How to Use This Toolkit

Librarians and instructional designers at institutions of higher education are often tasked with instructing or coaching faculty, staff, or students involved in curriculum-related or grant-funded outreach projects to PreK-12 audiences. As this type of coaching is not a typical area of training for librarians and instructional designers, we designed the toolkit for multiple user audiences: for use by practicing professional librarians or instructional designers, and for active-student learning course experiences within graduate-level library and information science and/or instructional design courses. While these reader communities may conduct direct outreach to and within PreK-12, we generally envision librarian and instructional design professions taking on the role of instructor and coach to subject matter experts seeking to conduct PreK-12 outreach.

This material may likewise be used for project-based university-level education in which graduate or undergraduate students form new outreach-oriented partnerships to contribute usable content to PreK-12 learning environments. A third potential use for higher education faculty or staff, and especially librarians and instructional designers involves leveraging open licenses on the various presentations, transcripts, forms and templates to support and customize their outreach efforts to PreK-12 generated from within higher education.

Philosophical and Praxis Framing

This toolkit is built on the premise that freely sharing educational materials is good, and that sharing with open licenses is even better. Further, this toolkit assumes the reader and collaborators’ intent to build and share content under the conditions of open educational resources (OER)—namely, that collaborators using this material intend to freely and publicly release their original works for others to use under a license that permits free use, reuse, modification and sharing with others.

Consistent with Davis (1989) Technology Acceptance Model[1] which posits that the acceptance of new practices, like new information technologies, depends on the perception of usefulness and perceived ease of use, with ease of understanding (Rogers and Shoemaker, 1971)[2]) and self-efficacy (Bandura, 1982)[3], the level of one’s ability to execute a course of action being a determinant of ease of use, and cost-benefit analysis relating to perceived usefulness. We hope that readers find that the concepts and practices shared within are understandable, easily transmittable, can be combined with readers’ and collaborators’ expertise, and will ultimately be actionable and productive.

Selected Learning Objectives

This resource was created with a variety of learning objectives. These are located at the beginning of each chapter.

  • Summarize the nature of challenges in collaborative partnerships between higher education and PreK-12 education
  • Identify how to obtain training required of faculty, staff, and students who work with minors
  • Identify different formats/displays of Creative Commons licenses on works found on the web or items in the wild
  • List five allowable cases in which something can be incorporated into one’s OER
  • Download and correctly attribute Creative Commons-licensed images
  • Use tips and strategies for connecting with school districts
  • Articulate general features of collaborative partnerships
  • Determine who your potential partner(s) may be
  • Reflect on the level of effort and level of benefit of your proposed project for the school district
  • Make informed and user-centric decisions regarding what software to use
  • Demonstrate how to adapt an openly-licensed resource
  • Articulate basic steps to develop and evaluate resources for accessibility
  • Demonstrate how to correctly attribute adaptation of a Creative Commons’ licensed work
  • Evaluate your own work and request evaluation of your work from teachers or other stakeholders
  • Create and share an open educational resource

Collaborative partnerships are as unique as the individual partners and their contexts, so advanced topics on collaboration are not included. With regard to development of learning resources, we have aimed to be agnostic regarding technical platforms, with the understanding that the best environments in which to develop and share resources are ones that will actually be used.

How the Toolkit is Organized

The toolkit is organized sequentially in the order needed for learning, instructing and coaching faculty, staff, and students within higher education, and those faculty, staff, and students developing and engaging in collaborative partnerships with PreK-12 educators. Each of these sections includes one or more of the following: video, presentations, transcripts, activities, guides, assignments, assessments, templates, and self-assessment tools.

  • Part I: Mastering the Context includes preparatory materials for all three levels of learners. These are designed to build foundational knowledge regarding collaboration challenges, best practices for direct work with students under age 18, an introduction to open educational resources, principles of copyright, a practical guide for finding, using and attributing openly-licensed images, an accessibility guide, and an introduction to empowering and building collaborative partnerships with PreK-12.
    • These resources are designed to be used and presented by librarians and/or instructional designers who are engaged in instructing or coaching higher education faculty, staff, and students who will make the connections with PreK-12.
  • Part II: Explore and Build a Collaboration is action-oriented and intended to enable an informed and reflective practice for higher education personnel reaching out to PreK-12 educators.
    • These resources are intended for use by higher education faculty, staff, and students making connections with PreK-12 educators
  • Part III: Develop and Evaluate Learning Resources describes adapting Creative Commons-licensed resources, includes guidance for adapting openly-licensed resources, tools for checking one’s work, and obtaining structured feedback from a PreK-12 partner. A brief discussion regarding selection of software or hosting sites is included. The list of software/hosting options are specific to the current mainstream PreK-12 uses and are not intended to be comprehensive.
    • These resources are intended for use by higher education faculty, staff, and students.
  • Part IV: Share Learning Resources with a Broader Audience presents rationale for sharing with an emphasis on making the learning resources discoverable by a broad audience.
    • This section is intended for use by higher education faculty, staff, and students, and PreK-12 partners.
  • Finally, Part V: Evaluate Your Learning presents a self-assessment exercise
    • This resource is intended for use by all learners.

When provided, slide decks are available in GoogleSlides and PPT. Each slide deck contains a text transcript in the “notes” section of the Google slide deck and within the toolkit. Most slide decks contain self-test questions throughout.

Navigating the Toolkit by Role and Paths through the Material

Relevant to all roles are sections in Part I: Mastering the Context which is designed to encourage development of baseline knowledge regarding: 1 documented challenges in PreK-12 and Higher Ed collaboratives, 2 working directly with minors, 3 the case of open educational resources, 4 copyright, 5 using others’ works, 6 finding, using, and attributing openly-licensed images, 7 accessibility, 8 the need for librarians to reset expectations regarding their role, and the ultimate purpose of the toolkit, 9 empowering teachers and building successful collaborative partnerships. The toolkit is designed for use in formal instructional settings, specifically for use as an experiential learning resource for courses in graduate programs in library and information science. However, there are multiple paths through the material for collaborators with many different roles.

Sample Scenarios

For readers without a specific scenario in mind, the following sample scenarios may spark some ideas regarding potential uses of this material:

  • A professor in earth science is enthusiastic for PreK-12 students to learn about new research they have published regarding Yellowstone National Park[4]. The research includes specific scientific methods and has practical impacts for understanding the geology of the park. The level of the research and language of recent articles is too advanced for PreK-12 students. The researcher wonders, “This is so interesting. How can I make this relevant to a PreK-12 audience? How would I narrow the content to be useful? Is there any alignment with PreK-12 standards? What might that look like in a PreK-12 context? Can I use this as a “broader impacts” part of a grant proposal[5]?
  • A graduate student who studies video gaming thinks that PreK-12 students might be inspired for future careers in music, technology, or programming by exposure to methods for research in her area. How does this graduate student find a teacher who might also be interested in exploring the feasibility of this idea and collaborating to develop learning resources around it?
  • A librarian has been asked to provide guidance to a group of researchers who have a grant to create learning materials[6] with and for specific PreK-12 grade levels in the area of their expertise. What value added does the librarian provide on copyright, open licensing, and training others?
  • An undergraduate student in education is tasked with developing content for a PreK-12 class as part of an accredited college course. How can they get up to speed on all they might need to know in order to create something useful for the PreK-12 audience? Where might this student start? What is most important for the student to know?

Using the Toolkit in a Formal Instruction Setting

This modular toolkit contains assignments, activities, and links to additional readings which provide practice or real-world application for those courses focused with an PreK-12 outreach or consulting within higher education component.

The toolkit also provides introductory materials regarding open educational resources (OER) for readers whom this concept may be unfamiliar. In an instructional setting OER may be adopted “as is,” arranged, curated, customized/adapted, or added to. Each level of practice has different implications for the level of effort. Regardless of the route a teacher takes to use open educational resources, there are things to learn and things to do that are not without effort. Here are some of the costs—and things that teachers or collaborators involved in making OER may need to learn to do. These are addressed within the toolkit.

  • Locate OER
  • Review OER
  • (optional) Adapt or author OER
  • Apply copyright, open licensing, and fair use knowledge
  • Track added content, licenses, and required attributions
  • Ensure the accessibility of the open educational resource for most users with disabilities

Other toolkits, such as the OER Starter Kit [7] contain even more practical information for OER beginners.

  1. Davis, F. D. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technologyMIS Quarterly, 13(3), 318-340.
  2. Rogers, E.M. and Shoemaker, F.F. Communication of Innovations: A Cross-Cultural Approach, Free Press, New York, NY, 1971.p.154
  3. Bandura, A. "Self-Efficacy Mechanism in Human Agency," American Psychologist (37:2), February 1982, pp. 122-147.
  4. Finn, C.A., Bedrosian, P.A., Holbrook, W.S. et al. Geophysical imaging of the Yellowstone hydrothermal plumbing system. Nature 603, 643–647 (2022).
  5. U.S. National Science Foundation. [n.d.] Broader Impacts. NSF.
  6. United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). Initiating the rural cyberbiosecurity workforce pipeline through empowering agricultural educators and supporting middle school girls. Research, Education & Economics Information System.
  7. Elder, A., (2019) The OER Starter Kit. Iowa State University Digital Press.


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Making Open Educational Resources with and for PreK12 Copyright © 2023 by Anita R. Walz and Julee P. Farley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.