Meet FLO Facilitator: Asif Devji

Over the years, individuals from institutions and organizations across British Columbia have taken Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) to the next level by participating in the Facilitator Development/Mentorship program and co-facilitating one or more of the FLO courses. If you are thinking about adopting FLO courses at your institution, these are the people who can help!

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

What got you started on this path to becoming a FLO facilitator and mentor?  

It was a trajectory that began many years ago when I joined the BCcampus SCoPE community as a participant in the earliest MOOCs exploring online learning theory and practice. Since then, I’ve been a participant in multiple FLO courses and MicroCourses. I went on to become a FLO Enthusiast and participated in a program redesign session. Finally, I facilitated a FLO course myself in partnership with a mentor. Each experience has helped me to stretch, be challenged, learn, and grow in my practice. The logical next step is to mentor an upcoming FLO facilitator and share the knowledge I’ve gained.

What experience and expertise do you bring to this new support role of helping others to adopt or facilitate FLO courses?  

My career has criss-crossed between organizational learning, communication, and productivity technologies, so I’ve lived the reality of online learning from an educational, administrative, business, and IT perspective. This allows me to support course facilitation, process, and technology issues, which often intertwine to impact successful delivery. As a proponent of open learning, my own courses tend to be problem-based, project-driven, learner-led and connectivist, all of which end up being a good fit with the FLO approach.

How can people contact you?

Via my LinkedIn profile or directly at

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Indigenization Guide: Colonization

An excerpt from Pulling Together: Foundations Guide by Kory Wilson

Before the arrival of European explorers and traders, North America was occupied by Indigenous Peoples living and thriving with their own distinct cultures, languages, and ways of knowing. Today, while many Indigenous people are very successful in business, law, medicine, arts, and sports, Indigenous Peoples as a group are at the negative end of every socio-economic indicator. How did this happen?

The short answer is colonization.

What is colonization?

In Canada, colonization occurred when a new group of people migrated to North America, took over and began to control Indigenous Peoples. Colonizers impose their own cultural values, religions, and laws, make policies that do not favour the Indigenous Peoples. They seize land and control the access to resources and trade. As a result, the Indigenous people become dependent on colonizers.

Today many Indigenous people still struggle, but it is a testament to the strength of their ancestors that Indigenous People are still here and are fighting to right the wrongs of the past.

Go forth, nor bend to greed of white men’s hands,
By right, by birth we Indians own these lands.

– Emily Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake, 1861–1913;  Mohawk/English poet and performer), from “A Cry from an Indian Wife”.

Before the arrival of European explorers and traders, Indigenous Peoples were organized into complex, self-governing nations throughout what is now called North America. In its early days, the relationship between European traders and Indigenous Peoples was mutually beneficial. Indigenous Peoples were able to help traders adjust to the new land and could share their knowledge and expertise. In return, the traders offered useful materials and goods, such as horses, guns, metal knives, and kettles to the Indigenous Peoples. However, as time went by and more European settlers arrived, the relationship between the two peoples became much more challenging.

The myth of terra nullius

European map-makers drew unexplored landscapes as blank spaces. Instead of interpreting these blank spaces as areas yet to be mapped, they saw them as empty land waiting to be settled. When settlers arrived in North America, they regarded it as terra nullius, or “nobody’s land.” They simply ignored the fact that Indigenous Peoples had been living on these lands for thousands of years, with their own cultures and civilizations. For the settlers, the land was theirs to colonize. As time went on, more and more settlers took over the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples.

Changing names and rewriting history

The settlers began to give their own names and descriptions to the land they had “discovered.” For example, Vancouver and Vancouver Island are named after Captain George Vancouver, who was born in England in 1757, and not after a hereditary Chief of the territory, whose family had lived in the area since the beginning of time. The land, landmarks, bodies of water and mountain ranges already had names, given to them by Indigenous Peoples. Settlers did not learn these names and made their own names for landmarks, mountains, bodies of water and regions instead. This was one of the ways in history was rewritten to excluded Indigenous Peoples contributions and presence.

Competing priorities and worldviews

Initially, the relationship was mutually beneficial for settlers and Indigenous Peoples, but this relationship did not last. Each group had their competing priorities based on fundamentally different values such as:

  • the role and place of women
  • ownership and use of land
  • who should govern and run the society
  • education and child-rearing

Colonizers used their numbers, laws, policies, and powers to gain control of Indigenous Peoples, thus leading Indigenous Peoples to be dependent on colonizers.

The colonizers’ worldview

The British and French were fighting for control of North America, which they viewed as a rich source of raw materials. In their worldview, the natural environment was a resource that could be exploited for individual gain. Individuals and companies could become very wealthy by controlling the resources of this “New World.” The colonizer worldview valued competition, individualism and male-superiority.

The Indigenous worldview

In contrast, Indigenous Peoples value the group or the collective more than the individual. Each person has their role, and each contributed to the success of the group. Extended families were large and included aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on.

Indigenous Peoples viewed women as being equal to men. Women were supported, honoured, and respected for their role as the givers of life.

In the Indigenous worldview, everything has a spirit and deserves to be respected. The natural world was not simply a resource to control or conquer.

Justifying colonization

The colonizers thought they were superior to all those of non-European descent, and some did not consider Indigenous Peoples to be “people” at all. They did not consider Indigenous laws, governments, medicines, cultures, beliefs, or relationships to be legitimate. They believed that they had the right and moral obligation to make decisions affecting everybody, without consultation with Indigenous Peoples. These beliefs and prejudices were used to justify the acts and laws that came into being as part of the process of colonization.

The impact of disease

When the Europeans arrived, they brought smallpox and other diseases that were previously unknown in North America. The Indigenous population had no immunity because, unlike the Europeans, they did not have centuries of exposure to these diseases. It has been estimated that as many as 90%–95% of the Indigenous population died from these introduced diseases.

Fig 2.2: A medicine man caring for an ill person.

A punishment from God?

These deadly epidemics happened before either the settlers or Indigenous Peoples properly understood the causes of disease. Christian missionaries told Indigenous people that one of the reasons for their sickness was the fact that they did not believe in the Christian God and did not attend church. Indigenous people saw that the settlers were not as badly affected by disease, and many were persuaded to abandon their traditional beliefs and convert to Christianity.

Media Attributions

The Tools of Colonization

In the rest of Section 2, we will look at the ways in which the Europeans colonized the country. The process of colonization and gaining control over the land, now called Canada, was a multifaceted action. We will consider four tools of colonization:

  • Treaties
  • Laws and acts of Parliament
  • The reserve system
  • Residential schools

One of the tools was the creation and signing of treaties, which the settlers viewed as a process that transferred title and control of First Nations’ land to non-Indigenous people and governments. These treaties were obtained through unequal negotiations and the purpose, meaning, and long term significance of the signed treaties were understood differently by each signatory body. The British government, and then the Canadian government (after 1867), viewed the treaties as the completion of the transfer and control of land title to the “Crown.” First Nations viewed themselves as equal partners (a Nation) when they signed the treaties, and as such they would still have access to their way of life and their traditional territories for their people, much like two governments working in parallel.

Treaties: Who gains?

In theory, both parties to a treaty should gain something by signing, and each party also has obligations to the other. However, this was not the case for First Nations.

Fig 2.3: James Bay Treaty (Treaty 9)

First Nations Peoples entered into these treaties in good faith. They saw them as an alternative to conflict and a way to forge a better relationship. Besides, no one can really “own the land”, so they assumed the land would still be available for their use.

The actual negotiations of the treaties were fraught with trickery, as many First Nations were not fully informed of the real content and meaning of the treaties. They were written in English, which they often could not read, and oral translations were not always accurate. First Nation leaders often had no real way of verifying what they were signing and assumed that the oral agreement surrounding the paper treaty was just as important. An oral agreement is honoured and is often witnessed by others present. These witnesses key task is to then remember and share what they heard in the agreement between parties.

Media Attributions

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BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education: Brenda Smith

The 19th recipient of the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education is a hardworking librarian and staunch OER advocate. Whether she is sitting on an advisory group, assisting with OER development, or presenting at a conference, Brenda Smith lives and breathes open education.

Nominated by Melanie Meyers, project manager, BCcampus; Krista Lambert, project manager, BCcampus; and Dr. Michelle Harrison, senior instructional designer, co-chair Learning, Design and Innovations, TRU Open Learning

Brenda Smith

Brenda is the open education librarian at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). She is an OER champion — quite literally, as she was the recipient of TRU’s Open Learning Champion Award in 2016. As the chair of the TRU OE group, she helped to establish the OE sustainability grants and fosters open activities at the university by supporting faculty and students during OER development, advocating for OER across faculties, and supporting collaboration between interdisciplinary and cross-departmental groups. She has developed multiple OER library resources, helped organize and facilitate OER sprints, and continues to help infuse open process into university-wide operations.

Brenda has been a member of the BC Open Ed Librarians group since 2015, chaired it from 2018–2019, and is a member of the business program Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) advisory group with BCcampus. Most recently, she presented at OpenEd 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona, in a joint presentation with two librarians from the U.S. called Not Without My Librarian: Developing OER Advocacy and Community.

Not only was Brenda the recipient of the TRU Distinguished Service Award for faculty in 2019, she also received the Award of Excellence for Student Advocacy from the TRU Students Union in 2018 for demonstrating excellence in supporting students in pursuing their educational and professional aspirations. It’s clear that Brenda is passionate and committed to open education at TRU and in the province.

Notable quote:

“Brenda tirelessly advocates for open educational practices at TRU and beyond. She has been instrumental in efforts to build a sustained open education community at the university by helping to establish faculty OER grants and supporting faculty, students, and staff in a variety of OER development and operational projects. Brenda is a valued colleague, generous with her time and support, and TRU is lucky to have such a strong voice supporting our open initiatives.” —Dr. Michelle Harrison, TRU Open Learning

Learn more: 

Previous honoureesJennifer Kirkey, Rajiv JhangianiCindy UnderhillMichael PaskeviciusMaja KrzicGrant PotterIrwin DeVriesTara RobertsonChristina HendricksTannis MorganInba KehoeDiane PurveyErin Fields, Arley CruthersChad Flinn, Aran ArmutluTerry BergWill Engle, and Florence Daddey

BCcampus Open Education Working Group Guide: Informal or Formal?

An excerpt from the Working Group Guide, by Krista Lambert and Lucas Wright

Informal or formal working groups

There will be different working-group models for different institutions. When deciding what would work best for your institutional context, you may want to consider the following things:

  • Should this be a grassroots movement?
  • Will this be top-down supported?
  • Is open a strategically recognized path at your institution?
  • Are there already people working on open education initiatives or with open practices who would be logical parts of an informal working group?
  • Are there administrative requirements or rules that you will have to comply with in formulating your working group?

As open working groups emerge in various institutional contexts, questions about their structure and formality invariably arise. Should the group have a formal structure? Should the group function in an ad-hoc manner, similar to a community of practice (CoP)? Obviously, one model does not fit all institutions. Let’s explore both models.

Informal working groups

Characteristics: CoP model, builds grassroots support across campus units, membership is flexible and inclusive.

Informal groups tend to grow organically through grassroots movements based on shared beliefs and practices. These types of groups tend to continuously evolve and show high levels of dynamism and are responsive to the needs of the group. Similar to the evolution of CoPs, these types of groups tend to easily build trust among their membership. Group leadership emerges through the work of the group and may not necessarily be identified with a core group of representatives. The membership works collaboratively and cooperatively on tasks to further the interests of the group. Typically, high levels of motivation are the norm in these types of groups.

Due to the informality of the group, there are some disadvantages. A grassroots movement requires dedicated individuals to ensure the work of the group succeeds. It requires the commitment of individuals to set up meetings and events.

Formal working groups

Characteristics: Task and goal oriented, membership includes core representatives with defined roles and responsibilities.

Formal working groups tend to self organise around a clear structure and well-defined goals. For example, at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), the Library and the Learning and Teaching Centre established the need for an open working group as the institution began to explore the use of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP). Following a brief assessment of who was engaged in open practices at BCIT, a formal working group was created. Group membership included anyone who was interested and involved in varying levels of open education, which meant the group was fairly large at approximately twenty members. Due to the size and composition of the group, it was decided that the group should have a formal structure to ensure regular meetings and a clear definition of purpose. Based on this example, a formal open working group may include the following elements:

  • A chair who calls the meetings and sets the meeting agenda. The role of the chair is mostly to work with the group to set direction and work with the leadership team at the institution.
  • A vice-chair and/or co-chair who fills in for the chair when needed and supports the work of the group.
  • A secretary who keeps minutes and assists with the administration details of the work of the group.
  • Terms of reference to guide the work of the group.
  • A strategic action plan.

Formal groups tend to be task and goal oriented. The group sets their own goals and defines the tasks to accomplish over a determined period of time. Typically, formal groups develop Terms of Reference (ToR) to guide their work. The ToR can be developed collaboratively by the membership or by the core representatives to be sanctioned by the membership. In the case of BCIT, the core representatives developed ToR that were later discussed with the membership and approved.

Formal group structures have a number of advantages:

  • They facilitate consistency and continuity in the work of the group.
  • There is leadership accountability.
  • There is financial accountability, which is important when working groups are responsible for institutionally granted budgets.
  • They tend to be more stable.
  • The establish roles provide a framework for succession. (Typically, the vice-chair or co-chair will assume the chair position as the chair retires from their duties.)

Formal group structures also pose challenges:

  • The formal structure may get in the way of the creativity and flexibility needed to get things done.
  • Formal structures make it difficult to be responsive to the needs of the group.
  • An individual (or a small group of individuals) may dominate the agenda for the group.
  • If volunteers do not step up to serve in the core representative group, it may jeopardize its sustainability.

In Practice

KPU: A changing role for the working group

In the case of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), what started as an informal open working group shifted to a more formalized one. Initially, a group of interested people gathered regularly to discuss open initiatives in general and to coordinate on-campus events. Over time, the purpose of the group and positions within that group began to shift in nature. BCcampus OER grants were distributed from that body, a formal position emerged within the university structure, and “open” became recognized at an institutional level within the academic plan. Soon, an “Open KPU” office also formed, and it became clear that the group had moved beyond casual conversation! Now the group is working on its own strategic plan, is continuing to administer grants, and acts as a sounding board and support for the Open KPU office.

BCIT: Formal at the top

In the case of BCIT, the open working group has a formal structure “at the top”: a chair, a co-chair, and a secretary. While the structure is formal, the group membership remains fairly informal, and anyone who is involved in open can join in. In fact, anybody who is working on an OER grant is added to the group as a member by default. Monthly meeting invitations are sent to the entire membership, and on average the meetings are attended by approximately ten people consistently. The steady presence of the chair, co-chair, and secretary keeps the group acting within its defined scope. The influx of new people at meetings brings about new perspectives and new ideas. So far, this model has worked for BCIT.

UBC: Informal by design

At UBC, the open working group initially started as a way to support individual open projects. In particular, the group came together to develop and instruct an online course on “Teaching in WordPress.” As this process continued, the participants began to develop more and more trust and collaborate more effectively, and the group began to work on more projects, including the website. This has branched into working together to support and advocate for open education in general. Although there are regular attendees in the group, the group has decided to focus less on formalizing itself and more on working together to complete projects. This means that the group does not use a terms of reference nor does it create sub-committees. This is instead done ad-hoc with different people joining and leaving depending on their goals and involvement in open education.

SFU: Start up

At Simon Fraser University (SFU), a new open working group has recently been formed by representatives of the Library, Teaching & Learning Centre, and Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) to develop awareness and build capacity for OER adoptions by sharing information and coordinating efforts among key campus stakeholders who lead and support open education initiatives on campus. Although this group is currently fairly informal, they opted to draft a brief Terms of Reference document to articulate their general purpose and goals, as well as to establish shared expectations around meeting schedules and group communications.

Emily Carr

Currently, there is not an established open working group at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD). Initial discussions have begun between the Teaching + Learning Centre and the University Library to establish an open working group. The Library has created an Open Educational Resource section in the ECU Library Catalogue and has set up Library Guides to support and reference topic-specific areas. The Teaching + Learning Centre has purchased several printed versions of open textbooks from the B.C. Open Textbook Collection and added them to the ECUAD Teaching and Learning Library Series for books on pedagogy, teaching, and learning.


Capilano University’s (CapU) open working group spun out from their Senate Instructional Technologies Advisory Committee and reports to it. It started fairly informally—without a terms of reference or an agreed-on strategy—with the primary goal of bringing together people interested in advocating for OER at the university. It includes members from the Library, the Centre for Teaching Excellence, faculty, the student union, and the administration.

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Indigenization Guide: Acknowledging Traditional Territories

Ninety-five percent of British Columbia, including Vancouver, is on unceded traditional First Nations territory. Unceded means that First Nations people never ceded or legally signed away their lands to the Crown or to Canada. A traditional territory is the geographic area identified by a First Nation as the land they and/or their ancestors traditionally occupied and used.

Before beginning an event, meeting, or conference, it is proper protocol to acknowledge the host nation, its people and its land. You may hear someone begin an event by saying something like this:“Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting today on the traditional territories of the ________________ people (or Nation). We thank them for allowing us to meet and learn together on their territory.”

Here is a map of the First Nation traditional territories in British Columbia:

Map showing First Nations Territories in B.C.
Fig 1.6: First Nation territories across British Columbia.

Media Attributions

  • Fig 1.6: Map showing First Nations territories in B.C. by the British Columbia Ministry of Education. It is not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of the British Columbia Ministry of Education.

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An Education in Electronic Health Records

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are an important part of patient care in the modern era, but until recently, there hasn’t been enough educational focus on EHRs beyond vendor-specific training. This BCcampus pilot project set out to change that.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

In 2018, we announced a pilot project that we were working on with a group of engaged educators from institutions across the province. The focus of the pilot project was to help post-secondary students across a wide variety of health care disciplines—including nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, midwifery, speech and audiology, genetic counselling, pharmacy, and traditional medicine—gain valuable experience through an Educational Electronic Health Records (EdEHR) platform. We’re now in the process of completing this project, and working towards handing the product over to an organization, consortium, or institution that can take it to the next level, possibly with commercial applications.

Who benefits?

“Students need to be encouraged to think in a different way about electronic documentation,” shared Dr. Joseph Anthony, interim associate dean of health professions in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. “If we’re not training students to think about EHRs, we’re doing them a disservice. When they enter a clinical placement or the workforce, they’ll be expected to know how to use these tools. With BCcampus’ generous support and professional management, we were able to get this project to the point it is now.”

“By providing students with the ability to learn how to use EHRs in the classroom setting, they will ultimately be able to spend more time with their patients in the clinical setting,” said Glynda Rees, faculty in the Bachelor of Science program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. “Students need to learn how to work with anything that’s technologically foreign to them. The first few times students work with an automatic blood pressure cuff or IV pump, they spend more time focused on the technology instead of the patient, but as they use it more, it becomes easier for them to interact with their patients at the same time. The EdEHR project helps them understand the implications and impact of EHRs before they’re in contact with patients.”

“Providing students with an accurate and effective sandbox gives them exposure to the technology before they go into the real world, and this is a vitally important project for today’s health care practices,” said Jason Min, lecturer, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia. “It will be great to see this become a meaningful implementation in a variety of different programs for the institutions throughout the province, and with necessary iterative improvements, this has amazing pedagogical potential across all health programs.”

Current status

“We were very successful in terms of building this project—working with the steering committee, discovering their needs, and delivering on the requirements—but our group is made up of educators, not software developers,” said David Shaykewich, manager of DevOps at BCcampus. “This project is now ready for an organization or institution to take it forward, and there are multiple business models that might work well for them.”

At this time, the EdEHR platform is at the pilot-ready, prototype stage. We have done some testing and made many iterations to bring the project to its current status, and the software development is substantially complete. BCcampus will fund additional in-class pilots next spring and summer, but we will not be operating the system as a service. There is a significant opportunity available for a group or organization to take over this project to launch it as a Software as a service (SaaS) model. It will be relatively quick and simple to make it available to B.C. post-secondary classrooms, and with the SaaS model, the overhead to run the software is minimal. The code and support documentation is available in a repository on GitHub. We built this on an open licence model so that it would be free and easy to adopt, but it will require strategy and an investment to ensure student privacy and security are protected at all times.     

Notable quote:

“The environmental scan we did last year showed that there is a clear lack of EHR training options for health care students. This is a national and international issue, and this pilot project is addressing that learning gap.” —Jason Min, lecturer, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC

“Educators have been looking for a project like this for over a decade, so it was a big success for BCcampus to get involved and help build this learning tool, working with the steering committee to bring it to a state where it has broader potential for considerable growth.” —David Shaykewich, Manager, DevOps at BCcampus

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