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BCcampus Open Courses Project: Creating Agency for Educators

Building on the success of the B.C. Open Textbook Project, we’re excited to share the newest opportunity to improve access to and creation of open educational resources (OER): the BCcampus Open Online Courses Project.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Open textbooks have become a familiar presence in many classrooms across B.C. The pre-COVID-19 adoption rate was good, and since the switch to online learning driven by the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge interest in the 300+ open textbooks currently available through BCcampus. We’re on track to hit over $20 million in savings for students this September, so the next step is to find ways to bring more value to the educators and students across the province. To make that happen, we’ve just launched a call for proposals to identify, adopt, adapt, and build learning resources for the post-secondary community in B.C.

Inspired by Those Who Know

“The idea of developing the open courses project came from Carrie Nolan, acting dean of strategic initiatives at Coast Mountain College,” shared Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus. “Carrie suggested that the post-secondary system could collaboratively build high-value courses. With the support of CMTN’s president, Justin Kohlman, they proposed the idea to BC Colleges and found that there was a huge interest in this idea. BCcampus was recommended as the right team to handle this, and we’re looking forward to the influx of proposals.” Once the project made the rounds through BC Colleges, it was also circulated through the BC Association of Institutes and Universities (BCAIU), and ultimately was seen by every vice president academic in the province. 

“The open courses will be great for the entire sector,” explained Robynne Devine, project manager at BCcampus, “creating experiential learning opportunities for the students and valuable course materials for the instructors.”

Evolving Open 

The playing field for open has grown substantially over the past few years. In addition to open textbooks, we have Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) programs at multiple institutions in B.C., Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) bootcamps to help new-to-online-teaching instructors, as well as the work we’re currently doing in our Open Homework Systems Project. We’ve also collected and curated a list of virtual labs for science education, vetted and approved by local educators. Building processes to help instructors create courses and course elements is the next logical step for us, and we’re excited to announce that we are now accepting proposals from local professionals, with a goal of giving educators more tools, resources, and agency for future courses.

Deliverables

Through this project, we will produce fully developed and openly licensed courses that address the learning needs of high-priority, transferable subjects. The materials will include individual OER, such as videos, assignments, rubrics, and other curriculum. We’re designing the technology infrastructure to enable the discovery of additional resources through the use of metadata. We’ll continue to recognize advocacy and support for adoption and adaptation of the open learning materials.

Call for Proposals

The call for proposals is now open, and we’re inviting instructors, teaching and learning centres, libraries, articulation committees, and everyone else in the post-secondary sector of B.C. to participate.

“The closing date is mid-July,” shared Robynne, “but we’ll be using a rolling adjudication to assess the proposals, so don’t wait for the last minute to submit your brilliant idea. And if you do miss the deadline, send us your proposal if you think it’s something we need to see. Our hope is to continue this project to create and provide high-quality OER to educators and students throughout the province.”

“Our timelines are extremely aggressive and ambitious,” said Mary, “but we’re fortunate to have such a wealth of talent and resources, and we’re confident in our ability to deliver excellent learning materials — produced by subject matter experts and vetted by their peers — as soon as possible. We know our partners in other jurisdictions have done much of this work already, and we plan to collaborate with them to ensure we are building on their work”.

Notable Quote

“This project is such a positive sign of our ability, as a system, to think holistically about the open resources we have. It’s an opportunity to pool our talents with the open-focused educators across the province, and then across the country: collaborating on curriculum development and building on the open ecosystem we’ve been working so hard on for so many years.”


—Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus

Learn More:

Open First! at Selkirk

Selkirk College, the first regional community college in British Columbia, is poised for another first: asking their faculty to consider Open First! as they plan their fall curriculum.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

In the early days of 2020, when things were what we used to think of as normal, we had a chance to meet with the faculty at Selkirk College in face-to-face presentations to share some of the benefits of open educational resources (OER). We didn’t realize how much of an impact these sessions would make, but as post-secondary institutions in B.C. found their footing in the new normal, Selkirk announced that they were taking an Open First! approach for the fall and future semesters.

Open First!

“The Teaching & Learning Institute team is working closely with our instructional staff to support the adoption of more open educational resources as they design their programs,” said Rhys Andrews, vice president of education at Selkirk College. “Open offers considerable financial savings for students with substantial flexibility for instructors and is well suited for the online learning environment. While we do anticipate change in the coming months, our focus remains on excellence in education and learner success, two components of Selkirk’s strategic direction. Choosing open will help us achieve our goals.”

Regional Representatives

In the fall of 2019, BCcampus welcomed a pair of regional representatives to help us build our connections with the post-secondary institutions servicing the more remote areas of the province. Carolee Clyne is our open education advisor for the North, and Ross McKerlich is advising the institutions in the Interior. Ross coordinated a series of learning sessions for Selkirk faculty, opening the channel for conversations about open.

“After the in-person sessions at Selkirk, I was able to build relationships with faculty,” said Ross. “I listened and learnt about their open education goals and offered advice. COVID-19 may have accelerated the switch to online learning, but it was clear to me that the faculty cares about the learners, and the way they’ve embraced open affirms this.”

Delivery Models

To provide flexible options that work for students and instructors, Selkirk is planning to deliver their programs through a variety of models, including:

  • Online — asynchronous lessons that allow students to connect with their cohort and instructors as needed via the learning management system (LMS) Moodle. Projects are assigned due dates and submitted via the LMS.
  • Remote —synchronous lessons with set schedules, conducted via video services such as Zoom. Essentially the same as an in-class session, but accessed online.
  • In-person — on-campus instruction, primarily for students requiring access to labs, studios, fieldwork, practicums, etc.
  • Hybrid/blended — a range of scheduled remote learning, online asynchronous materials, and in-person instruction.

Textbook Selection 

Neil Martin, education developer in the Teaching & Learning Institute at Selkirk College, has developed a 12-point list of considerations for educators planning their textbook needs for upcoming semesters.

“We created this resource for our faculty, so they can really take a look at what they need from the learning resources they’re planning to use in the course they teach,” explained Neil. “The checklist asks them to look at the value a textbook brings to their students: Is it relevant and current? Is it fair to the students to ask them to buy a whole textbook when the instructor only plans to use a chapter or two? Does this course even need a textbook?”

“The cost-savings for students through OER is substantial,” explained Theresa Southam, chair of the Teaching & Learning Institute at Selkirk College. “Our student union body has been asking for this for years, and while some of our instructors were using open textbooks, many were not. Another benefit of switching to open is the reduction of cheating and plagiarism. With the customized nature of the authentic materials, it’s virtually impossible to cheat, and this means we use less online invigilation services or proctoring software.”

OER enables instructors to adopt and adapt the textbook to their teaching needs. Since the information is covered through a Creative Commons licence, the instructors can pick and choose the chapters they want, and they can contribute to the textbook by building on the open-source material.

“With open textbooks, you have the option of adapting them to your needs,” shared Theresa, “but it’s not an expectation. Use them as they are now, and if you are motivated to improve them in the future, you can.”

BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education

Because of their focus on open education and the work they’ve done to make it easy for instructors to examine their options, we’re presenting Selkirk College with the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education for June.

“We’re so grateful to Rhys and his team for having created this opportunity for the educators at Selkirk to switch to open,” said Mary Burgess, executive director at BCcampus. “By putting a spotlight on open at Selkirk, they’re improving access to education for learners throughout the province.”

Do you know a person, group, or institution doing an excellent job of using, creating, or promoting open educational resources? Show them that you appreciate what they’re doing by nominating them for the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education. There’s no deadline, as one recipient is recognized each month for their outstanding efforts.

Notable Quote

“Embracing open will help us focus on the quality of the learning experience for our learners, without compromising the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and the communities we serve.”


—Rhys Andrews, vice president of education, Selkirk College

“Open allows instructors to have true academic freedom for their programs. They can choose which parts of the textbook to use, or they can change and adapt it to make it work with their curriculum. It maximizes the potential of the OER from a teaching and learning perspective while providing financial savings for the students. We’re thrilled with the commitment that Selkirk has made to open and the benefits it provides their students and faculty.”


Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus

Learn More:

Announcing BCcampus’ 2020 Open Education Grant Recipients: Laying Foundations and Sustaining Futures

Everyone can now participate in the province’s vision of open and affordable education. No experience needed.

This year, BCcampus offered two types of grants for institutions that bookend each side of the open education spectrum, from foundational, when institutions examine how open education may be incorporated into their teaching systems, to sustainable, for institutions looking to improve and maintain open education practices already in place.

Post by Lauri Aesoph, Manager, Open Education 

Added to this, and in light of the financial constraints faced by B.C.’s post-secondary institutions during the current pandemic, BCcampus removed the standard requirement that applicants secure matching funds from their institutions equal to the grant total.

The foundational grants will support three key efforts for institutional grantees:

  1. Curation and — when needed — the customization of open educational resources (OER) that replace or supplement commercial resources used by faculty
  2. Education of faculty and students about open educational practices (OEP) and how these might be incorporated into their teaching
  3. Strategies that consider how open education might fit into institution-wide planning and policies

For institutions looking to sustain established open educational systems, key efforts include:

  1. Supporting the development of engaging, interactive OER that replace or supplement commercial resources used by faculty
  2. Encouraging faculty to incorporate OEP into their teaching
  3. Considering how OEP and OER might fit within its overall strategy on teaching, learning, and scholarship, and what steps can be taken to begin or continue this process

With financial support from the Hewlett Foundation, here are this year’s successful applicants.

Foundation

College of the Rockies and Selkirk College 

This joint project will focus on:

  1. Identifying faculty needs and existing resources for open education development and use at each college
  2. Using these data to develop an Open Learning Resource Inventory (OLRI) and determine directions for future development of open education ancillary resources 
  3. Putting out a call that assists faculty with design, training, and support of projects that fill gaps for ancillary resources
  4. Showcasing developed OER at the Learning Region Symposium, a yearly event held by the Learning Region.

University of British Columbia Okanagan campus

This project will include:

  1. Implementation of programs, activities, and events that support advocacy and awareness building. If the university is open to students in September, the majority of events will be held in
    person and on campus. However, a contingency plan for virtual programs, activities, and events will also be made in case the university is still closed due to COVID-19.
  2. Establishment of an institutional grant program for instructors to adapt OER for their courses. The funding may be used to hire student assistants and to redesign a course that incorporates OEP.

University of the Fraser Valley

This project has the following objectives:

  1. Establishing an Open Education Faculty Fellows program, in which each fellow will run a project. To maximize institutional representation, applicants will be chosen from a variety of academic divisions.
  2. Establishing a program of Open Education Student Assistants that support and are paired with Faculty Fellows and their projects. Student Assistants will also liaise with other UFV student groups, such as the Student Union Society.

Sustainability

University of Victoria

This project is two pronged and includes:

  1. Developing a new Open Education Digital Initiatives Grant (OEDIG) program. The program will aim to build a team of up to 10 faculty members from across campus. It will include a variety of university supports, such as librarians, education technologists, book production specialists, and students.
  2. Creating an Open Education Faculty Fellows program that aims to reduce student barriers to accessibility and learning by increasing adoptions of OER at UVic.

Learn more:

Indigenization Guide: Truth and Reconciliation

We must be honest about the real two solitudes in this country, that between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens, and commit to doing tangible things to close the divide in awareness, understanding and relationships.… We can no longer afford to be strangers to each other in this country that we now share. We could actually come to know each other not just as labels or hyphenated Canadians but rather as neighbors and as friends, as people that we care about.


– Dr. Marie Wilson (award-winning print, radio, and television journalist; university lecturer; commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

Like other policies under the Indian Act, the negative effects of residential schools were passed from generation to generation. Indigenous Peoples have been working hard to overcome the legacy of residential schools and to change the realities for themselves, their families, and their Nations. The federal government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to deal with the legacy of residential schools. Its mandate was to accumulate, document, and commemorate the experiences of the 80,000 survivors of the residential school system in Canada, so the survivors could begin to heal from the trauma of these experiences.

The TRC had two overarching goals:

  • to document the experiences of all survivors, families, and communities personally affected by residential schools – including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis former residential school students and their families and communities, the churches, former school employees, government, and other Canadians
  • to teach all Canadians about what happened in residential schools

The TRC pursued truth by gathering people’s stories and statements, researching government records, and providing public education. The TRC saw reconciliation as an ongoing individual and collective process.

The TRC’s 94 Calls to Action

The TRC built on the Government of Canada’s “Statement of Reconciliation” dated January 7, 1998. The commission completed its work on December 18, 2015. However, the journey of Truth and Reconciliation is far from over.

The TRC produced several reports based on the histories and stories of residential school survivors. One of the most significant reports is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, which proposes 94 specific calls to action aimed at redressing the legacy of residential schools and advancing the process of Canadian reconciliation. You can read more at the Reconciliation Canada website.[1]

The work of the TRC was not just about documenting a particularly difficult part of Indigenous history in Canada. It was rooted in the belief that telling the truth about our common history gives us a much better starting point in building a better future. By ending the silences under which Indigenous Peoples have suffered for many decades, the TRC opened the possibility that we may all come to see each other and our different histories more clearly and be able to work together in a better way to resolve issues that have long divided us. It is the beginning of a new kind of hope.

Activities

Activity 1: Stolen Children: Voices (30 min)

This 20 minute CBC mini-documentary Stolen Children: Voices[2] shares stories from survivors and the effects of residential school on their culture, community, and families.

Reflect on Stolen Children

  • What was the most shocking part of the video? What was the hardest part to understand or accept?
  • What would have happened to you as a child if you had been taken away from your family?
  • How do you think the impacts of these schools might still be affecting Indigenous Peoples today?

Activity 2: Tons of stuff you need to know

In this book, First Nations 101: tons of stuff you need to know about First Nations peoples,[3] Tsimshian author Lynda Gray discusses and debunks many stereotypes and misinformation about First Nations people. Read this book to learn more, and then share this book with others.


  1. Reconciliation Canada website: http://reconciliationcanada.ca/ 
  2. Stolen Children: Voices: https://youtu.be/vdR9HcmiXLA 
  3. First Nations 101: tons of stuff you need to know about First Nations peoples: http://www.firstnations101.com/ 

Learn more

BCcampus Open Education Working Group Guide: Provide Grants and Support

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

Identify existing institutional and organizational support

Teaching and learning centres and libraries often have the knowledge and capacity to support aspects of open educational practices (OEP) and open educational resource (OER) development. For example, the libraries at institutions such as SFU, KPU, and UBC support faculty adopting, adapting, and creating OER. However, open education is an emerging discipline and adequate support for open education is sometimes lacking.[1] This lack of support can mean that faculty take on open projects off the sides of their desks, increasing workload and stress and increasing the potential for redlining:

For if the movement relies on voluntary academic labour or severely under-compensated academic labour to create, peer-review, and contextualize OER, we are in effect perpetrating an implicit form of redlining, one that reserves the capacity to create or adapt OER for those who already enjoy positions of privilege, such as the tenured or those who do not need the income.[2]


~Rajiv Jhangiani

Working groups can play a role in mitigating the issue of voluntary academic labour by supporting faculty by helping them identify available institutional or organizational support.

Questions to Consider

  1. What institutional resources are available to faculty, staff, and students?
  2. What resources from outside of the institution can be leveraged?
  3. Which units within your institution have the expertise to support faculty in the design and development of OER?
  4. Which units within your institution can support open pedagogy and OEP?
  5. What platforms or tools are available to create OER or support open practices? Examples, of this might include Pressbooks for textbook publishing or Media Wiki for open teaching.
  6. Which units or individuals are available to provide training and support for open tools?

Support faculty who use OER or OEP in their courses

In addition to helping faculty identify existing supports, open working groups have developed processes and services for faculty who use OER and OEP. Open working groups can also provide support for projects focused on creating or adapting OER. In B.C., this support ranges from distributing grant funds and managing these projects, to working directly with faculty members to develop and adapt OER, to providing technical support and consultation for faculty developing these projects.

In practice

Supporting the Creation of OERAt the University of Brtish Columbia (UBC), members of the open working group have provided individual consultations for faculty using open approaches to teaching. At Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), the open working group, in collaboration with the library, has developed OPuS, KPU’s Open Publishing Suite, which includes support for creating, adopting, and adapting OER with Pressbooks.

Offer open development grants for faculty

A number of open working groups are involved in the administration and support of open development grants. These grant funds are offered by the institution, awarded by the committee based on established criteria, and provided to the faculty member for the development of an OER or open course. These criteria may be based on what subjects are in need of OER or by some other criteria deemed important by your group. Examples of these grant programs can be found at KPU, BCIT, and TRU.

Offer open incentive grants for faculty

For an alternative approach to development grants, Douglas College encourages individuals or teams to apply for incentive grants towards a professional development activity of their choosing to assist in the implementation of OER in courses. The purpose of the incentive is to encourage faculty to explore and implement ways to reduce the cost of education to students while maximizing access to and use of textbooks and other learning resources by all students.


