Open Education Week at TRU

Some members of the OE Working Group have been working with TRUSU to organize a series of events at TRU for Open Education Week (March 2-6, 2020). Check out the various workshops and keynotes which will be taking place on the Kamloops campus at: https://trusu.ca/events/open-education-week-at-tru/.

For those in Williams Lake, Brenda Smith (Open Education Librarian) will be doing a workshop called “Open Educational Resources Workshop: Finding, Adopting, and Adapting OER” on Monday, March 2, 3pm-5pm and again on Tuesday, March 3, 10am-12pm in room 1271.

Identifying Evidence-Based Strategies Used in Teaching and Learning

We recently caught up with Andrea Sator and Heather Williams to learn more about a research project they’re conducting — funded by a BCcampus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) grant — to explore evidence-based strategies to remove barriers to online learning. 

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Last spring, we published a research call for proposals to develop a thought-leadership resource, seeking evidence-based strategies for designing and delivering professional development and open educational resources (OER) for educators in online learning. The goal of the research is to improve learning conditions for a diverse spectrum of students. Andrea Sator and Heather Williams created a comprehensive response, outlining the project they felt was needed for educators and learners in B.C.

What prompted you to apply for a BCcampus DEI grant?

Heather: This opportunity was brought to my attention through my relationship with one of the people at BCcampus. She learned about some of the work I’d been doing in equity, inclusion, and interculturalism. I reached out to Andrea, because she has expertise in online learning and doing work provincially, and we saw that the call for proposals aligned well with our combined areas of expertise.

Andrea: We were interested in how the work would inform the larger field because it’s an area that is increasingly becoming important and is on everyone’s mind — it was such a unique opportunity to get in the field to conduct our own investigations about the specific inquiries that are informed by the scholarship and interested us. We felt we had a lot to offer in the way of shaping this research: asking the questions in an open-ended way to get at what we thought is important for practitioners and scholars to know.

How do you see students and/or faculty benefiting from this project?

Andrea: The unique contribution that this piece makes is that it achieves a triangulation of what’s happening in the scholarship; exploring what’s taking place in the public post-secondary institutions (11 institutions have agreed to participate in the study); and what today’s students are saying. A cross-comparison of three different areas provides a unique perspective that we think can shape this field in an original way. 

Typically, researchers start with a literature review but don’t often make the comparison between how that resonates with what practitioners say about the daily work and their current challenges, concerns, approaches, and experiences, and what students are saying about those very same questions.

Heather: We hope the benefits are many. One is that educators are aware of diverse learners and their needs; they are aware of the limitations in online course design and/or delivery when it comes to the ability to engage all learners. However, what we heard was a wish — through a project such as this — for there to be more potential collaboration between institutions, which could enable more people to employ best practices in building and delivering online courses and programs. In turn, this kind of collaboration will potentially benefit students who struggle with online platforms as a means of education, as the courses will be built with diverse students in mind.

What is one of the notable benefits you’ve found through this project?

Andrea: We were amazed by the way people accepted and participated in the research, specifically the faculty and staff in the post-secondary institutions. They were consistently welcoming and inviting in every instance, whether we met them on campus or online. It was completely volunteer, and they could withdraw their participation at any time, but never did. They wanted to know the results, make the connections, and have their voices heard, as well as know what they could do to support the work going forward.

It was also notable to hear how much they appreciate BCcampus, and how important BCcampus is as a resource for this province.

Heather: For many of the people we interviewed, being asked to participate and being listened to as experts was a form of validation for the hard work that goes into building thoughtfully designed and instructed online courses. There was a high level of excitement about the opportunity to share their practices and the ways in which they face their challenges.

The other piece — when we brought different stakeholders from the same institution together, they saw the opportunity to break down the silos within their own institution and work better together.

Andrea: The cross-collaboration generated within the institutions was a notable impact of this work. Also, for us as researchers, having the bird’s-eye view — the environmental scan of what’s happening in different institutions — enabled us to see the good practices being implemented. Comparing this to what’s happening in the literature, it was really nice to take a step back and help make connections to say, “Yes, people are doing these types of things.”

It was nice to see that some groups were focused on specific areas rather than other topics, and that differed from what the literature was saying, so having the environmental scan/bird’s-eye view was valuable. More about this will come out in the research.

There were four main phases: the literature review; interviewing the post-secondary institutions and transcribing, coding, and understanding the data; meeting the ethical requirements of having students respond to a survey; and pulling it all together in a thought-leadership piece.

We needed parts one through three completed to inform the fourth, but here’s the sticky part with the ethics: we’re working as independent research consultants; we’re not affiliated with any institutions and don’t actually fit into any of the tri-council receiving areas, so we didn’t need ethical approval from our own institutions because we weren’t doing this work on their behalf. Our thoughts were that our milling groups would share these surveys so we could collect the student data, but what we’ve found is we do need ethical approval from each institution. Working with each of the 11 institutions, we’ve discovered that each has a different level of ethical approval — some are quick, some are simple, some are very detailed.

We think this is an enormous learning opportunity for BCcampus, for other research consultants, and for ourselves on how to engage with this process. I think that’s going to be a big bonus, with substantial scholarly impact on how to approach ethics.

We even sought out the possibility of getting a private ethical review, but most institutions don’t accept private reviews. There seems to be some discord in the field around how to approach ethics, and each institution has different parameters. It’s quite exciting to document this.

What were you surprised to learn?

Andrea: There’s an opportunity to seek clarity in advance — these ethical officers are so busy — and they have the spirit and enthusiasm to engage with external contractors. It’s just so amazing and positive that they’re willing to have that conversation because we’re completely outside of their institutions.

Heather: When we talk about removing barriers for equity-seeking groups, it’s important to keep in mind that all of the institutions we’ve spoken with are doing their best with the often-limited resources and tools that are out there. We heard how people are grappling with the need to change, and how that is challenging within the system of education, but by and large, educators are putting diverse students in the centre. Participants are aware that different learners need different strategies, and this informs their approaches to teaching and designing online learning.

What is next for you on this project?

Andrea: Getting the student survey out — it’s such a big and exciting piece to hear from the students —and ensuring we have diversity in different areas. The ethics piece is holding us up a bit — it’s hard to complete the leadership piece without the three comparators – the first three phases – available to us.

Heather: Andrea is already brainstorming different ways for us to be as proactive as we can to ensure we get as many respondents as possible.

Andrea: There’s a possibility of support to reach students in remote and rural communities, but we initially want to honour the students in the post-secondary institutions where we were privileged to interview the faculty and staff. 

At BCcampus, we’re looking forward to sharing the research results once Andrea and Heather have completed this project.

Notable quote:

“B.C. is very progressive and very aware, and there’s a lot of amazing work out there. We feel very privileged to be invited into these institutions. We’re also fortunate that there is a BCcampus, and that there is this type of work. As well, the community appreciates the resources and opportunities that BCcampus has to share. There’s a lot of gratitude on our end, as well as from the folks in the field for everything that BCcampus provides.”

Andrea Sator

Learn more

BCcampus Excellence in Open Education Award: Lindsay Tripp

The newest recipient of the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education is Lindsay Tripp, Copyright Librarian, Langara College. Lindsay is the chair-elect of the BC Open Education Librarians and the co-chair of Open Langara. She has been a tireless advocate for open education at Langara and essential in establishing Langara’s open textbook adoption tracking procedures.

Nominated by Lauri Aesoph, Manager, Open Education, BCcampus

Lindsay served as planning team lead for BCOEL’s 2019 Open Access Week event, Can we decolonize open? In addition to her open education work, she serves as the library’s liaison to the Aboriginal Studies and Indigenous Education and Services departments. In her spare moments, she has been learning about what it means to be an authentic ally in reconciliation. For this reason, the event was close to her heart and one she’s particularly proud of.

In recent months, she has focused time and energy on refining Langara’s open textbook adoption tracking processes. Lindsay has been instrumental in running the ongoing adoption program for Langara and sharing this data with BCcampus OpenEd in order to keep the provincial numbers current. Over the summer of 2019, Lindsay began visualizing Langara’s open textbook stats in Tableau and embedded the visualization into the college’s new Open Education website homepage. Lindsay thinks that visualizing their open textbook stats has really helped Langara to communicate the impact of open education at their institution.

Under Lindsay’s direction, the Langara Open Education Working Group instituted an open textbook review program that doubled BCcampus’ $250 honorarium for reviewers. This program solicited over 20 open textbook reviews from Langara instructors in the past year.

Currently, Lindsay and her colleague Julian Prior are in the midst of writing up the results of qualitative research they conducted regarding the impact of open textbooks on international students’ academic success.

Notable quotes

“In the past few years, as co-chair for Open Langara, Lindsay has used her drive and dedication not only to spur a rise in adoptions, but also to support faculty in their efforts to adapt and create open textbooks. She has advocated for resources to support faculty wanting to incorporate open ancillary materials and open pedagogy into their practice. Lindsay has been creative, energetic, and instrumental in leading activities encouraging and celebrating Langara’s Growing Open movement.”

Patricia Cia, MLS, FSLA, Director of Academic Innovation, Library & Learning Commons, Langara College

“I have had the privilege of working with Lindsay since 2016 when we first kicked around the idea of creating a working group advocating for open education at Langara. Four years and many meetings (and coffees!) later, Langara now has an established Open Education Advisory Committee and is the heaviest user of open textbooks amongst post-secondary educational institutions in B.C. Even though I’m sure she would deny it, this impressive achievement is mainly due to Lindsay’s tireless work advocating for open in so many different ways at the college, and is all the more remarkable when you think that most of this work has been done off of the side of Lindsay’s desk (her main role is copyright librarian). This is testimony to Lindsay’s passion and commitment towards equality, justice, and accessibility in education, values which are so important to our work in the open space. The icing on the cake for me is that Lindsay happens to also be just a fantastic person to work with. I am absolutely delighted that she has been given this important award, as it is fully deserved.”

Julian Prior, Chair of Educational Technology, Langara College

Learn more:

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

Festival of Learning 2020 – Accessible & Inclusive

We’re only a few months away from the 2020 Festival of Learning, the largest conference about learning and teaching in higher education in B.C. This year, we are exploring the theme of disruption and transformation, and to ensure the event is accessible, we have partnered with the Disability Resource Network of B.C. (DRNBC).

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

At BCcampus, a primary focus has long been supporting B.C. post-secondary institutions in providing better experiences for students. A big part of that is ensuring learning is accessible through initiatives like our award-winning open textbook accessibility toolkit, supporting research efforts to improve accessibility, or hosting events with built-in inclusive activities.

Universal Access

Our goal for #FoL2020 is to make the event accessible and welcoming for presenters and participants of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, abilities, cultures, sexual orientations, genders, languages, ages, as well as those identifying as neurodivergent.

Disability Network of B.C. for Post-Secondary Education

Brianna Higgins, Department Head of Disability Services at Vancouver Community College (VCC); Deloris “Piper” Piper, Coordinator of the Post-Secondary Communication Access Services (PCAS) at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT); and Lucy Hawkins, BCIT Accessibility Services, are our partners at the DRNBC. They’ve been working with our event team to identify opportunities to improve accessibility with and for us, as well as assisting us with addressing specific needs identified by presenters and attendees.

“By implementing Universal Design practices into the model and delivery of #FoL2020, we can promote equal participation, access, and inclusion where possible,” said Brianna. “Where accommodation is still required, our group has collaborated with the BCcampus team to arrange individual services, such as transcription and ASL interpreting.”

“Accommodation is not just to ensure an individual can understand, participate, and access the content and people; it also provides the other participants access to that person,” shared Piper. “For example, an ASL interpreter ensures the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind can benefit from a presentation, but they also enable them to be understood and add their voice to the conversation, too. It’s a two-way street for accessibility to be fully realized.”

“Through this partnership with BCcampus, we’re being an active voice in the conversation and taking a practical role in the systemwide change of building a more inclusive structure for students,” explained Lucy. “We’re developing resources to help the presenters at #FoL2020, providing input to guide the coordinators, and building a strategy to help us continue to improve in future events.”

Accessibility and Inclusion in Action

Some things you can expect at #FoL2020 include:

  • Live captioning of keynotes
  • Pronouns integrated into nametags
  • Accessible and universal washrooms
  • Free Childcare
  • Funding for educators through the Learning Access Program for Educators (LAP-E)
  • Dedicated quiet room for all participants to take time out of the busy conference environment with sensory bags that include items like a weighted blanket, noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and colouring books
  • “Ready room” for presenters to gather their thoughts and prepare for their sessions

“We will be documenting the entire event to track what was done, what obstacles we faced, and how we can overcome or prevent them in future events and activities,” shared Brianna. “We don’t expect any event to be perfect, but we can learn from what works, and analyze and overcome what didn’t.”

Another effort to support inclusion comes in the form of a  presenter toolkit, which provides practical tips and guidelines for all presenters at the Festival to design their session materials and activities with inclusion in mind, for example:

  • Design for accessibility — make sure slides, materials, and activities are created to ensure access (including screen readability), and consider using live automatic captioning if there are no other supports (e.g., live transcribers or interpreters) present
  • Share in advance — make slides and handouts available online a week or more prior to the event to allow participants to preview materials
  • Use inclusive language, and  consider offering trigger or content warnings
  • Pacing — consciously slow down, and don’t pack too much content into a single presentation
  • Describe the slide — say what’s on the slide to include people with low/no vision
  • Always use a microphone!

Meet the DRNBC

There will be opportunities to learn more about the DRNBC, such as meeting the members, joining one of the DRNBC Committees, or participating in their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at #FoL2020.

“Each year, we recognize the outstanding contributions of educators and service providers in our field and employers that support our students,” shared Brianna. “To nominate someone, please check the links on our website or connect with Rita Dilek at VCC.”

Registration for #FoL2020 is now open — so be sure to grab your tickets today.

Notable quote:

“This will be an epic event where we can work and learn together, thinking of all aspects of universal accessibility in truly significant ways. Through this substantial collaboration, we can make this possible.”

Deloris “Piper” Piper, Coordinator, Post-Secondary Communication Access Services, BCIT

“We’re aiming to develop a standard for equity inclusion, embracing and delivering accessibility for all.”

Brianna Higgins, Department Head, Disability Services, Vancouver Community College

Learn more

Finding the gems that already exist: The Improved Searchability Project

Post by Selina McGinnis, Lead UX/IA, BCcampus

BCcampus has been tasked to improve the searchability of open textbooks on the BCcampus website.  This work is part of the open education funding announced by Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, in April 2019. The development team has gone one step further and reframed the mission to look at reducing many barriers that stand in the way of matching an instructor with the right open textbook for their course where one exists. Whereas the project was initially scoped to fix issues related to the search box and the subsequent results page, the project team saw other equally important opportunities to improve the ability to find relevant textbooks in the collection before (and after) users even type anything into the search box. That is, finding textbooks is more than just searching for them: it’s also about how users hear about the book and have the knowledge or tools to find one that is suitable. That is, finding textbooks, is more than just searching for them. It’s about how users hear about the book and have the knowledge or tools to find one that is suitable. 

There are barriers that exist even before we try searching. 
Even after a book has been found, how can we make it easier to determine if it’s the right book for a course and make it clear what the rules and freedoms are around how it can be used?. Can it be printed? Shared? Remixed with other content?

What has been done already? 

  • What are the barriers? Predating the start of this project, research (see ‘research used’ at the end) has strongly suggested that the main barriers to adopting open textbooks are low discoverability of textbooks and low understanding of the licensing. 
  • Interviews conducted with users — including instructors, teaching support staff, librarians, bookstore staff, and students — support previous research findings. Furthermore, hearing their stories provided further insight as to why these barriers exist and in what context they are experiencing these challenges. 
  •  Observations of people using the website and interpreting the language give us insights as to how we can reduce or remove some of the barriers. For example, in an interview, a user may say that the book they wanted didn’t exist (so we would cite the issue as material availability), but in an observation, we might find that the search feature doesn’t function well enough to surface the book that is in the collection (making the issue more related to search relevancy or sort/filter functions). A combination of research, interviews, and observation are being used to create a well-rounded picture of how we can improve the experience. 
  • The main opportunities for improvement so far revolve around improving the search function to surface more relevant results, improving the language so it reflects what users expect to see (e.g., the term “ancillary resources” is often not recognized by new users), and reducing the effort required to judge a book for quality and relevancy. 

What is being worked on 

  • Gathering more information: We’re interviewing and observing instructors, students, and support staff to find out what other issues haven’t been uncovered. 
  • We have a thorough list of ways to improve the experience so far. Which high-value improvements can we deliver the quickest? 
  •  We think we’ve come up with some bright ideas. Before we deploy them to the site, we’ll test with our users to make sure they work as expected. 
  •  Nothing is magic. Some of the critical changes to the way searching will work will require a shift in the technological back end. Our development team is hearing user requirements to decide what the best setup is 
  •  The development team is on the lookout for technology that will support our ideas in innovative ways. 

How can you help? 

We need instructors, students, and support staff to help us test our ideas and tell us about their experiences choosing textbooks (both open and traditionally published books, good and bad experiences). 

If you or someone you know might be willing to spend an hour helping, please email smcginnis@bccampus.ca and let Selina know you are keen to help (there’s a free coffee in it for you!). 

Research used 

Barker J., Jeffery, K., Jhangiani, R.S., Veletsianos, G. (2018). Eight patterns of open textbook adoption in British Columbia. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning19(3). http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/3723/4641 

Hendricks, C., Reinsberg, S.A., Rieger, G.W. (2017). The adoption of an open textbook in a large physics course: An analysis of cost, outcomes, use and perceptions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i4.3006 

Jhangiani, R. S., & Jhangiani, S. (2017). Investigating the perceptions, use, and impact of open textbooks: A survey of post-secondary students in British Columbia. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i4.3012 

Jhangiani, R. S., Pitt, R., Hendricks, C., Key, J., & Lalonde, C. (2016). Exploring the use of open educational resources at BC post-secondary institutions. Victoria, BC: BCcampus. https://opentextbc.ca/openedinfo/wp-content/uploads/sites/214/2018/10/BCFacultyUseOfOER-final.pdf 

Earle, S. (2019). What students like (and dislike) about open educational resources. BCcampus. https://bccampus.ca/2019/03/12/what-students-like-and-dislike-about-open-educational-resources/#_ftnref1 

​Jhangiani, R. S., Dastur, F. N., LeGrand, R., & Penner, K. (2018). As good or better than commercial textbooks: Students’ perceptions and outcomes from using open digital and open print textbooks. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2018.1.5 

Meet FLO Facilitator: Donna DesBiens

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?

When I was doing freelance learning design in 2015, I joined a BCcampus FLO – Fundamentals course to keep my facilitation skills in tune and also connect with a community of practice. I had such good learning and networking experiences that I have also participated in the FLO Facilitator Development Online, FLO – Synchronous, and FLO – Design pilot courses, and a couple of FLO MicroCourses since then. Great learning and networking experiences continue!

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

As I reflect on my journey in adult education, learning design, facilitation, and writing, I feel so privileged to do work that I love and to collaborate with such creative and caring colleagues. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. 

I got my start in online learning when designing and facilitating courses on collaborative team learning and diversity in adult learning for the University of Calgary in the early 2000s. I also worked as a learning designer with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Thompson Rivers University, and independently before joining the CTET team at Royal Roads University (RRU) in 2016. One of my favourite consultancy projects in 2015 led to an article on culturally responsive online design (“Culturally responsive online design: learning at intercultural intersections,” Intercultural Education, Vol 27, Issue 5, 2016).

At RRU, in addition to designing and facilitating an online course on intercultural foundations for education and providing learning design services to the School of Leadership Studies and the International Study Centre, I have co-facilitated several sessions of FLO for RRU faculty and external professionals from across Canada. It was also my pleasure to collaborate with Dianne Biin in the spring of 2019 in creating and co-facilitating a FLO MicroCourse on acknowledging traditional Indigenous lands.

I look forward to meeting you in FLO!

How can people contact you?

They can email me at donna.desbiens@royalroads.ca

 Learn more:

Meet FLO Facilitator: Donna DesBiens

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?

When I was doing freelance learning design in 2015, I joined a BCcampus FLO – Fundamentals course to keep my facilitation skills in tune and also connect with a community of practice. I had such good learning and networking experiences that I have also participated in the FLO Facilitator Development Online, FLO – Synchronous, and FLO – Design pilot courses, and a couple of FLO MicroCourses since then. Great learning and networking experiences continue!

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

As I reflect on my journey in adult education, learning design, facilitation, and writing, I feel so privileged to do work that I love and to collaborate with such creative and caring colleagues. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. 

I got my start in online learning when designing and facilitating courses on collaborative team learning and diversity in adult learning for the University of Calgary in the early 2000s. I also worked as a learning designer with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Thompson Rivers University, and independently before joining the CTET team at Royal Roads University (RRU) in 2016. One of my favourite consultancy projects in 2015 led to an article on culturally responsive online design (“Culturally responsive online design: learning at intercultural intersections,” Intercultural Education, Vol 27, Issue 5, 2016).

At RRU, in addition to designing and facilitating an online course on intercultural foundations for education and providing learning design services to the School of Leadership Studies and the International Study Centre, I have co-facilitated several sessions of FLO for RRU faculty and external professionals from across Canada. It was also my pleasure to collaborate with Dianne Biin in the spring of 2019 in creating and co-facilitating a FLO MicroCourse on acknowledging traditional Indigenous lands.

I look forward to meeting you in FLO!

How can people contact you?

They can email me at donna.desbiens@royalroads.ca

 Learn more:

Homework Activities: A logical extension of forall x using Carnap

UBC Instructor David Gilbert is currently working on a BCcampus-funded project to add interactive activities to the popular open logic textbook forall x using an open Haskell framework called Carnap. Developed by Professor Graham Leach-Krouse at Kansas State, Carnap is an open framework that facilitates automated verification of formal proofs and allows instructors to build interactive web browser-based activities that support teaching and studying formal logic.

Post by David Gilbert, Philosophy Instructor, UBC, and Clint Lalonde, Project Manager Open Homework Systems, BCcampus

Once completed, the online resource will be used in UBC’s Philosophy 220 course — the largest core course in the Department of Philosophy at UBC — and will be made available as an open resource to be used by other logic instructors around the world.

The primary objective of the project is to create a free, online, and interactive symbolic logic text with an accompanying homework system that supports automated marking. Doing so will drastically reduce the money students need to spend learning logic, make the independent study of logic much easier, and allow universities and colleges to redistribute resources (like TA hours) so as to focus on pedagogically fruitful tasks.

In every logic course, a choice has to be made concerning what proof system will be introduced. Semantic tree systems are ideal for lower-level formal logic courses. They make explaining various fundamental, metatheoretical concepts much easier, and they shift the focus from syntactic manipulations to higher-level considerations. This allows students to focus more on fundamental concepts and also eases the transition between the study of introductory logic and more advanced topics in logic.

Recently, Professor Jonathan Ichikawa released the UBC version of forall x, an open textbook that makes use of logic trees (forall x was initially written by P.D. Magnus, a philosopher at SUNY Albany). However, while proof construction assistants/checkers have been created for other types of proof systems, there is a dearth of such systems for trees. This severely limits the reach of the UBC forall x text and hinders its use for independent study.

This project hopes to eliminate this gap by developing an in-browser widget for the construction of trees. Such an application will facilitate an online, interactive version of forall x. In addition, a homework system that builds on Carnap and automatically evaluates student-constructed tree proofs will be created. Such a system can be used for formal evaluations as well as individual practice.

The initial development phase of the in-browser tree-construction widget is already underway, and a beta version is available. It is hoped that a fully integrated online version of the UBC forall x book will be available to anybody who wants it by summer 2020.

Learn more:

BCcampus Open Education Working Group Guide: Goals and Purposes

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

Note: This guide is intended to be hands-on with practical strategies for running an effective open working group. You may be a new group that is starting out and looking for ideas, or you may be a well-established group that is looking for information on how to broaden your scope or measure the impact of open at your institution.

Set goals and determine purpose

Once members have been recruited, the next step is to determine and articulate a shared purpose for the new working group. A more informal open working group might build consensus around common goals via brainstorming and discussion. In comparison, a more formal open working group might be assigned (or tasked with developing) a terms-of-reference document outlining key goals.

Articulating shared goals from the start helps to establish a framework for planning future working group activities and initiatives. These are also important for evaluating and communicating the impact of the group’s work to campus administration in future.

Establish meeting schedules and group communications

In order for a new open working group to run smoothly, establishing logistics and ground rules for meetings and internal group communications is also a recommended strategy. You may wish to consider:

  • How often the group will meet,
  • How agendas will be set, meetings run, and notes captured and shared,
  • How group members will generally communicate internally, and
  • How the group will communicate about their work externally.

Discussion prompts

These prompts may help your group discover what their participation in open is and what types of activities they may already be doing in open education:

  • What does open education mean to you? Are there activities that fall under open education that are already part of your regular educational practice? What are they and why do you participate in them? What value do they bring to your educational practice?
  • What roles do you think digital technologies and the Internet have played in making open education possible? Are there types of open educational activities that are dependent on digital technologies and the Internet?
  • Thinking of your own teaching practice, have you ever revised learning content to make it better suited for your course? Why did you revise it? Did you have to get permission before you revised it?

Create an Inventory of Open

A good place to start as an open working group is to take an inventory of the open educational practices (OEP) at your institution. Engaging in this early on can give you a baseline of both open textbook adoptions and open teaching practices at your institution. This baseline can be used to help you measure the impact of your work advocating for and supporting open practices. It can also be a way for the administration to understand levels of cost savings and start looking at learning impacts. For instructors, creating an inventory is a good way to meet them where they are by sharing and showcasing what they are already doing in the open. Finally, this project can help to locate other individuals, such as early adopters who you may wish to include within the open working group.

A number of institutions and organizations have developed inventories of student cost savings in relation to open educational resources (OER) displacing traditional course textbooks. Determining student savings can engage different stakeholders such as student groups in open education and can help policy makers and institutional leaders understand the value of OER. One example of determining cost savings for students is BCcampus where they use a self-reporting form and a cost calculation to determine students savings from commercial textbook displacement. In 2018, SPARC worked with David Wiley to track student savings in the United States due to OER.[1] This post discusses the methodology that they used and contains links to all of the data.

A graph showing estimated savings by course at UBC. Image description available.
Figure 2: Estimated cost savings by course, 2018 UBC. [Image Description]

Approaches to creating an inventory

An inventory may require a lot of conversations and investigative work. Often, the more successful inventories require engaging staff and faculty at a one-on-one level in order to find out what OER work is being done. If you are looking to create an inventory of open at your institution, you can take the following actions:

  • Survey faculty to determine how they are using OER. (See this 2016 survey of faculty using OER [PDF].)
  • Contact OpenStaxBCcampus Open Education, and other open textbook providers to obtain a list of faculty adoptions from your institution.
  • Create and distribute a survey, and have instructors report their adoptions.
  • Work with the library and the teaching and learning centre to get information about what resources are being included in different courses.

In Practice: Creating an Inventory at UBC

At the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and the open working group approached the evaluation of OER and OEP initially by trying to get a picture of some of the open practices that instructors were using at UBC. This approach helped to get a baseline of the adoption, adaption, and creation of OER within the institution and made it possible to share examples within UBC and with the larger community.

Developing an inventory for a large and sometimes decentralized research university required using a number of different strategies and approaches:

  • They sent out surveys to certain faculties to locate examples of adoption, creation, and adaptation.
  • The Faculty Liaisons, a group of staff who work at both the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and individual faculty units, worked with faculty teaching-and-learning units to find examples of OEP.
  • They contacted BCcampus and OpenStax to obtain lists of current open textbook adoptions at UBC.
  • Based on the activities above, they followed up with individual faculty members and departments to determine specific adoption details.

These time-intensive activities were undertaken primarily by the Open Initiatives Strategist in collaboration with the open working group. The final result was an ongoing series of UBC Open Snapshots that captured the current state of open at the university. In addition, the process revealed potential UBC-student savings between $1.7 and $2.9 million between 2011 and 2016.

Image descriptions

Figure 2 image description: A graph showing high and low cost-savings estimates for fifty UBC courses in 2018. For most courses, savings estimates were under $100,000 per course. Fifteen courses had savings that ranged between $100,000 and $200,000 on the high end. The two courses with the highest estimated potential savings saved students over $350,000 each. [Return to Figure 2]

Attributions

Media Attributions


  1. Mo Nyamweya, “A New Method for Estimating OER Savings,” SPARC, https://sparcopen.org/news/2018/estimating-oer-student-savings/ (accessed January 31, 2019). 

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Engaging a Community through Teaching and Learning

Last spring BCcampus shared a research call for proposals focused on removing barriers to online learning through a lens of teaching and learning. Dr. Paula Hayden at the College of New Caledonia saw this as an opportunity to build on a project she was working on with the Cheslatta Carrier Nation and was successful with her application for funding. 

Post by the BCcampus editorial team

The College of New Caledonia (CNC) in Prince George, B.C., is a community college with six campuses serving the northern interior, including 21 First Nations communities. CNC recently improved its technology infrastructure to ensure the community of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation has access to courses and programs through its Digital Delivery Instruction (DDI) classrooms. The goal was to make it easier for people to access courses such as high school upgrading or initial prerequisite courses, then transition into other courses or programs they are interested in.

We recently interviewed Paula about the research project, and this is what she had to share:

Infrastructure is Easy

“With modern technology, it’s relatively easy to work with a corporate provider to implement the equipment necessary to accommodate a DDI-based solution, but the question is, what are we going to do with the technology? How will we support the users?” asked Paula. 

“We realized that we were having a conversation about the community without having a conversation with the community, and that didn’t seem right. We need to look beyond the technology to understand what the learners need, which could be tech support, study support, counselling, or other types of support required for humans in any enterprise. You can’t just say, ‘Here it is – have fun!’”

What Makes Learning Happen?

“We soon realized that there were many reasons why people didn’t engage in educational opportunities,” explained Paula, “and if those underlying reasons weren’t resolved, a DDI-based solution might not be effective. If you weren’t successful, for example, in a physical learning environment with a teacher present, you may not be comfortable – or have any more success – in an online environment.”  

“To understand the needs better, we started with an appreciative inquiry approach – asking people about a time in their life where they had success in learning. It may have been in a formal or informal setting – working with a granddad or auntie, for example – where they felt respected, safe, and welcomed. We wanted to know what made the learning possible so we can replicate that going forward. If we know you were able to learn when you felt supported, valued, and accepted, we have something to build on.”

“It’s easy to identify problems, but if we look at the successes we have and focus on them – figuring out what worked – we can do it again and show others how to do it, too.”

Next Steps

“Through this project, we’ve developed a better understanding of working with the Indigenous community,” shared Paula. “The conversations with the people in Cheslatta, as well as with others, have raised important questions for our researchers: who should be leading education initiatives in and with First Nations communities? What limitations are non-Indigenous leaders putting on access to education for Indigenous learners (inadvertently or on purpose)? How can philosophically different (although not opposing) points of view around education delivery be reconciled so that (largely) non-Indigenous education providers can meet the needs and expectations of Indigenous learners?  Reflecting on these will shape the next steps in the research before the final report.”

Effective Indigenization

“Our approach to engaging with Indigenous communities is not as robust as it might be,” continued Paula. “People like me are sitting in a position of influence, and we’re trying to make decisions for people – about people – but we’re not engaging with them deeply enough. It’s caused me to reflect in terms of how do I develop a relationship with the various Indigenous communities that we serve? How do I learn the protocols for doing that appropriately and well? How do I understand their learning needs and ambitions? How do I work with the infrastructure that I do have influence over to meet the needs of those communities?”

“If we want to decolonize the way we do things, we have to think of things differently – not just fitting Indigenous communities into our current infrastructure. We can’t assume what will work – we have to research to find out what will work.”

At BCcampus, we are looking forward to learning more about Dr. Hayden’s research and sharing it with the learning and teaching community of B.C.

Notable quote:

“We’re a community college, and our goal is to serve the community, including every demographic. The Indigenous community should have access to the education they need and want, even if that’s not what we’re currently offering.”

~Dr. Paula Hayden, Director of Centre for Teaching and Learning, College of New Caledonia

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