may know!

14:36:11 From cgermano : I am interested in incorporating OER into my job description. Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed?

14:36:15 From Sybil : I’m at the teeny tiny college of NDSCS. I’ll definitely look into who else is doing this work in ND; I think I’m the only OER weirdo at my college. 🙂

14:36:20 From Kathy Essmiller : Have the results of that OER audit been published? Was it North Dakota?

14:36:47 From Zoe Wake Hyde : Great things have come from sole OER weirdos on tiny campuses!

14:36:52 From Sybil : Yes, thank you Tanya for your response.

14:37:02 From Sybil : Yes, Zoe! 😀

14:37:39 From Rachel Becker : What talking points do you use to convince faculty who are already busy and find paywalled resources such as access codes easier to adopt OER?

14:39:22 From Jonathan Poritz : Even faculty usually share….

14:39:25 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : This list was shared on one of the listservs (sorry I can’t recall which one), but it is a great list of state wide leaders of OER

14:41:51 From Wilhelmina Randtke : Provosts:  press releases from publishers, announcements from book store, legislative initiative, Inside Higher Ed,

14:42:37 From Michelle Reed : They also listen to student government, so that outreach is very important.

14:43:39 From Apurva Ashok : +1, that’s a great addition to the list (and thanks Wilhelmina for writing it up!)

14:43:56 From Kathy Essmiller : ‘Quoting’, that’s what it’s called in jazz. It’s a complement.

14:44:07 From Zoe Wake Hyde : Love that, Kathy

14:44:40 From Jonathan Poritz : Somewhat similar to what Tanya said, provosts really care about what Boards of Governorns/Regents and state Dept of Higher Ed think.  And those organizations, if you can get in front of them, really can be swayed easily by pro-OER arguments. So sometimes an end-run around the provost is a working strategy (in my experience, at least).

14:44:53 From Jessica Norman | SAIT : I think that’s a good point – we have to remember that administration will have different goals/focus then our faculty.  

14:44:57 From Michelle Reed : Highlight impact on DFW rates- that’s huge.

14:45:10 From Wilhelmina Randtke : Spell out the acronym!

14:45:22 From Kathy Essmiller : Dallas Fort Worth? 🙂

14:45:23 From Michelle Reed : drop-fail-withdraw

14:45:48 From Amy Hofer : Two recent webinars on OER librarianship on this page:

14:45:54 From L Ray : This is going back to Amy’s comment earlier – I was also thinking about the intersection between age and gender and emotional labor.  I often see functional librarian roles (supporting OER/instructional design) that are held by younger (or early career) librarians and there is the expectation that having an endless amount of energy to “rally the troops” is just part of the role.  And a lack of acknowledgement that those who have been librarians for many years and are in traditional roles aren’t being asked to do that work (or are given a pass to “opt out” of outreach). I’m currently working on strategies for bridging those gaps at my institution and will be presenting on it at OpenEd19 – woo!  

14:46:01 From L Ray : Unfortunately I’m multitasking in a public space and can’t unmute my audio to speak, sorry.

14:46:44 From L Ray : And ha thinking about how I’ve held my OER librarian role for almost a year and my job description is still in draft mode -perhaps a good thing.

14:47:04 From Sybil : Oooh L Ray – I think you are onto something. The older faculty I’ve spoken with don’t want to get on the OER train because they’re too close to retirement. They’ve been given that “opt out” pass.

14:47:18 From Mark Sheaves – OTN : In my experience, Provosts are pretty responsive to Tweets too! Many read Tweets that they are tagged in, and that can be a good way to get your work and achievements seen. Also, like Tanya said, short and impactful messages are best and a Tweet might be enough to start the conversation

14:48:18 From Mark Sheaves – OTN : Tweets from library or departmental accounts are more effective – so making friends with people who run those helps.

14:48:31 From Michelle Reed : +1 for tweets

14:48:51 From Jessica Norman | SAIT : Stats have helped me persuade my instution to provide more staff hours.  # of OER research requests, # of hours spent to support those requests, # of workshops given,

14:48:52 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : +1 to Mark. A tweet can rope in others who can support your OER goals

14:49:29 From Amanda Larson : I logged almost 40 extra hours doing crunch production this past fall because it was work that just had to get done

14:50:18 From Amy Hofer : And here is a dump with PD language: (feel free to add – it’s an editable doc)

14:50:22 From Apurva Ashok : Monica Brown mentioned at our previous session about how arduous tracking hours can be, valuable though it is to demonstrate all the time and extra time going in to everyone’s work – there better be a ‘hours spent tracking hours’ line item on that timesheet!

14:50:59 From April Akins : Thanks Amy H.

14:51:02 From Michelle Reed : Our admin has been very interested in “inclusive access,” so I always share news (e.g., lawsuit, student gov investigations) related to automatic purchasing programs and access codes with our Provost. I always get a resposne.

14:51:10 From Kathy Essmiller : Yes, also have to be careful, in open, with those certifications/credentials.

14:51:32 From Kathy Essmiller : I think, anyway, we make ‘knowledge’ accessible but close access by building barriers through credentials.

14:51:52 From Lauren Ray : Also agree with the care in credentialing around OER.   

14:53:02 From Amy Hofer : Might be useful to consider the concept of “vocational awe” – here’s the article that was my introduction to this idea:

14:53:49 From Jonathan Poritz : Maybe it’s because the labor is invisible that it has to happen “off the clock”?

14:54:56 From Sybil : Completely agree with you Tanya. Tiny things are totally doable… I think I just get so worked up like WE MUST DO IT ALL NOW GO GO GO. So glad you’re all calming me down.

14:55:09 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : For anyone concerned about burn out, the Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work podcast did a great episode on the subject:

14:55:11 From cgermano : I agree completely Sarah.

14:55:39 From Mark Sheaves – OTN : I think Carla’s comments about breaking projects / responsibilities into areas with assinged hours for each is effective. I really advocate for prioritizing time to plan out work, often a week every six months, and to plan it out using a project management tool so it’s possible to see what is feasible in a work week and to share that with a supervisor periodically.

14:56:12 From Leigh Kinch-Pedrosa : #SmallWins

14:57:55 From Mark Sheaves – OTN : Celebrate #SmallWins *1000! And Tanya, you are super engaged on social media and I always appreciate how much you support others there

14:58:46 From Heather Caprette – Cleveland State U : Thank you!

14:58:47 From Amy Hofer : Thank you for a great office hours!

14:58:50 From Apurva Ashok : Thank you all!

14:58:51 From Sarah Cohen : Thank you so much!

14:58:53 From Tricia : Thanks so much everyone!

14:58:54 From Carla Myers : Thanks everyone!

14:58:55 From Lauren Ray : Thanks – this is always helpful!

14:58:56 From April Akins : Thanks!

14:58:57 From Jonathan Poritz : Thank you all!

14:59:02 From Kathy Essmiller : Leigh what is your Twitter handle?

14:59:06 From cgermano : #smallwins able to attend Office Hoiurs

14:59:09 From Apurva Ashok : Our next Office Hours session on print:

14:59:13 From Apurva Ashok : Thanks everyone!

14:59:14 From hristovar : Thank you!

Thanks to Mei Lin for preparing the audio transcript and video captions!

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