BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education: Brian Lamb

This November, we are happy to present the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education to Brian Lamb, director, Learning Technology & Innovation, Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning.

Nominated by Clint Lalonde, project manager, Open Source Homework Systems and Tannis Morgan, researcher, Open Education, at BCcampus

From his groundbreaking work at UBC on wikis and blogs in the 90s, to his leadership role at Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning, Brian continually inspires those who work with him with his tireless commitment and dedication to open education. Brian helped to lead the Northern Voice conference, which was an annual event from 2005 to 2013 that brought together bloggers from all sectors. He is also one of the co-founders of the OpenETC, a collaborative that provides open ed tech tools for B.C. post-secondary faculty and students.

Notable quotes:

“A tireless advocate for students, Brian’s body of work exemplifies the best qualities of open pedagogy, open technologies, privacy advocacy, access, and student autonomy. A leader in open education, both provincially and globally, Brian’s contributions in open education over the years have been invaluable in moving open education forward.”

—Clint Lalonde, project manager, open source homework systems, Open Education, BCcampus

“So much of Brian’s work is open, including the numerous keynotes, presentations, and workshops he has given over the years. Brian is a generous and thoughtful leader in open education and has modelled a way of open thinking and doing for so many of us here in B.C. higher education.”

—Tannis Morgan, researcher, Open Education, BCcampus

“When I think about open education leaders in British Columbia, a prominent name that comes to mind is Brian Lamb. Known for unleashing his “rantometer” against barriers to access and corporatism in education, Brian advocates for open, ethical, community-based approaches to education, especially in connection with learning technology. Along with educators everywhere, students have appreciated and recognized Brian’s leadership in open education. Like his rock band drumming, Brian’s work is hard hitting, right on beat, and impossible to ignore. I offer Brian my heartiest congratulations on receiving this well-deserved award.”

—Irwin DeVries, former TRU colleague and bandmate

For more on Brian, you can visit his blog Abject or follow him on Twitter @brlamb.

Previous honourees: 

Jennifer Kirkey, Rajiv JhangianiCindy UnderhillMichael PaskeviciusMaja KrzicGrant PotterIrwin DeVriesTara RobertsonChristina HendricksTannis MorganInba KehoeDiane PurveyErin Fields, Arley CruthersChad Flinn, Aran ArmutluTerry BergWill EngleFlorence DaddeyBrenda SmithLindsay TrippMary ShierBrad BellDebra FlewellingMichelle HarrisonSally VindenAli de Haan and Sara Humphreys.

Working at BCcampus: Good Times. Great People.

The people at BCcampus have a wide range of lived experience and cultural backgrounds, and this assortment of personalities helps us work together as a community of connection and compassion. We caught up with a few members of the team to find out what life in the (virtual) BCcampus world is like from their perspective.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

BCcampus seems to attract a unique mindset: proactive professionals eager to find innovative ways to support the post-secondary institutions of British Columbia. The 2020 pandemic has brought a ton of stress — some of it work-related, but a fair amount spilling over from our personal lives — and the level of compassion and support for each other has brought the team closer together, enabling everyone to adapt to the new normal and continue providing value to students, faculty, and support teams across the province.

Feeling Appreciated

Katheryna Khong started with BCcampus’ marketing and communications team as a full-time co-op student with a full course load, and she noticed the BCcampus difference right from the start.

“In previous co-ops, I never felt like I was taken seriously,” said Katheryna. “I felt like I was an intern and given the projects other people didn’t want to do. At BCcampus, everyone is really supportive, regardless of your age, gender, or race. I’ve never felt so welcome at an organization, and I’m excited to be here.”

“BCcampus is made out of real people — people who care,” said Selina McGinnis, project lead for user experience/internet architecture at BCcampus. “I’ve had more personal growth than ever before, and professionally, the projects are interesting and always changing. I always feel like the projects are to make somebody’s life better, and that’s what makes being at BCcampus so fulfilling. It’s definitely good for the soul to see the meaningful work we do.”

“My role is to help improve the user experience on our websites, designing and refining our web applications for the end users,” explained Selina. “Our goal is to improve the adoption and findability of the phenomenal resources being created through our programs. I’ve been with BCcampus for just over a year, and from the moment I started, people weren’t shy about giving me things to do and asking my opinion. I feel valued, which is why I choose to continue to work here.”

“A year or so ago, we started a superhero program,” shared Mary Burgess, executive director at BCcampus. “People can nominate anyone, asking the rest of the team if they have anything nice to say about the nominee, and everyone jumps in, saying, ‘Yes, I have a million nice things to say about them.’ We add it to the newsletter so everyone can see how valued that individual is, regardless of where they are in the organization.”

