Open Communities

Explore: Culture of Sharing

girl with open arms
Girl with Open Arms by Sajal_Gallery_House on Pixabay

Cultivate a Culture of Sharing

Now that we understand the importance — and the motivations — of sharing, we can explore how to remove the barriers. From an institutional perspective, it is important to help cultivate a culture of sharing. Organizational culture impacts the sharing of knowledge in four ways — it shapes assumptions about knowledge; it defines the relationships between knowledge at individual and organizational levels; it creates the context for social interaction; and it shapes creation and adoption of new knowledge (Long & Fahey, 2000).

According to Long & Fahey (2000), an organization’s culture provides direction on what knowledge is relevant and should be shared, as well as who has control over the knowledge — the organization or the individual. For example, if an institution places importance on teaching and learning, faculty may feel more inclined to share best practices. As well, policies on content ownership can provide guidance on what information can be shared.

Norms and practices of the organization can allow for natural collaboration to take place. Providing access to tools and technology will not necessarily translate into their use. If interaction and sharing is encouraged and supported, individuals will feel more comfortable doing it, and eventually it may become practice. For example, if faculty and staff meetings include opportunities for sharing, people may feel more motivated to engage.

Lastly, action taken on shared knowledge can lead to the creation of new knowledge and experiences. This means that knowledge shared can be built on and re-shared. Recall the example provided in the video on the scenario page of this module where content shared in a class on climate change was then progressively re-shared around the world, leading to opportunities for collaboration and new ideas.

The following suggestions for organizations are inspired by this guidance on cultivating a culture of sharing: 

Culture of Sharing Suggestions

    • Support and direction from the organization or administration (strategic plans, goals or visions);
    • Rewards and incentives (grant programs, teaching off-load time, promotions, recognition);
    • Policies and guidance on ownership of intellectual property;
    • Professional-development opportunities;
    • Institutional working groups; and
    • Technology infrastructure and support (Alhawary & Alshamaileh, 2017).

The following resources and examples can be used to implement the suggestions above and shift your institution’s organizational culture toward openness.

Tools for Sharing

Recall: Ontario Extend Collaborator Module

In the Ontario Extend Collaborator Module you created a Twitter account and started to engage with your peers in your personal learning network.

A culture of sharing can be ignited by the work of an individual or a group of people who work to champion the cause — or by simply providing a model for others to emulate. So how do we begin to share our work openly? Posting content to social media, or sharing work we have done in collaborative tools like Google Docs, or Office 365 can be a start! Explore some technology options in the accordion below that can be leveraged to share openly.


Importance of Tagging

photo showing graffiti tagging, making the connection to digital tagging where we are providing information
Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

When you share OER, you want to do so in a way that makes it easy for others to be able to find it when they are searching. To enhance that search, you will want to classify, or “tag,” your OER content. Tags enable the classification and organization of content. Classification systems can either be created by individual users tagging their content as they see fit (bottom up), or as a set of pre-defined keywords decided upon in advance by site administrators (top down).

H5P Studio Tags asks for keywords - to make it easier for others to find content.
H5P Studio Keywords input text box by eCampusOntario licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA

Tagging items is one of the ways to become an active contributor in the open-source movement, which is defined as a distributed, participatory and collaborative environment. When you create tags, you are sharing the way you classify items — which can be useful to others who are searching for the items.

The image to the right has been taken from the eCampusOntario H5P Studio and shows the area where authors can add keywords to tag content. You can find a list of all tags or keywords at the eCampusOntario H5P Studio tags list.

The Power of Metadata

Metadata is data that provides information about other data. When you share OER through any of the repositories, you will be asked to provide information such as the title, author name, type of material, keywords and tags. This metadata becomes associated with that material — and facilitates the search process. Additionally, when you provide information about others’ OER — by rating, reviewing and tagging the material — you are providing metadata that becomes attached to that OER. The metadata you provide in your own OER — as well as the information you provide by tagging, rating and reviewing of others’ OER — enriches the content by giving descriptive information that assists in searching and re-use of the materials.

Most sharing platforms will have options for adding metadata. The more complete and descriptive the metadata is the more discoverable the work will be. OER Commons Help Center has an excellent overview of material types. The video below shows the process of editing your book’s metadata when using the Pressbooks publishing platform. You can also refer to the Pressbooks Add Relevant Metadata guide to learn how to add relevant information in order for your book to be discoverable.


Watch “Adding OER Metadata with PressbooksEDU” on YouTube (transcript available)


Extend Connections

Do some research and determine whether or not your institution has a policy around open work.

  • If a policy exists, do you think it includes all the resources needed to support a culture of sharing? Why or why not?
  • If your institution does not have a policy, does it have the supports and infrastructure required for open work?

Share your findings with your organization and your personal learning network.


Alhawary, Faleh & Alshamaileh, Maher. (2017). Determinant Factors of Knowledge Sharing among Academic Staff in the Jordanian Universities. European Journal of Social Sciences. Volume 55. 415-426.nt here.

Long, David & Fahey, Liam. (2000). Diagnosing Cultural Barriers to Knowledge Management. Academy of Management Executive. 14. 113-127. DOI:10.5465/AME.2000.3979820.


Sharing and Promoting OER by SUNY OER Services licensed under CC BY 4.0


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Extending Into the Open Copyright © 2022 by Paula Demacio; Alissa Bigelow; Tricia Bonner; and Shauna Roch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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