Crafting a better BCcampus Online Book Club: Learnings from Fall 2019

Post by Leva Lee, Manager, Learning + Teaching

In 2018, the BCcampus Online Book Club was created to provide informal, flexible, and accessible teaching and learning professional development for faculty, instructors, and staff in the B.C. post-secondary system. In addition, the book club was offered to explore how we might strengthen community connections through promoting conversations on teaching and learning and evidence-based practice. 

Learnings from the inaugural book club offering were shared at the Educational Developers Caucus Showcase in February 2019 and in the post “Eight Essential Principles in the Design of an Online Book Club.” Then, in the fall of 2019, we offered the BCcampus Online Book Club a second time, modifying our model based on the feedback. To address concerns about privacy, we migrated the blog site from WordPress and created a new one hosted by the B.C. Open Ed Tech Collaborative (OpenETC). We added the chat and webinar tools available through OpenETC, Mattermost, and BigBlueButton to support book club discussion.

Based on the “eight essentials” or guiding principles for our book club, we discovered the following insights, as well as uncovered further questions for how we might craft a better book club. 


Migrating the book club blog to OpenETC fit better with our approach as a community-based offering and our desire to use open source tools. However, in this second offering, we did not get the anticipated participant uptake. Though a simple process, we wondered if the requirement to register as a member of the book club and to create an account to access tools created a barrier for participants. As well, were our book club conversations — which required the login to see the chats — too “hidden”? Was moving our site to another host and the introduction of new tools too disruptive? Or, were we experiencing the normal cycle of awareness and growth of a new offering? That said, the move toward requiring membership in the book club felt like a progressive step toward creating a more solid community with identifiable and visible individuals with whom we may build relationships around the common interest of teaching and learning.

Flexibility and use of turn-key technology

The tools we chose (to support flexibility and allow for both asynchronous and synchronous discussion) performed satisfactorily. Participants were very proficient with ed technology, but the chat tool was at times confusing, particularly when there were multiple discussions. In addition, one of our participants tried using the phone-in feature to the web meetup, but it did not work. This functionality would be a useful feature for participants balancing busy schedules.


As in our first offering, participants were encouraged to focus on sharing experience and practical takeaways in both the chapter chats and the weekly web conference meetings. Several facilitators modelled the strategies featured in the readings in our meetings, which provided practical, hands-on professional learning, linking theory to practice.


To help the book club to be a “fun, safe, supportive, collegial” space, we developed a book club “Code of Conduct,” which we posted weekly in the introduction to each of the chapter chats: The Mattermost and BBB spaces have been created for Book Club participants to engage in respectful and relevant discussion on our selected reading. Please read carefully, reflect before sharing, challenge tactfully, question thoughtfully, forgive mistakes (yours and theirs), provide sources, have fun.


Suggestions for both book club offerings were provided by members of the B.C. post-secondary community. Books that were shortlisted were those thought to have a broad appeal for those in teaching and learning and that were readily available through library loan, teaching and learning centres, or purchase. For the next book club reading, it was suggested we select something more provocative or “edgy” to promote discussion. There was also a suggestion that we might do shorter readings, such as journal articles or blog posts, and choose an open publication(s).

In both offerings, we involved very experienced and knowledgeable volunteer facilitators. In the first offering, we suggested a blog template for facilitators to follow, while in the second offering, we encouraged each to write their post however they wished. The variety made for a very interesting offering of high-quality posts and discussions. In addition, the facilitators themselves were very engaged and dedicated participants who comprised the core of the fall 2019 book club. 

Access/ease of participation

Future book selection will consider open publications that are available at low or no cost, provide the possibility for using the content for activities that extend teaching and learning, and have additional formats supporting learner choice and accessibility, e.g., audio recordings, reader-friendly e-books.

Other comments

We received feedback that a shorter duration for the book club would be desirable, as it would help to sustain focus and participation in the book club.

The BCcampus Online Book Club Fall 2019 had the follow participation statistics:

  • 28 book club members (membership is defined as someone who is registered with an account on the OpenETC)
  • 9 facilitators, each posting a blog on one of the book chapters 
  • 9 chapter chats, culminating in an online meetup at the end of the week
  • An average of 8 participants attended each online meetup
  • At the time of the offering, there were 113 followers of @BCcBookclub on Twitter
  • Note: Subscribers to the blog site decreased from the first offering: we suspect this was a result of some problems encountered in the transition of our site hosting service

In this second offering of the BCcampus Online Book Club, we were able to meet with educators to discuss and meaningfully share many learnings centred around the reading of a book. If any measure of success is the level of care, commitment, and thoughtful participation that took place in the book club, it was, indeed, a highly successful endeavour. There is, however, room for improvement, and we look forward to further exploration of additional ways to enhance learning for participants. Lastly, thank you to all the dedicated facilitators and participants who generously shared their time and knowledge in support of the ever evolving BCcampus Online Book Club.