Seriously Fun

Inclusion is integrated into everything we do at BCcampus, even during a global pandemic. The energy and passion from each and every member of the team is almost palpable, whether you’re in the office or online. There’s so much sharing of knowledge and information that it’s virtually impossible to find someone nearby who doesn’t have the resources you need or a contact to connect with. And it’s not a façade of happiness – if anyone needs a moment or a break, they feel comfortable asking for it.

“At BCcampus, we do things together,” shared Katheryna. “There are regular meditation sessions with Mary, fun breakouts with different teams, and awesome activities, like the Scary Games on Zoom that Selina hosted.”

“An enthusiastic team member brought up the idea of playing the Jackbox party games,” explained Selina, “so we set it up to play over Zoom, with the players entering their responses via their smartphones. Everyone was welcome to join in on the trivia games, and for those who prefer to be more private, they had the option of playing as the audience, allowing them to win with their team without stepping too far out of their comfort zone.”

“Meditation has been very helpful for me,” said Mary. “Last January, I set up a weekly meditation session, where anyone could drop into my BlueJeans room. We just sat together — no cams, no mics — for 10 minutes, we listen to the meditation together. And since the pandemic ramped up again last month, we’ve been doing two sessions a week. I’m fascinated by who drops in, because it’s not necessarily who you’d expect to find there, but they see it as a tool that might help them. It’s only 10 minutes once or twice a week, but it makes a big impact.”

Avoiding Burnout

“Erin, our communications manager, does regular check-ins to see how we’re doing mentally and work-wise,” shared Katheryna. “It’s nice to have open communication and support, where you know that someone is ready and willing to lend a hand or an ear, and you’re able to learn as you go. I mentioned that I wanted to write more blogs, and they’ve given me the space to explore and grow, with the support I need to do it well.”

“We try to open things up to let people do what feels good for them,” said Mary. “For example, Selina hosting virtual games is something that’s comfortable for her and allows her to participate in a way that feels good. I want people to feel like they can do that. If there’s something they have to offer that is different than what they’ve seen before, but it feels right for them to interact in that way, I want them to be comfortable with making that happen.”

“Fundamentally, it’s really important that people can bring their whole self to work,” shared Mary. “Those are words, and words like them, that I often say to my team. I want them to feel like they can show up however they are, and be accepted that way. We’re constantly trying to humanize each other because it really helps with compassion and empathy. When we work with compassion and empathy, being curious about what’s happening with other people instead of making assumptions about what’s happening with them, and thus their behaviours, then we’re in a far better position to meet our goals as an organization and as humans.”

Notable Quotes

“There are no ‘stupid questions’ at BCcampus — if you’re asking it, someone else is probably thinking it, so it’s good to bring it into the discussion.”

—Katheryna Khong, marketing and communications assistant, BCcampus

“BCcampus also acknowledges that we can do better. When you’re doing all this good work, there’s the potential to coast, saying, ‘Hey, we’re doing good work,’ but there are always opportunities to improve. We just did an assessment for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and there are definitely places that we need to change. I love that this is baked into what we do at BCcampus.”

—Selina McGinnis, lead UX/IA, BCcampus

Indigenization Guide: Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being

The following is an excerpt from Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors by Ian Cull, Robert L. A. Hancock, Stephanie McKeown, Michelle Pidgeon, and Adrienne Vedan.

While there is great diversity among Indigenous Peoples, there are also some commonalities in Indigenous worldviews and ways of being. Indigenous worldviews see the whole person (physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual) as interconnected to land and in relationship to others (family, communities, nations). This is called a holistic or wholistic view, which is an important aspect of supporting Indigenous students. The Canadian Council of Learning produced State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada: A holistic approach to measuring success [PDF][1] to support diversity of Indigenous knowledges from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives. Across all three of these perspectives, relationships and connections guide the work of supporting Indigenous students.

The Indigenous wholistic framework[2] (Figure 2.2 below) illustrates Indigenous values and ways of being and the direct relationship and connection between academic programs and students services in supporting Indigenous students. Kirkness and Barnhardt (1991) first provided post-secondary institutions with the 4Rs to supporting Indigenous students: respecting Indigenous knowledge, responsible relationships, reciprocity, and relevance. This was further elaborated by Pidgeon with the Indigenous wholistic framework, which is just one of many models that have been used to think about the wholistic student experience, particularly Indigenous student success (Pidgeon, 2012, 2016a). This framework is not meant to be a model that treats all Indigenous Peoples as the same but a model to show how the diversity of Indigenous understandings of place, language, and cultures relates to the individual, faculty, and community, both institutional and Indigenous communities within and outside the institution. An Indigenous learner who is balanced in all realms (physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional) and empowered in terms of who they are as an Indigenous person has their cultural integrity (Tierney & Jun, 2011) not only valued but honoured as they go through their post-secondary journey.

