The Value of Time: Going on Sabbatical? Try OER

, Educational Policies Committee Chair

The Greek philosopher Theophrastrus once said: “Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” As faculty, we often spend our time on professional development activities. Workshops, research projects, and sabbaticals support our personal and professional growth and lead to improvements in our students’ achievement and learning. One way to invest our professional development time is to work toward the implementation of Open Educational Resources (OER) in your classes.

OER improves student outcomes and is of financial value to students: developing a plan for using OER in your classes provides faculty with valuable new resources and teaching materials with which to work, as well as providing needed relief for students who suffer the burden of excessive textbook and supplemental materials costs. A professional development plan looks different for every faculty and in every discipline, and can range from a few activities to a full-blown sabbatical. Here are a few ideas to consider when developing an OER development plan:

Annotated Web Bibliography

Assembly Bill 798 (Bonilla, 2015) encouraged the use of OER and calls for the development of zero-textbook-cost degrees to support student engagement in education and completion of their academic goals. But, for many faculty who are just beginning to explore the world of OER, where to start can seem confusing. You can support OER and the faculty in your department by creating an annotated web bibliography of resources available in your discipline and help them find them on the web. Spend some time browsing the Cool4Ed website’s free and open textbooks on the MERLOT collection at <; or other resources with a Creative Commons License. Rubrics for evaluating quality OER materials are available online; one good example is’s comprehensive OER rubric at <;.

Build an OER Community

For those faculty who are already comfortable using OER but want to encourage others, a sabbatical or extended professional development project could be to act as coordinator and organizer of OER activities at your college.  Bringing your expertise and knowledge of OER to others can have a lasting impact on students throughout your college or district. The California OER Council provides instructions for creating an OER community to make your process even easier with ideas for offering workshops to your colleagues or planning entire OER campus plans for implementation; see <(…)>.

Create Your Own

Possibly the most ambitious sabbatical or professional development project is to write your own OER teaching materials. The OER Commons website at <; provides several tools for building your own materials and licensing them in ways that protect your intellectual property while making your work available to other faculty and students. Whether you are developing materials for use in your class section only, or acting as a lead in your department, this site and others can provide the tools to develop materials unique to your students’ needs. Turn your sabbatical into something of lasting benefit academically and financially for your students and many others.

These are just a few ways to approach your OER professional development activities in an organized way that can benefit greatly you and your students. The Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) and the California legislature have invested considerable resources and support in the implementation of OER and the creation of Zero-Textbook Cost degrees providing faculty with the opportunity to take a sabbatical or to pursue other professional development activities that will create a lasting impact for current and future students. The CCCCO’s website for Open Educational Resources is a great place to start your journey. See <…;.