  1. Martin Weller, “Different Aspects of the Emerging OER Discipline,” Revista Educacao e Cultura Contemporanea 13, no.31 (2016). 
  2. Rajiv Jhangiani, “OER, Equity, and Implicit Creative Redlining,” Rajiv Jhangiani, PH.D., http://thatpsychprof.com/oer-equity-and-implicit-creative-redlining/ (accessed January 31, 2019). 

Learn more:

Researching Barriers to Online Learning

Dr. Paula Hayden set out to engage a community through teaching and learning, but her research took her to new and interesting spaces that challenged her beliefs and shifted her perspective.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Earlier this year, Dr. Paula Hayden, Director, Centre for Teaching & Learning at the College of New Caledonia (CNC), shared the research project she was conducting through a diversity, equity, and inclusion grant from BCcampus. Now that her research project has concluded, we caught up with her to hear about her findings.

The report explains, “on the surface, a research project focused on how to better support Indigenous learners in rural and remote communities may be perceived as a simple and appropriate inquiry. Access to education should be part of the social contract that all persons living in Canada can expect, regardless of their location in the country. We know, however, this is not necessarily the case, especially for Indigenous populations.”

What would you like readers to learn from your research?

“It’s important to learn how to engage, even if that means trying new ways that might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar,” said Paula. “I thought that I knew how to establish relationships and work well with people, but I discovered that I really don’t understand what developing a relationship means when introducing myself to an Indigenous community.”

“Despite the research project not being completed as anticipated,” the report continues, “the findings mirror others’ research efforts as far as identifying systemic, social, geographical, and financial barriers for Indigenous learners in rural and remote communities. The history that created the systems that led to inequalities has not changed, so the result here is simply more evidence of known truths.”

“The big learning that I took away from this project was: be authentic,” shared Paula. “To do this, look for ways to build relationships. Acknowledge that the lens you bring and the lens that others bring aren’t the same. Be willing to listen.”

If you could start over, what would you have done differently?

“I would have made a bigger attempt to meet people in the community, the leaders and members as a research population,” said Paula. “I’d like to learn how to understand the community — their history, hopes, and dreams, and how they live their lives. I would begin by establishing a credible, authentic relationship.”

“Despite the limitations of this research effort, there was value in it. The stories and experiences the participants shared reflected a deep-rooted appreciation for education and an optimism for education as an agent of change and success. There was a consistent reflection that education was encouraged by family and community elders, that it was valued and necessary. When participants spoke of their successes in education, those successes were most often tied to experiences that allowed them to not only learn information or skills that they valued, but to do so in a safe, nurturing, communal environment. Feeling valued and supported and having the opportunity to share the experience with others gave them confidence and inspired continued learning.”

Notable Quote

“Conducting this research has taken me on a journey of reflection and learning about myself. I hope it opens the door to further conversation with teaching and learning peers, Indigenous colleagues, and Indigenous communities.”


Dr. Paula Hayden, Director, Centre for Teaching & Learning at the College of New Caledonia

Learn More:

Researching Barriers to Online Learning

Dr. Paula Hayden set out to engage a community through teaching and learning, but her research took her to new and interesting spaces that challenged her beliefs and shifted her perspective.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Earlier this year, Dr. Paula Hayden, Director, Centre for Teaching & Learning at the College of New Caledonia (CNC), shared the research project she was conducting through a diversity, equity, and inclusion grant from BCcampus. Now that her research project has concluded, we caught up with her to hear about her findings.

The report explains, “on the surface, a research project focused on how to better support Indigenous learners in rural and remote communities may be perceived as a simple and appropriate inquiry. Access to education should be part of the social contract that all persons living in Canada can expect, regardless of their location in the country. We know, however, this is not necessarily the case, especially for Indigenous populations.”

What would you like readers to learn from your research?

“It’s important to learn how to engage, even if that means trying new ways that might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar,” said Paula. “I thought that I knew how to establish relationships and work well with people, but I discovered that I really don’t understand what developing a relationship means when introducing myself to an Indigenous community.”

“Despite the research project not being completed as anticipated,” the report continues, “the findings mirror others’ research efforts as far as identifying systemic, social, geographical, and financial barriers for Indigenous learners in rural and remote communities. The history that created the systems that led to inequalities has not changed, so the result here is simply more evidence of known truths.”

“The big learning that I took away from this project was: be authentic,” shared Paula. “To do this, look for ways to build relationships. Acknowledge that the lens you bring and the lens that others bring aren’t the same. Be willing to listen.”

If you could start over, what would you have done differently?

“I would have made a bigger attempt to meet people in the community, the leaders and members as a research population,” said Paula. “I’d like to learn how to understand the community — their history, hopes, and dreams, and how they live their lives. I would begin by establishing a credible, authentic relationship.”

“Despite the limitations of this research effort, there was value in it. The stories and experiences the participants shared reflected a deep-rooted appreciation for education and an optimism for education as an agent of change and success. There was a consistent reflection that education was encouraged by family and community elders, that it was valued and necessary. When participants spoke of their successes in education, those successes were most often tied to experiences that allowed them to not only learn information or skills that they valued, but to do so in a safe, nurturing, communal environment. Feeling valued and supported and having the opportunity to share the experience with others gave them confidence and inspired continued learning.”

Notable Quote

“Conducting this research has taken me on a journey of reflection and learning about myself. I hope it opens the door to further conversation with teaching and learning peers, Indigenous colleagues, and Indigenous communities.”


Dr. Paula Hayden, Director, Centre for Teaching & Learning at the College of New Caledonia

Learn More:

Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish: Caring for Yourself During COVID-19

BCcampus recently had the privilege of hosting our fifth virtual ACE-WIL town hall, this one about self-care. Sarah Chettleburgh, a counsellor at Royal Roads University, and Miranda Massie, a workplace well-being practices and learning consultant with UBC HR, guided participants through a 45-minute guilt-free virtual pampering session.

Post by Helena Prins, Advisor, Learning + Teaching

For some, even just the topic of self-care would have been a barrier to attendance, or to reading this post. Often, self-care is thought of as frivolous or self-indulgent. Some other barriers identified during the town hall were lack of time, guilt, and a concern that others might question one’s professional dedication when practicing self-care.

Self-care increases empathy and bolsters the immune system and can help to avoid burnout, anxiety, and depression. But you probably already knew that! Why is it, then, that — for many of us — self-care falls to the wayside, despite knowing all the good that can come out of it?

In an article about what “self-care” really means, Brianna Wiest wrote, “True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake: it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.” As we are living in a COVID-19 world, perhaps setting aside some time to consider how we might thrive during this tumultuous period is worth prioritizing.

For those struggling with how to practice self-care, Sarah provided some questions to consider:

  • What makes you feel nourished and re-energized?
  • What is something that YOU enjoy?
  • What routines/rituals are important to you?
  • What makes you feel anxious or drained?
  • What boundaries could you create (or dissolve) to support your wellness?

Miranda shared her top five tips for self-care:

  1. Prioritize positive over negative coping strategies. We all employ a variety of coping strategies to help manage our lives and recharge. However, some are proven to be more effective than others. Effective positive strategies include problem-focused strategies, in which we concentrate on solving a problem (research, strategizing, asking questions); appraisal-focused strategies, in which we attempt to modify how we think (goal setting, humour, shifting our outlook); and emotion-focused coping, in which we look to alleviate negative emotions (workouts, creative activities). We want solutions to be long-term healthy habits, rather than short-lived rewards.
  2. Adopt strategies that are small and easy to incorporate into daily life. Ensuring that our self-care strategies are small and manageable will help us effectively incorporate them into our daily life without feeling like we have just added something new to our to-do list.
  3. Choose actions that are low or no cost. For the same reason as point 2, we want things that are low or no cost so that we can eliminate as many barriers as possible between us and successful execution of the activity/strategy/action.
  4. Make room for professional self-care, too. Self-care does not have to wait until our workday is done. There is evidence to support a range of effective self-care strategies that we can embed into our professional lives so that we get self-care there, too. Professional self-care strategies include finding purpose or meaning in our work, recognition and celebration of small wins, mentorship, and social support.
  5. Find strategies that reduce your stress in the immediate moment. We want our coping strategies to work for us when we need it. A yoga class at 6 p.m. is not going to help reduce our stress after a difficult conversation at 11 a.m. While yoga is a great activity that has purpose, we also need to think about coping mechanisms that we can use in the moment to help reduce our body’s stress response and manage our emotions effectively, such as professional venting, deep breathing, walking around the block, and counting to ten. Think about what helps lower your stress response and how you could incorporate those actions more frequently, so they become habitual and preventative as well as reactionary.

There are many types of self-care, and this beautiful illustration from the article “Types of Self-Care You Need to Know” on BlessingManifesting.com could serve as a helpful jumping-off point to start thinking about strategies that could work for you and the different facets of yourself that might need more attention and care.

Listen to the self-care town hall to try out two self-care exercises.

For more resources on adapting to a COVID-19 world, explore BCcampus’ website Adapting to COVID-19.

References

Spoiled for Choice: Virtual Labs for Science Education

In response to requests for online learning materials to provide students with practical experience without sacrificing personal safety, BCcampus has curated a substantial list of free resources designed to support remote science education.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

The migration to online learning in the era of COVID-19 had some bumpy patches, but overall, students and educators across the province did a remarkable job of adapting to an online learning environment. As institutions plan for the fall intake, inquiring minds are looking for ways to bring practical experience to the online classroom. We saw this as an opportunity to bring more value to the learning community and compiled a list of resources offering alternatives to face-to-face labs.

A Starting Point

We began by collecting and collating a list of online resources and virtual labs organized by discipline, then shared via a Google Doc to allow for simultaneous edits.

“I started compiling the list based on repositories shared by some of my colleagues,” explained Arianna Cheveldave, coordinator, open education at BCcampus. “My goal was to create a list with as many resources as possible, so the subject matter experts could pick and choose the labs that best fit their needs. We sent a call out to the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT) to share with their articulation committees, and their response and contributions were indispensable.”

“Arianna did a brilliant job of compiling the information,” shared Mary Burgess, executive director at BCcampus. “We quickly learned that there are many options available, and because we lack the expertise to effectively evaluate the online and virtual labs ourselves, we invited local educators to rank and review our findings, helping us pare down the massive collection into manageable components. The response was phenomenal, and the results are fantastic.”

One of many comments from our talented reviewers

Peer Review

We asked the reviewers to look at the resources within their specialty to see if the material was appropriate for students in B.C. and to identify the resources they liked and might use.

“It was clear that the people who gathered these resources did an amazing job of scouring the internet to find them,” shared Derek Turner, an instructor at Douglas College. “I was able to go through the list to see what would be a good fit for my discipline, earth sciences. While few were a perfect match, many from other disciplines were highly applicable, allowing students to play with little nuggets of ideas to form a better understanding of our field.”

“This wasn’t about creating new resources,” said Derek. “It’s about finding and organizing what’s available to give instructors a starting point to create a learning experience.”

Having the materials reviewed by local educators helped ensure the content is relevant and applicable.

“Many of the resources online were created in the U.S. or developed for a particular jurisdiction,” explained Mike Winsemann, BCCAT director of transfer and technology. “Getting feedback from people teaching here in B.C. was important, so local instructors can have confidence in the recommendations.”

Adoption and Adaptation

“It will be great to see instructors pick up these labs and resources and use them in their classrooms,” said Mike. “All of the resources are free, and most have a CC BY licence, which means instructors can modify them to fit their particular context. Wherever possible, if you can offer these labs and resources online, we’d love to see them used for the benefit of students.”

The Virtual Lab and Science Resource Directory is now available, featuring virtual labs and online activities for:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Math
  • Physics and Astronomy

Each resource includes a brief description and a direct link to the material. Openly licensed resources are noted with their licensing information linked.

Notable Quotes

“While some institutions are doing a great job of configuring their on-campus labs to ensure there’s sufficient space between learners, their efforts are jeopardized as soon as the students leave the labs and enter the crowded hallways. Maintaining smaller class sizes in the lab isn’t a foolproof solution. Online labs provide a safe and valuable learning experience.”


Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus

“The key purpose that BCcampus and BCCAT are driving toward is minimizing the amount of disruption to student learning. It’s important for our organizations to work together, acting as a conduit and gateway to the institutions so they know that they can come to us if they have questions, and we can make sure students are treated equitably.”


Mike Winsemann, director, transfer and technology, British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer

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Equity in Education: Removing Barriers to Online Learning

An update on the research project conducted by Andrea Sator and Heather Williams, ABLE Research Consultants, funded by a BCcampus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) grant. 

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

“As online courses continue to rise for a variety of reasons, it is imperative to examine and interrogate the ways in which inequities in education are experienced in online environments. Equity in education examines issues of fairness and access to opportunities. Online course delivery has the potential to break down some barriers that exist with face-to-face classrooms,” begins the report from Heather Williams and Andrea Sator of ABLE Research Consultants.

When Heather and Andrea started their research into understanding barriers to online learning by identifying evidence-based strategies used in teaching and learning, they had no idea how much the world would change by the time they finished the study, or that their research would become exponentially more valuable for learners and teachers around the world.

Equity Mindedness 

“As people who design and deliver online learning,” shared Heather, “we need to critically reflect on our privilege and power and create additional opportunities for more people who are different from ourselves, and our norms, to build more access and inclusion into education. If we don’t account for how we design content and pull things together, we’ll be stuck with blinders on. It will take more time, but it’s time well spent, as we need to invest in our ability to be culturally affirming for students. For example, at the beginning of the course, investigate who your students are and then consciously bring in content and context that will help diverse learners see themselves in positive ways. Also, try to include assessment pieces that are adaptable to diverse learners, even if these elements might be outside your comfort zone. As instructors and designers, we need to have an attitude of a learner: asking for help when we don’t know something. Most institutions have great learning and teaching centres — we spoke to many of them — and it’d be great if more people asked for support to design inclusive online learning resources.”

“We set out to look at digital literacy, access to materials, quality in instruction and resources, and pedagogy,” explained Andrea. “When we conducted the data and research, it was in a pre–COVID-19 context. However, as more dialogue and activity surfaces around remote learning and remote experiences — and how to support students in an online learning environment — we feel the elements from our report are very applicable to the current global situation and support the intentional, evidence-based, and theoretically grounded design of online learning experiences.”

“Too often, equity issues are left at the level of ‘Let’s raise awareness!’” said Heather, “but then we stay locked within the systems that perpetuate inequities. If people can take one inclusive aspect about the design and delivery of their online courses, we can make incremental improvements for all learners.”

“We structured the report,” shared Andrea, “to build utility for people, with practical pieces that people can take away from the report. The executive summary offers a good overview of our findings, and the infographics are designed to help create awareness and action.”

Increased Stress, Decreased Focus

“In stressful situations, such as this global pandemic,” said Heather, “there’s a tendency to drop equity as a priority issue, with some people thinking it’s a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have. But in these situations, the impact is magnified for people who experience marginalization, and it’s even more important to focus on ensuring everyone has access to the resources they need, and equally important to ensure cultural safety is addressed.”

“We’re all adjusting to the new normal,” said Andrea, “and that includes dropped calls, poor audio, and bandwidth limitations. For equity-seeking groups, the new technology issues magnify the existing barriers to online learning. Our research aims to influence institutional policies, professional development, decision making, and strategies for working with educators, instructors, support staff, and students in the area of online learning.”

The Findings 

The researchers have presented the content for accessible readership, with an executive summary and high-level overview providing perspective. Their methodology, key takeaways, literature review, survey results, and future research requirements are also included for those who choose to go deeper into the data.

“‘Who are we leaving out?’ is the question I always ask,” said Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus. “We made a conscious decision to apply for DEI funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation because we knew this was an area where we can facilitate research and initiate dialogue. We invited local researchers to focus on disadvantaged communities, and the information Andrea and Heather have assembled will help educators identify and resolve barriers to online learning. This research was important before the pandemic, and even more so since.”

The complete report is available on the BCcampus reports, reviews, and resources page, along with other information designed for sharing with educators and institutions throughout the province.

Print and Share

Heather and Andrea created a series of infographics for institutions, learning and teaching centres, and educators to print and share, providing smart visuals that highlight the barriers to learning along with evidence-based strategies to overcome them. The issues include:

Please download and share these infographics with your institution to help eliminate the barriers to online learning, one by one.

Notable Quote

“Equity mindedness entails recognizing the ways in which systemic inequities disadvantage people who experience marginalization, critically reflecting on one’s role and responsibilities in addressing inequities and reframing negative outcomes as an indicator of institutional underperformance.” 


—Dr. Frank Harris III and Dr. J. Luke Wood, Equity-Minded and Culturally-Affirming Teaching and Learning Practices in Virtual Learning Communities.

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