Fig 2.2: Indigenous wholistic framework.

This Indigenous wholistic framework provides guiding principles to ensure post-secondary institutions become accessible, inclusive, safe, and successful places for Indigenous students as follows:


  • Encompasses an understanding of and practicing community protocols.
  • Honours Indigenous knowledges and ways of being.
  • Considers in a reflective and non-judgmental way what is being seen and heard.


  • Is inclusive of students, the institution, and Indigenous communities; also recognizes one’s own connections to various communities.
  • Continually seeks to develop and sustain credible relationships with Indigenous communities. It’s important to be seen in the community as both a supporter and a representative of the institution.
  • Means understanding the potential impact of one’s motives and intentions on oneself and the community.
  • Honours that the integrity of Indigenous people and Indigenous communities must not be undermined or disrespected when working with Indigenous people.


  • Ensures that curricula, services, and programs are responsive to the needs identified by Indigenous students and communities.
  • Involves Indigenous communities in the designing of academic curriculum and student services across the institution to ensure Indigenous knowledge is valued and that the curriculum have culturally appropriate outcomes and assessments.
  • Centres meaningful and sustainable community engagement.


  • Shares knowledge throughout the entire educational process; staff create interdepartmental learning and succession planning between colleagues to ensure practices and knowledge are continued. Shared learning embodies the principle of reciprocity.
  • Means Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are both learning in process together. Within an educational setting, this may mean staff to student; student to student, faculty to staff; each of these relationships honours the knowledge and gifts that each person brings to the classroom, workplace, and institution.
  • Results in all involved within the institution, including the broader Indigenous communities, gain experience in sharing knowledge in a respectful way.
  • Views all participants as students and teachers in the process.

Through this model, front-line staff, advisors, and student services professionals can begin to see the depth and breadth of relationships to support the whole student.

Media Attributions

  • Fig 2.2: Indigenous wholistic framework © M. Pidgeon is licensed under a  CC BY (Attribution) license

  1. State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada: A holistic approach to measuring success: http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/education2/state_of_aboriginal_learning_in_canada-final_report,_ccl,_2009.pdf 
  2. Pidgeon intentionally uses the “w” in holistic for the Indigenous wholistic framework to reference the whole person. Absolon (2009) and Archibald et al. (1995) also intentionally use the term “wholistic.” 

Learn more

BCcampus Open Education Print-on-Demand Guide: Why Print a Textbook – Learning, Literacy, Accessibility

An excerpt from the Print-on-Demand Guide, by Lauri Aesoph

Learning is a complex process that involves acquisition of information through experience, instruction, and study. According to Gagné and Glaser, how well a student learns depends on several factors, such as working memory and academic ability.[1] Learning by reading the printed or digital page taps into even more competencies, including vocabulary, prior subject knowledge, and the speed — and comprehension level — at which one reads.[2] [3]

Some research suggests that choosing to read digital versus physical text can sacrifice a student’s depth of knowledge because of practices characteristic when using a screen: faster reading and extensive scrolling.[4] [5] Adding these effects to the learning challenges experienced by certain students makes the printed page a better choice — or even a necessity — for some.

Learning style

Many faculty and staff have observed that content format influences how well some of their students learn. Jennifer Kirkey, Chair of the Physics Department at Douglas College in British Columbia, says that she has “a small, but significant, number of students for whom print is essential due to problems with reading on the screen.”

Jennifer Stacey, Course Materials Manager for the University of British Columbia Bookstore, points out that learning differences mean that various formats should be made available for students in order to increase accessibility, comprehension, and success.

“Students should be able to access materials that support needs or preferences for how they best learn,” she says, “and, for some students, that means having a print option available.”

Learning English

Adult Basic Education

Shantel Ivits, Department Head of Basic Education at Vancouver Community College, says that having textbooks available in print ensures a level playing field for students who do not own the technology or possess the computer literacy skills to access textbooks online.

“For adult literacy learners who are already working hard to learn to decode text,” explains Ivits, “the online interface adds an extra layer of intimidation and challenge. Printed texts remove this barrier and help make literacy learning a more comfortable experience.”See the Adult Basic Education section of the B.C. Open Textbook Collection.

English language learning and foreign language learning

Learning another language is difficult for most people. In English-speaking countries, like Canada and the United States, we refer to these programs as ELL (English language learning), ESL (English as a second language), and EFL (English as a foreign language). A broader term given to language learning is FLL (foreign language learning). Regardless of the label, the form in which these learning materials are provided can affect the road to fluency.

At the Acsenda School of Management in Vancouver, where over 80 per cent of students come from outside Canada, Ali de Haan, Manager of Library and Instructional Services, says that many international students report feeling more comfortable with a printed book.[6]

“A common bit of feedback I’ve heard,” says Ali, “is that it is easier to understand English in print, and they feel like they can take their time with it. Also, I think there is a comfort factor with print, as many of them haven’t used an eBook in their studies before.” 

This approach can also be applied to students who are native English speakers and learning a foreign language, such as French or Mandarin. In a 2019 paper from Indonesia, Pardede reviewed literature on reading comprehension among ELL students who were using digital text. He reported that, compared to the printed page, online reading requires a complex set of strategies, such as scrolling, navigating, decision making, and visual processing. These demands may result in lower comprehension scores for some students.[7]


Finally, for some students, online resources present accessibility problems. Susan Fleming, Educational Technologist at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, B.C., says she has worked with students who have difficulty reading from a screen for more than a couple of minutes due to visual impairments, visual processing problems (e.g., dyslexia), and visual focusing issues. More specific conditions that can cause problems, says Fleming, include Meares-Irlen Syndrome, which can result in chronic dizziness that can trigger psychiatric issues, and Computer Vision Syndrome.[8]For more information, see the Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition.

  1. Robert M. Gagné and Robert Glaser, “Foundations in Learning Research,” in Instructional Technology: Foundations, ed. Robert M. Gagné (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987), 49–83. 
  2. Peter Afflerbach, ed., Handbook of Individual Differences in Reading: Reader, Text, and Context (New York: Routledge, 2015). 
  3. Steven G. Luke, John M. Henderson, and Fernanda Ferreira, “Children’s Eye-Movements During Reading Reflect the Quality of Lexical Representations: An Individual Differences Approach,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 41, no. 6 (November 2015): 1675–83, https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000133. 
  4. Wolfgang Lenhard, Ulrich Schroeders, and Alexandra Lenhard, “Equivalence of Screen Versus Print Reading Comprehension Depends on Task Complexity and Proficiency,” Discourse Processes 54, no. 5–6 (2017): 427–45, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2017.1319653. 
  5. Maria Giulia Cataldo and Jane Oakhill, “Why Are Poor Comprehenders Inefficient Searchers? An Investigation into the Effects of Text Representation and Spatial Memory on the Ability to Locate Information in Text,” Journal of Educational Psychology 92, no. 4 (2000): 791–799, https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.92.4.791. 
  6. “Admissions,” Acsenda School of Management, accessed March 25, 2020, https://www.acsenda.com/admissions-for-international-business-programs/. 
  7. Parlindungan Pardede, “Print vs Digital Reading Comprehension in EFL,” Journal of English Teaching 5, no. 2 (2019), https://doi.org/10.33541/jet.v5i2.1059. 
  8. American Osteopathic Association, “Chronic Dizziness Can Result from, or Trigger, Psychiatric Disorders: Research Notes Psychiatric Disorders Present in 15 Percent of Patients with Chronic Dizziness,” ScienceDaily, April 30, 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180430102506.htm. 

Learn more:

Is there a soft skills gap in the trades?

Post by Neil Martin, education developer, teaching & learning institute, Selkirk College

Is there a soft skills gap in the trades? Before we attempt to answer that question, we must first understand what we mean by “soft skills” and their overall importance to industry in general. Soft skills are those which are uniquely human and cannot “be taught to machines or delegated to even the smartest robots in today’s manufacturing workplace” (see The Manufacturing Industry is Changing. Are the Workers?). According to the World Economic Forum, of the ten most in-demand skills in 2025, eight of them will be what we would describe as soft skills, five of which fall under the umbrella of problem-solving (see 5 things to know about the future of jobs).

It has been suggested that a Fourth Industrial Revolution in conjunction with a digital transformation is upon us, and “leaders and workers alike need to embrace a work environment that is expected to blend advanced technology and digital skills with uniquely human skills, to yield the highest level of productivity” (see The future of work in manufacturing). Employers clearly attach value to post-secondary qualifications, but they “are unlikely to be impressed by candidates unless they can demonstrate a certain degree of people-skills.” In a recent survey done of 2,000 employers in the U.S. by ManpowerGroup, “over 50% of organizations listed problem-solving, collaboration, customer service, and communication as the most valued skills” (see Does Higher Education Still Prepare People for Jobs?).

It seems very apparent that there is a soft skills gap, period, regardless of what sector we are talking about. But what about the trades sector, specifically?

Well, it seems that workers arrive on the job with sufficient technical skills, due to their training, but “employers are finding a soft skills gap and candidates who lack the ability to do one or more of the following: communicate effectively with others, take leadership on the job, strategize solutions, think creatively, manage unexpected changes, [and] understand the business behind plumbing, electrical, and HVAC service” (see How Soft Skills Can Advance Your Career in the Trades). Speaking specifically of the construction industry, Brandon Kinsey of Houston-based Kinsey Management states, “leaders who focus 100% on tactical skills are missing out on better-suited, well-rounded candidates,” and “organizations that focus on soft skills win” (see Soft Skills Are Building Blocks to Better Teams in the Construction Industry).

If soft skills are what employers are looking for, are schools doing enough to prepare individuals for the workforce? In an article for Auto Service World, Corinne Pohlmann, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s senior vice-president of national affairs, was quoted as saying, “Schools at the secondary and post-secondary level tend to be more focused on preparing youth for higher education instead of work. Too many young people enter the workforce without the critical soft skills employers look for, putting them at a serious disadvantage when they look for that foundational first job” (see ‘Soft skills’ lacking in young workers, report finds).

Are colleges that provide trades training bucking the trend and focusing on the critical soft skills that employers are looking for? In British Columbia, trades training is offered by a number of colleges and managed by the Industry Training Authority (ITA). Historically, ITA program outlines did not include clear objectives focusing on soft skills. Through the Harmonization process within the skilled trades, general soft skills within apprenticeship are beginning to be included in new program outlines. Undoubtedly, individual instructors throughout the province recognize the importance of soft skills and make a concerted effort to develop these skills within the ITA framework.

Program frameworks don’t need to include courses on soft skills, as these skills are not developed in a vacuum. The development of soft skills must be integrated throughout programs and become as integral as the development of technical skills. They can’t be viewed as add-ons, or something we do if we have time. We can’t simply add a course called “Soft Skills” and think that that will address the issue. The development of soft skills needs to become an overarching outcome of every trades program, and clearly articulated learning objectives must be added to program outlines. Instructors don’t need extensive training to help students develop soft skills, as soft skill development comes as a result of practice. Students will become better problem solvers when given the opportunity to solve problems!

The need for a shift in the way we prepare our students for the working world is upon us, and it is incumbent on us to formally integrate soft skill development into our trades training programs.

Additional Resources:

Learn more:

The Apathy Gap in the Skilled Trades

As I walked into this latest event, I could tell this was going to be a different experience from last time: circular tables, the room lined with people, and at each table, a skilled trades representative from different trades departments within my institution. I was soon to embark on a one-hour whirlwind of elevator pitches to high school counsellors and coordinators about why the skilled trades is a viable option for post-secondary education.

Post by Tim Carson, open education advisor, trades representative at BCcampus

In that hour, during which I had time to briefly explain why I chose the trades and what that choice meant for me, I came to the realization that, although the skilled trades have historically been considered a consolation prize for some in the K–12 system, others just simply do not know what they do not know. Hence, the term “apathy gap.”

To be fair, the term “apathy” can bring a negative connotation to the conversation. After all, if you do not really care about a situation or topic, one may deduce that you are simply being apathetic. Merriam-Webster defines apathy as either “lack of feeling or emotion” or “lack of interest or concern.”

Could it really be true that people have a lack of feeling, interest, or concern about the skilled trades? Possibly. Over the last several decades, we have seen significant growth within the post-secondary education sector as more and more high school graduates are looking to college and university as the gateway to their goals. I believe the lack of concern for the trades is a mixture of false information and a lack of information overall.

One Simple Thing Can Change Everything

I remember one conversation I had with a high school shop teacher whose class was in danger of being cancelled because of a lack of enrolment. He told me that, in one last-ditch effort to boost enrolment before the class was cancelled, he made a change. The change had a sweeping effect, and he reported that the students had a great experience. His solution seems too simple to have worked, yet it proved the point that some just do not know what they do not know.

The solution? He changed the title of the class to include the word “engineering.” Within a week, the class was at capacity. He made the change three years ago, and the class has been full every semester since.

During the event at which I shared my elevator pitch with those counsellors, one comment became the theme of the event for me: “I can’t believe we haven’t heard of this before. Our students need to know this is an option for them.”

The Same Three Questions

Not unlike other professions, questions arise regarding my experience within the skilled trades. In my experience, most, if not all, these questions essentially can be reduced to three common concerns.

How long does it take to graduate?

Each apprenticeship is different in its duration, but the common length of an apprenticeship in Canada is four years. Some are shorter, and given some different contexts, a few are longer. Usually, the one asking this question is already comparing what I have said to the length of a university or college experience.

What can I expect to make as a tradesperson?

Again, this is contextual. One source listed the median wage for plumbers to be in the neighbourhood of $70,000 per year. Often, people are shocked out of their apathy when they hear these numbers. They are also surprised to hear that this is a low number for journeypeople. In many cases, tradespeople can command a higher wage, due in part to their individual expertise, but also in part to the shortage of skilled tradespeople across the country. A recent article quoted the Ontario Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development as saying, “Ontario is facing a looming problem. Our skilled tradespeople are retiring faster than we can replace them.”

The Vancouver Regional Construction Association recently reported that, “Based on historical trends, we can anticipate that 4,900 new workers under the age of 30 will enter the Lower Mainland industry [over the next two years], leaving a shortfall of nearly 7,300 workers by late 2021. The shortfall is forecast to be nearly 17,500 workers by 2029.”

How hard is the work?

Make no mistake, the skilled trades require hard work and dedication. Roughly four years of on-the-job training combined with four cycles of technical training where 70 per cent is the passing grade can be daunting for many. Many of the skilled trades require some form of physical work, often times exposing oneself to environmental elements all year round.

What can be done?

Quite simply, I believe one of the biggest impacts on the system would be to advocate more openly and courageously for the skilled trades. Trades should not be considered a consolation prize for those “deemed” unable to enter the university or college pathways.

A shift in mindset will make all the difference in the world. Not everyone I talk with wants to become a tradesperson, and yet not everyone I talk with wants to pursue university or college as their pathway to success.

Contextual? Perhaps. Yet the potential of earning a decent wage while you are learning valuable and transferrable skills cannot be overlooked.

The skilled trades are not for all. But for those who choose them, they can constitute a very rewarding and fulfilling career path. The growth trajectories are almost limitless.

The Story Continues…

Not everyone came back to shake my hand at the end of the event, but those who did remarked upon the very things I have shared in this piece. Over the following months, I received emails and phone calls from students looking into the potential of a trades education. Some of those high school students went on to become graduates of my program. They are supporting themselves and their families because of a change in their own apathy gap.

The skilled trades are not for everyone: it takes courage and discipline to become a tradesperson. Although the trades can make for a hard life, it is also a rewarding life. People should know there is another option besides university or college and should be given the information to help make an informed decision. More students need to hear an earnest trades elevator pitch so we can move toward reducing the apathy gap.


Learn more:

25 Years of Ed Tech – The Series

An all-star cast of international educators and ed tech experts has come together to create a serialized reading of Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech. The podcast of the same name, coordinated by BCcampus’ Clint Lalonde, will air weekly beginning Monday, November 2. A bonus series, called Between the Chapters and hosted by Laura Pasquini, will release a new episode each Thursday.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

For the next half year or so, anyone interested in educational technology will have a new podcast to enjoy on a weekly basis, with a supplemental podcast — a quasi-virtual-book club — to explore each chapter of Martin Weller’s openly published eBook, 25 Years of Ed Tech. The podcasts aren’t just for people in ed tech: there are many parallels between the rise of the internet and the development of ed tech, so if you enjoy technology and you’ve been around for a while, you’ll get something out of it.

Martin Weller, director of the Open Education Research Hub and the Global OER Graduate Network, is a familiar voice to those in the educational technology space, with a blog that reaches back to early 2006 and a Twitter following of over 11,000 fans of ed tech and open (see Martin Weller’s Twitter). His book was released in February, when the world was still widely unaware of what the coming months would do to everything, especially — but not exclusively — to online education.

To share the story of 25 Years of Ed Tech, Clint Lalonde, project manager at BCcampus, coordinated a host of talented ed tech professionals from around the world, with each narrating a portion of the book. On the project’s format, he said, “We went with 25 people to narrate the 25 chapters, giving us a diversity of voices and a wealth of understanding around these topics.”

25 Years of Ed Tech: The Podcast

“Within the field of educational technology,” explained Clint, “there’s a feeling that we don’t remember our own history. We see this pattern repeated where things that are new and innovative, or presented as new or innovative, are actually not that new, nor innovative. In many cases, there’s been a deep, rich history of research and work that has taken place earlier, but we either forget about it or discount its value.

“A great example was when massive online open courses (MOOCs) hit in 2012. They became huge, virtually overnight. All of a sudden, the world discovered this new form of learning — online learning — but people had been doing this for many years before. There was this great rush to this shiny new thing, but people weren’t learning the lessons of the past, and they were making the same mistakes that had already been solved. And we just saw this again this spring, as everyone converted to online for COVID-19. In the pivot, there was this new thing called online learning, with people reinventing the wheel while ignoring over thirty years of available research and experience. I think it’s essential that we pay attention to our history, and Martin’s book presents it in a nice and accessible way.”

In a post sharing his excitement about the audible interpretation of his book, Martin wrote: “It’s been very exciting and humbling to see so many people I admire donate their time to this project. It’s interesting to hear other people speak the chapters as this sometimes puts a different slant on them to the one I had in mind, which gives it a new life. I always wanted the book to be a starting point — like those 100 best film lists, it’s not intended to be definitive but rather a means of having discussion. The audiobook combined with the podcasts does exactly that.” To read the rest of Martin’s post, see Audiobook version of 25 Years on The Ed Techie blog.

Clint has set up the podcast to ensure it’s available as far and wide as possible.

“We’re using a backend called Transistor to syndicate with all of the major podcast platforms, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, and more,” says Clint. “Whatever podcast tool you use, you’ll be able to find our podcast as it is released. And if you’re old school and know how to set up your RSS feed, you can get the notification right from the website. We also have a Twitter account, @YearsEd, so you can follow it there, too.”

Between the Chapters

Laura Pasquini, learning experience designer and community developer at Amazon, is an accomplished podcaster, and in early discussions with Clint about the audiobook, she suggested that they create a bonus series to explore and dissect what was shared in the previous chapter episodes.

“The bonus episodes,” shared Laura, “from this podcast will hopefully enlighten people as to where these chapters came from and what Martin was thinking about. Some of the people who narrated a chapter are also in the companion podcast, giving their perspective on the content they discussed, from wikis to the web to blogs and more. I’m really excited for people to hear more about it.”

“We are still in the process of recording the sessions,” continued Laura. “This will run until May of next year, so there’s an opportunity to bring in more voices in the coming months. I have some folx on my wish list and a calendar tool that gives flexibility for people around the world. Everyone is really busy right now, so I’m grateful for everyone who has made the time to commit to being part of the chapter discussion.”

Between the Chapters is a reflection of what we hoped would happen with the book,” said Laura. “Our goal is for it to become a springboard for folx to come back and have a conversation with us, leave us a comment, tweet back at us, or include us in their own talkback podcast. We’ll welcome those ideas and discussions, and we’re grateful that Martin has made it possible for us to share and build on his initial publication. It’s like the book is a living document that we read and can add to. The podcast is just a piece of it, and we hope the people in the community will continue to add to it, sharing their voice and learning from one another as we talk about these ideas, issues, technologies, and the places and spaces  we were in around the world: looking at the learning at that time and what it means now. Nothing has really changed, and we know that we can learn from lessons of the past in our current circumstances today.”

The Affordance of Open

Martin Weller published this book with Athabasca University Press under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which made it possible for Clint and company to create the podcast series. This is such a phenomenal example of what can happen when we embrace open and allow others to take our ideas and help them grow, thus delivering them to more people and across more channels while eliminating barriers to access.

“There were some great things made possible through open in this project,” shared Laura, “like the music in the podcasts via ccMixter, the fun cover art remixer from @visualthinkery, and all of the artwork that we’ve used for the podcast website and social media.”

Notable Quotes

“If it is not already true, then in 25 years it certainly will be, that all learning is technology-enhanced learning. This establishes an onus on educators, universities, and learners themselves to critically reflect on the role of that technology.”

—Martin Weller, professor of educational technology at the Open University and author of 25 Years of Ed Tech

“There’s a theme of continuity, where even though some of the technology of yesteryear didn’t achieve what we’d hoped for it, we still realized some powerful learnings from working with it, whether that was good digital literacy skills or other takeaways. It’s an evolution, and these podcasts do a great job of tracking how we’ve gotten to this point to do the work we do.”

—Clint Lalonde, project manager, Open Homework Systems, BCcampus

“As part of my editing process, I listen to the recording and check out the materials shared by the guest narrator, whether it was an article, website, resource, an idea, or a project someone finished. I add these to the show notes because some people will listen to the episode, but others might just review the notes to find the resources. It’s a fun way to give us a multimedia experience: sound, reading, and video.”

—Laura Pasquini, learning experience designer and program manager, Amazon

Learn More:

Indigenization Guide: Reconciliation

The following is a combination of two chapters excerpted from Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors by Ian Cull, Robert L. A. Hancock, Stephanie McKeown, Michelle Pidgeon, and Adrienne Vedan.

Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem – it involves all of us.

– Chief Justice Murray Sinclair (CBC, 2015)


Reconciliation is about addressing past wrongs done to Indigenous Peoples, making amends, and improving relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to create a better future for all.

The work of Indigenization is a growing focus in this era of reconciliation, which has been driven forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), a multi-year investigation of the residential school system. The TRC gathered information in a variety of ways about the historical and contemporary injustices toward Indigenous Peoples from across the nation. The release of the Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future: Summary of Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June of 2015 marked an important moment in the history of Canada. In the context of reconciliation, Indigenization is one way in which we can contribute to working toward a stronger shared future as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The report, with its 94 Calls to Action, emphasizes the need for education to play a key role in service of justice and resurgence of Indigenous Peoples, and Indigenous communities are looking at post-secondary institutions to be leaders in responding to the TRC Calls to Action and in working to support Indigenous education in meaningful, concrete, and sustainable ways. Essential to this work is placing Indigenous perspectives at the centre of the work being done, or, as Marie Battiste has said, “Nothing about us without us” (quoted in Cote-Meek, 2017). It means we are moving towards processes of truth and reconciliation and transforming the educational system into spaces that are inclusive, respectful, and honour Indigenous people.

Given the colonial context of Canadian education, there is work to be done to decolonize our policies and practices to de-centre Western approaches and being to re-centre Indigenous ways of knowing, being, learning, and teaching. Mindful of the need for truth and reconciliation, this work is guided by a relatively straightforward question:

Are we making the institution a better place for those who come after us? 

While the recent context of reconciliation has brought new levels of attention to this work, we acknowledge the long history of Indigenous faculty and staff and allies in supporting Indigenous students and advocating for change within institutions, and respectfully working to empower Indigenous communities.

Moving Forward, Reconciling Intent, Purpose, and Practice

Moving forward means ongoing self-reflection and assessment of one’s own individual roles and responsibilities to supporting Indigenous students, and the following sections will guide you through this process. Moving forward also must come with clear financial and human resources support to provide ongoing professional development opportunities and targeted hiring practices.

When surveyed, BC Aboriginal post-secondary coordinators indicated that hiring Indigenous people in student services and other front-line services as the most supportive way to help with Indigenization in an institution.

Front-line services also require a way to transform institutional culture so the values of Indigenization continue. Too often, champions who initiate Indigenized practices and relationships are recognized as innovators to the department and institution; very rarely do these practices and relationships become common procedure or guiding policy. When the champion retires or changes jobs, the practice and relationship ceases. Staff engaging in this decolonizing, Indigenizing, and reconciliation practice need to be supported in their intentions, and they need to have space and time to discuss the challenges and celebrate areas of growth and success.

Becoming an ally

Acknowledging the overt and systemic forms of racism and discrimination within public post-secondary institutions is a core part of decolonization. It’s also important to understand that by shifting individual mindsets and practices, we can make structural changes in institutional cultures, policies, and programs, thus Indigenizing the institution and ourselves. Becoming an ally is an important practice that addresses how to do this.

An ally is someone from a privileged group who is aware of how oppression works and struggles alongside members of an oppressed group to take action to end oppression. Anne Bishop explains:

Allies are people who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns. Allies include men who work to end sexism, white people who work to end racism, heterosexual people who work to end heterosexism, able-bodied people who work to end ableism, and so on. Part of becoming an ally is also recognizing one’s own experience of oppression. For example, a white woman can learn from her experience of sexism and apply it in becoming an ally to people of colour, or a person who grew up in poverty can learn from that experience how to respect others’ feelings of helplessness because of a disability.

If you are a non-Indigenous person engaged in the work of Indigenization, you can better understand your role in this movement as being an ally to Indigenous people. An ally:

  • does not put their own needs, interests, and goals ahead of the Indigenous people they are working with.
  • has self-awareness of their own identity, privilege, and role in challenging oppression.
  • is engaged in continual learning and reflection about Indigenous cultures and history.

Learn More: