by Andrea Scott, CC BY

Key Terms: Internship Sustainability, Inclusive Internship Practices, Inclusive Benefits of Open Pedagogical Practices

A brick bridge spans over a mossy river and stone pathway.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by enneafive is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) is a large, public community college in Salt Lake County, Utah. SLCC supports strategies for improving student access, success, and completion through the  College’s Strategic Plan. The Open Educational Resources Initiative at SLCC begin in 2013 to address the barrier of textbooks cost funded by a pilot through Project kaleidoscope. Since 2013, Open SLCC has grown to with an estimated $15 million is student cost savings, 179,652 students have benefited from the program. 

 In the Fall of 2018, Salt Lake Community College’s Open SLCC Team explored the opportunity to participate in the College’s Campus Internship Program to raise student visibility of OERs. This partnership resulted in the creation of the OER Student Advocacy and Outreach Internship, which led to the development of the Student OER Advocacy Training (SOAT) Guide. The SOAT Guide’s goals were to help interns develop skills related to advocacy within the context of Open SLCC and to establish sustainability and consistency within the internship in the long-term. Alongside these overarching goals, the interns would also develop information literacy skills and career-oriented transferrable skills. The SOAT Guide was reconceptualized in 2019 to create an OER that more inclusive, scalable, easy to update, modular, explicitly integrated with components of open pedagogy through the signature renewable assignments  

Strategies for Addressing Sustainability in an Internship Program 

Within the first semester of the internship program, one challenge became evident; training would be intensive. If not addressed, the internship program could quickly turn into a part-time job heaped onto the program’s workload with commitments already bursting at the seams. Another looming sustainability challenge was the need to establish continuity between interns. In the second semester of the internship, the solution was discovered serendipitously. The then intern changed majors from Business to Human Resource with an emphasis on training, meaning the career aspects of their internship also needed to change. It was during a career goal conversation that we began to discover our solution. The intern needed a career-oriented project, and the program needed an OER Student Training Guide. A Student training guide could assist with the intensive training, and the concept of continuity would be built into the design. 

The SOAT Guide 

Approached with curiosity, optimism, and ambition, the first iteration of the Student OER Advocacy Training Guide (SOAT) was drafted. The first draft drew on other Student OER Advocacy guides and was adapted to create content relevant to the Open SLCC program. The SOAT Guide was reviewed by Andrea Scott, Operation Associate, Faculty Development and Educational Initiatives in 2019 to explore incorporating open pedagogical practices, refining the presentation. Jen Hughes, Archives, New Media, and Educational Initiatives Librarian was brought in to add concepts of information literacy. Assignments were redesigned to be renewable, and we began to discern ways in which the SOAT Guide could be envisioned to support interns from diverse backgrounds, especially to create a guide that was inclusive and rooted in the desire to provide equitable access to any student into the internship program.  

The redesigned SOAT Guide is self-paced with 15 modules. Ideally, each intern will finish modules 1-8 in their first semester. These modules cover internship onboarding and provide a basic introduction to OER, SLCC’s OER initiative, and an introduction to renewable signature assignments. This is typically achieved at the pace of one module per week during the semester. However, this process is flexible, and interns can adjust their speed as appropriate.  

Renewable Signature Assignments  

The signature assignments incorporate open pedagogy elements and demonstrate how OER materials provide equal opportunities to develop information literacy skills. Each intern is presented with multiple options. The intent is for an intern to complete a minimum of one signature assignment a semester, although they can complete more signature assignments depending on the situation. Current options outlined in the training guide include the following types of signature assignment deliverables:   

  • flyer/poster    
  • presentation    
  • outreach video or tutorial
  • game or activity    
  • student survey   
  • blog post    
  • assist with editing, updating, and creating new material relevant to future OER Student 
  • develop your own assignment   

Regardless of which type of signature assignment the intern chooses, the scaffolding of the assignment is similar. Signature assignments are designed to be renewable assignments. Van Allen and Katz, in their April 2020 Ditching the Disposable workshop for the OER20 conference, define renewable assignments as those “which can be used and shared after it is complete,” emphasizing the need for deliverables that have value outside of an intern’s own learning. Each assignment is designed to incorporate frames, research, evaluation of resources, and a reflection. The process empowers the intern to engage in learn-driven education, providing a more personalized experience.   

Once the student’s renewable signature assignment is complete, interns are able to choose to openly license the content and share it with the broader community. If an intern decides to publish their work, they will complete a Student Release of Course Material Form designed by the Salt Lake Community College Legal and Risk Department. 

Inclusive Benefits of Open Pedagogical Practices and Open Pedagogy 

It is not a novel idea to suggest that Open Educational Practices and Open Pedagogy provide “inclusive, and equal access to educational opportunities.” (Naidu) But it is within the context of the application of the learning modality we choose to demonstrate the inclusive benefits. First, for the purpose of this application of Open Pedagogical Practices, we need to define what Open Pedagogical Practices are for the terms of the use within the SOAT Guide. We build on the principles outlined in the Eight Qualities of Open Pedagogy outlined in the table 1. 

Table 1 Eight Qualities of Open Pedagogy – SOAT GUIDE

Open = Agency – Learners are individuals and independent agents within the learning process. They are allowed to operate independently and explore with personal freedom The SOAT Guide allows interns to explore learning with guidance. One signature renewable assignment enables the interns freedom to build and design their assignment within the OER Advocacy and Outreach context. 
Open = Choice– Learners choose their own pace, their own direction, and their own direction The SOAT Guide is modular and designed to be self-paced and learnercentered.
Open = Creativity – Openness translates to rich possibilities that inspire new perspective and ideas Interns take the leadership role within their signature assignment and are encouraged to explore through creativity and curiosity. 
Open = Student Constructed – Learners take responsibility for their learning networks and are active participants in its planning and growth.  

Under the guidance of the internship supervisor, the intern develops their own careerrelated goals each semester.  

The SOAT Guide outlines specific work readiness goals related to OER Advocacy and Outreach as the following.   

  • Advocacy   
  • Outreach   
  • Open Educational Resources   
  • Communication   
  • Problem Solving   
  • Project Management   
  • Creative Commons Licensing   
  • Research   
  • Publication   
  • Open Education Week   
  • Event Planning   
  • Leadership   
  • Teamwork & Collaboration   
  • Committee Participation & Work  

 Amanda Larson, “What Is an Open Education Librarian, Even?,” The 16th Annual Open Education Conference, 2019. 

Open = Open Ended Problems – Learning design is focused less on specific outcomes or competencies than on process. It is about empowering learners to create real solutions to real problems. 

The signature renewable assignment options guide interns to use “his or her cumulative learning to pursue a significant project related to a problem she or he defines…the student takes the lead and produces work that expresses insights and learning gained from the inquiry and demonstrates the skills and knowledge she or he has acquired.”  


Association of American College and Universities, The Leap Challenge: Education for a World of Unscripted Problems (Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2015), 2. 

Open: Unmeasurable Outcomes – Traditional outcome measurement implies the learning is static and closed The internship program is not offered as a credit course. Progress is measured by the intern’s ability to master their career goals outlined in their Campus Internship Plan and completion of the renewable signature assignment.  
Open = Risk and Goodness – Choosing often leads to unexpected and unpredictable results. While there is risk associated with the unknown, there is even greater reward and goodness.  Interns are encouraged to take risk in learning even if the risk means failing and trying again.  

In The case for open educational practice Editorial, Naidu challenges us to see Openness in a boarder context.  

“Open educational practice comprises a lot more than free and open access to educational resources, although that is most certainly an important part of it. Open education is best seen as an omnibus term that has many dimensions including the following critical attributes: 

  • Open access: Inclusive and equal access to educational opportunities without barriers such as entry qualifications and ability to pay. Value principle: (All lives have equal value.) 

  • Open learning: Ability to study and learn at anytime, anywhere and at any pace. Value principle: Freedom and the flexibility to choose the mode, medium, time, place and pace of study. 

  • Open scholarship: Releasing educational resources under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others. Value principle: Education is a basic need that should be accessible to all, if we were to achieve education for all towards a path to real freedom, justice and equality (see Sen, 1999). (Naidu)”

Using Naidu’s editorial as a guide, inclusive aspects of the internship and SOAT Guide Include: 

  • Open Access: The SOAT Guide is openly licensed  
  • Open LearningThe SOAT Guide is Self-paced & Learner-Centered 
  • Open ScholarshipThe renewable signature assignment offers publishing the process of creation teaches the intern the process of information from concept to publication, which is not typically achieved during a student’s term at a community college. 


 In the true nature of OER, the SOAT Guide began as a serendipitous solution to addressing the long-term sustainability challenges of a student internship program but has evolved to into so much more. The reconceptualization to create a guide that is more inclusive, scalable, easy to update, modular, and integrated with components of open pedagogy has also provided a space for students to dream, explore, create and publish.