For learnings and a detailed account of her experience with the BCcampus Online Book Club, read Sylvia Riessner’s blog post.

A Fall 2020 book club is being planned, so keep in touch!

Award for Excellence in Open Education: Mary Shier

Nominated by Andrea Eitle, Education Advisor, College of the Rockies, Golden campus

The newest recipient of the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education is Mary Shier, Adult Upgrading Instructor and Education Advisor, College of the Rockies, Fernie campus. Mary has contributed significantly to the open education movement in B.C. with her efforts to create open educational resources for courses in the Upgrading for Academic and Career Entry (UACE) program at the College of the Rockies. Mary recently developed an open textbook course for Education and Career Planning, as well as Student Success, and is currently designing ancillary resources for instructors pertaining to these courses.

Mary’s passion and dedication to this project shine through her work: she has developed applicable content relevant to student success in today’s modern world. Mary teamed up with a graphic designer to create illustrations that demonstrate diversity and inclusivity throughout the text. Her material is well-organized and easy to navigate for both students and instructors. Mary’s contribution provides tremendous value to the College of the Rockies UACE program, which offers upgrading courses at our regional campuses. The resources she created throughout the 2019/2020 school year will certainly benefit the open education movement in British Columbia, both in and beyond the Kootenays. 

Notable quote: 

Providing access to education is a key mandate of colleges and at College of the Rockies we see the difference this makes in the lives of our students and communities every day.  Open educational resources (OERs) are an important part of making education accessible for our students. OERs reduce the costs for students, thus making education more affordable, and they allow instructors the opportunity to customize their materials to meet the unique needs of their students. This is particularly true of Mary’s open education work to create materials focused on Student Success strategies for adults who are pursuing high school graduation requirements which will open up new pathways to further their employment and education options.” 

Robin Hicks, Vice President Academic and Applied Research, College of the Rockies

Relevant links:

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

Working Together, Learning Together

Invitation: To educators and anyone doing the work of “pivoting online” who would like to drop in with questions, and/or to hear others’ challenges and solutions.

Who is hosting: BCcampus – a passionate group of instructional designers, learning technologists, administrators, and more!  

And why…We feel the enormous challenge you are facing today and in the weeks to come. We want to offer support, particularly to institutions and educators without access to a large teaching and learning support team.

Topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Human Support/Communications
  • Exams Online
  • Experiential Learning Online

Expectation setting: We cannot offer or replace institution-specific supports, but we CAN talk through challenges like:

  • I have an in-class final exam worth 30% – what could I do instead?
  • My students are freaking out and I can’t keep up with the messages – what can I try?
  • I want to do a live online session but I’ve never done that before – what can I do?
  • I have this assignment…I’m not sure how to do it online – do you have ideas?

Join us for one or both sessions:

Starting at ground zero? 

Join us for the super-duper basics of online learning AKA no dumb questions session. This drop-in is for folx who are completely new to the online teaching world. There are no dumb questions. We will try and cover the basics of online learning while giving you the space to ask your questions. March 25, 2020 @ 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm PDT

Learn more:

BCcampus COVID-19 update – March 10, 2020

Countries around the world, including Canada, are working to contain the current outbreak of the coronavirus virus (COVID-19) and as such, BCcampus is continuing to follow the advice of the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and provincial and federal authorities. As cases continue to increase around the world it is a challenging and uncertain time, but it’s important to note that the risk to people in British Columbia and the rest of Canada remains low at this time.

We have been given no indication of the need to change or cancel the Festival of Learning at this time. However, we will remain vigilant in ensuring a safe space is maintained for all those attending, and if conditions worsen, we will respond appropriately based on public health recommendations.

Most of the cases in B.C. have been linked to travellers, but to ensure we prevent local transmission we urge each and every member of our community to take personal responsibility to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses (coronavirus, colds, and influenza). This includes:

  • Avoid touching your face/eyes/mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home when you are ill, especially if you have a fever, cough, or runny nose
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water
  • If a sink is not available, use 60-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact

Learn more:

Cornering the Open Market: Announcing the Recipients of the Marketing OER Grants

With financial support from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, BCcampus is distributing grants to institutions and faculty members for the development of open educational resources in marketing, with the goal of creating OER that will contribute to the possibility of a Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) program in marketing.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

We are pleased to award grants to four projects that will move us closer to this goal through the creation and adaptation of OER in the following subject areas:

  • Consumer behaviour
  • Marketing plan development
  • Digital marketing
  • Principles of marketing

Andrea Niosi, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Faculty of Business Instructor

“Consumer behaviour examines the perceptions, motivations, attitudes and behaviours of consumers in various purchasing and decision-making contexts. Much of the content and theories adapted to consumer behaviour are rooted in psychology, anthropology, and sociology. This open textbook project will take a less conventional look at consumer behaviour by closely examining the relationship between marketing and culture. This project intends to demonstrate to business students that marketing is a responsibility that should be done with care and consideration. The content highlights social justice themes that pertain to advertising and marketing, including sustainable and responsible consumption, production, and disposal options; anti-consumerism, materialism, and compulsive consumerism; ethnic, racial, gender identity, and generational subcultures; and unethical and manipulative marketing practices such as green/pink washing, stereotyping, cultural appropriation, and gender archetypes. This open textbook aims to identify how marketers perpetuate harm and how the next generation of marketers can avoid it completely and still flourish in their profession.”

Rochelle Grayson, Langara College, Marketing Management Department Chair and Educational Technology Advisor

“As an instructor who has been teaching digital marketing for over 10 years, I look forward to working with a diverse team of Langara experts and specialists to create compelling, open, inclusive, and versatile digital marketing resources that will both support and reflect the ever-changing environment of digital marketing. Not only will these open educational resources (OER) encourage creative instruction and dialogue, but they will also provide an online platform for digital marketing instructors and learners across B.C. to share the latest innovations, critiques, and issues in the field. It’s an exciting time to be teaching and learning in the digital marketing space, and I look forward to the ongoing conversations and discoveries these open resources will spark!”

Michael Orwick, Okanagan College, School of Business Instructor

“We used an open textbook (Principles of Marketing) last year and found that — while it saved the students money — without any support material, it created more work than we could handle because it lacked test banks, PowerPoints, quizzes, videos, flashcards, and such. This investment in creating peripheral material offers a chance to make the open textbook a more valuable tool; one that is flexible and adaptable for each specific class. For our marketing classes, the savings to students for one year would be almost $65,000.”

Mike Walmsley, British Columbia Institute of Technology, School of Business Instructor

“This is a great opportunity to open up and share knowledge. Marketing is often one of the biggest challenges for a business, especially new start-ups. We hope to provide an open educational resource that can help learners gain a better understanding of marketing and suggest practical solutions for the problems that arise when developing a marketing plan so that businesses may achieve success. Chad Flinn and I are excited to be taking on this project and are especially thankful for all the support we have received from BCIT!”

Notable quote: 

“We are looking forward to working with these passionate educators on their projects that will contribute to filling gaps in available OER for marketing programs. Each project has the potential to save students tens of thousands in textbook costs and will provide relevant and adaptable resources in a field that is dynamic and ever-changing.” – Melanie Meyers, Project Manager for Business/STEM Zero Textbook Cost Programs and Improved Searchability, BCcampus

Learn more: 

Indigenization Guide: Types of Treaties, Laws, and Acts of Parliament

An excerpt from Pulling Together: Foundations Guide by Kory Wilson

There were many types of treaties, each signed with different goals in mind. Treaty types include:

  • Historic treaties
  • Peace and Friendship Treaties (1725–1779)
  • Douglas Treaties (1850–1854)
  • Numbered Treaties (1871–1921)
  • Modern treaties

Prior to 1960, the treaties signed in Canada covered all of the country except for most of Yukon, British Columbia, and Nunavut.

Historic treaties

Historic treaties are those treaties signed by First Nations and the British and Canadian governments between 1701 and 1923. The British and Canadian governments wanted to sign treaties with First Nations in order to reduce the possibility of conflict and to support European immigration and land settlement, agriculture, natural resource use, trade, and other economic developments.

Peace and Friendship Treaties (1725–1779)

The Peace and Friendship Treaties, signed in the Maritimes in pre-Confederation Canada, were intended to end hostilities and encourage co-operation between the British and Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations. Unlike later treaties signed in other parts of Canada, the Peace and Friendship Treaties did not involve First Nations surrendering rights to the lands and the resources they had traditionally used and occupied. In modern times, the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations continue to enjoy their treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather.

The Douglas Treaties (1850–1854)

James Douglas was the Chief Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1849, when its western headquarters was moved from Vancouver, Washington, to Victoria in the new British colony of Vancouver Island. Douglas became governor of the colony and began to encourage British settlement on First Nations lands. Over a period of four years, he made a series of 14 land purchases, known today as the Douglas Treaties. These treaties applied to territories on Vancouver Island and covered small tracts of land around Victoria, Nanaimo, and Port Hardy.

The Numbered Treaties (1871–1921)

Eleven Numbered Treaties were signed by the First Nations in Canada and the reigning monarchs of Canada (Victoria, Edward VII, or George V) between 1871 and 1921. The treaties provided the government with large tracts of land in exchange for promises made to the First Nations of the area. The specific terms differed with each treaty.

Map of Numbered Treaties in Canada
Fig 2.4: Numbered Treaties Map

The First Nations leadership and the Canadian government had different goals in signing the Numbered Treaties.

The First Nations’ goals were to:

  • secure the survival of their people (who had been seriously affected by disease and starvation)
  • establish a peaceful relationship with the settler government
  • ensure their cultural and spiritual survival as separate and distinct nations by keeping their own form of government and institutions
  • begin to transition from a hunter-gatherer society to an economy based on agriculture and animal husbandry

The Canadian government’s goals were to:

  • advance colonization across the Prairie regions
  • complete the Canada Pacific Railway
  • extract the resources from the area

Modern treaties

Many modern treaties are being negotiated today. The Government of Canada officially calls modern treaties Comprehensive Land Claims. As of May 2017, 65 First Nations in British Columbia were participating in the treaty process. Six First Nations have completed a treaty. These negotiations are “tri-partite,” meaning that three levels of government are involved: the First Nation, the Government of Canada, and the Province of British Columbia. The first modern treaty in British Columbia was completed in 1999 with the Nisga’a First Nation[1]although this treaty was negotiated outside of the B.C. treaty process.

There are many barriers to First Nations achieving a treaty today. Some First Nations have been working for decades to get treaties for their people. The process is very slow and expensive. Also, for many years the Government of Canada tried to stop First Nations from organizing a treaty process. From 1927 to 1951, the Indian Act made it illegal to meet or raise funds for Indigenous rights and lands claims issues.

For these and other reasons, some First Nations in British Columbia do not agree with the treaty process. Union of BC Indian Chiefs[2] has described why these agreements are not fair or equal:

  • The Government of Canada gets the recognition of its sovereignty, but First Nations do not. First Nations get limited recognition of their right to a piece of land that is always much smaller than their traditional territory. They have to co-manage that land with the government.
  • First Nations may achieve self-government, but they have to obey Canadian and provincial laws. Canada does not have to obey any First Nations laws.
  • Modern treaties are the “full and final settlement” between First Nations and the federal and provincial governments. The First Nation agrees it will not make any legal claims against Canada or B.C. to right historical wrongs. For example, it will not seek compensation for any past extraction of resources or destroyed habitat.

Laws and Acts of Parliament

We are not your slaves. These lakes, these woods and mountains were left to us by
our ancestors. They are our inheritance; and we will part with them to none.

– Pontiac or Obwandiyag (c. 1720–1769; Odawa chief, French ally, and resistor of British occupation)

The second tool of colonization used to exert colonial power was through making laws and passing acts of Parliament. Prior to Canada becoming a country in 1867, many laws and acts were made and passed either in the British Parliament or by the colonial governments in North America. In both cases, these laws and acts were made without consultation with the Indigenous Peoples whom they affected. After 1867, the federal and provincial governments of Canada passed acts and laws that were designed to encourage settlement on Indigenous land and to assimilate Indigenous Peoples – encouraging them or coercing them to abandon their culture, languages, and lifeways and to adopt settler culture.

Royal Proclamation, 1763

An important early legal document was the Royal Proclamation issued by George III in 1763. It formally ceded North America to Britain from France. According to the Royal Proclamation, British colonists were forbidden to settle on Indigenous lands, and settler officials were forbidden to grant lands without royal approval. It further stated that Indigenous lands could only be ceded to the Crown and that they could not be sold to the settlers. The Royal Proclamation is significant in law, and it is referenced by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Gradual Civilization Act, 1857

In 1857, the pre-confederation Parliament of the Province of Canada passed the Gradual Civilization Act. It was created with the purpose of terminating First Nations men’s Indian identity and enfranchising them to become British subjects. It was assumed that First Nations men would willingly surrender their legal and ancestral identities for the “privilege” of becoming British. Individuals or entire bands could enfranchise. If a man enfranchised, his wife and children were automatically enfranchised. This contributed to the marginalization of First Nations women.

Under the Gradual Civilization Act, enfranchised men were entitled to “a piece of land not exceeding fifty acres out of the lands reserved or set apart for the use of his tribe.” This land and money would become their property, but by accepting it they would give up “all claim to any further share in the lands or moneys then belonging to or reserved for the use of their tribe, and cease to have a voice in the proceedings thereof.” Often the promises of enfranchisement were not honoured and the First Nation man would not receive what was promised.

Enfranchisement was to remain an important aim of the government after Canada came into existence in 1867. Enfranchisement could occur involuntarily if a First Nations man wanted to go to university, enlist, was “of good moral character,” or spoke English.

Other pre-Confederation laws

During the same period, the Province of Canada introduced other laws that treated First Nations people differently, including:

  • consumption laws (banning First Nations people from consuming liquor)
  • taxation (exempting some First Nations people from paying certain taxes)
  • commercial laws (First Nations people could only sell their land to the Crown)
  • different treatment of First Nations men and First Nations women

Media Attributions

  1. Nisga’a First Nation Understanding the Treaty: 
  2. Union of BC Indian Chiefs: 

Learn more

BCcampus Open Education Working Group Guide: Identify Funding, Resources, and Support

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

A key approach to driving adoptions of open educational resources (OER) is to find ways of providing funding to instructors adopting or adapting open textbooks or resources.  An open working group may want to look at distributing internal grants to support instructors in the development of open resources. In addition, the open working group may want to take an inventory of grants available from external organizations, such as BCcampus, Creative Commons, or the Mozilla Foundation. You can also find ways of combining these sources; for example, you can match organizational funds with institutional grants.

External grants

In the very early days of OER, a handful of foundations such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation led the way in funding OER projects across the globe. Today, funding for OER remains limited, although more diversified. Individuals and colleges may explore a range of sources to support their OER work, including those listed below:

  • International funds. For example, the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Program provides funding for individuals working on OER and open initiatives globally.
  • Provincial funds. Check out, for example, call for proposals to develop or adapt OER that are periodically posted on the BCcampus website.

Institutional grants

Some institutions may have already launched an OER-grants program. If this is the case, the open working group may wish to reach out to the grant-program administrators to coordinate messaging and open education-related programming when possible.

If your institution does not have any OER-dedicated grants, you should see if there are existing grants and funds that could be applied to OER work:

  • Ask your institution about existing research grants and whether the development of OER may be funded as part of those research grants.
  • Check with your institution to see if funds, refreshments, or time off are offered for OER projects and events, such as sprints to create new OER.

Develop an institutional grant program

If there are no existing grants that can be applied to the creation or adaptation of open resources, you may wish to lead the development of institutional grants program for OER.

In Practice: Working Groups Supporting Open Education Grants

Including open in existing innovation grants at UBC

The University of British Columbia (UBC) has a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) that was created in 1991 to enrich student learning by supporting innovative and effective educational enhancements. Starting in the 2017/2018 cycle, a priority focus on the development or integration of OER was added to the TLEF criteria for new proposals. Furthermore, eligibility requirements were also added that specifically state that funded projects are encouraged to openly license their developed materials under an appropriate Creative Commons licence to allow for broad sharing within and beyond UBC.

Applying for and supporting external grants at JIBC

At the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), staff and faculty are encouraged to apply for external grants for funding for OER, where applicable. JIBC has received a number of grants/funding for OER, including the 2017 Zed Cred grant from BCcampus. The Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation (CTLI) offers guidance and support for staff and faculty submitting OER-grant applications and may also offer funding for OER creation or adaptation projects. The CTLI is particularly interested in funding and having students get involved in OER projects.

Setting up internal OER faculty grants at TRU

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) offers yearly Strategic Investments Fund (SIF) grants for special projects. After the TRU Student Union’s (TRUSU) 2016 Open Textbook campaign to push for support for faculty to create OER, a small, informal group put together a joint proposal to create faculty grants. Members from TRUSU, the Faculty of Arts, the Library, Open Learning, and the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning partnered to fund up to eight faculty grants of $5000 each (based on SFU’s similar program) and were successful in their request.

SFU OER grants

Since 2016, the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Open Educational Resources Grantsprogram has provided funding and in-kind support to over fifteen projects that have saved students significant money on textbook costs and supported innovative teaching practices. This program has been jointly administered and supported by the Library and Teaching & Learning Centre (TLC). The new SFU OER working group plans to coordinate with the already established grants program to raise awareness about funding opportunities available to instructors via this program and to organize events highlighting and celebrating achievements of SFU OER grant recipients


Learn more: