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BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education: Brenda Smith

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

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

Brenda Smith

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

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

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

Notable quote:

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

Learn more: 

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

BCcampus Open Education Working Group Guide: Informal or Formal?

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

Informal or formal working groups

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

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

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

Informal working groups

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

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

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

Formal working groups

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

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

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

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

Formal group structures have a number of advantages:

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

Formal group structures also pose challenges:

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

In Practice

KPU: A changing role for the working group

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

BCIT: Formal at the top

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

UBC: Informal by design

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

SFU: Start up

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

Emily Carr

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

Capilano

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

Learn more:

Indigenization Guide: Acknowledging Traditional Territories

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

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

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

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

Media Attributions

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

Learn more:

An Education in Electronic Health Records

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

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

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

Who benefits?

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

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

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

Current status

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

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

Notable quote:

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

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

Learn more:

BCcampus Holiday Closure

BCcampus offices will be closed between December 23, 2019 and January 1, 2020 inclusive. Limited IT Support will be available on January 2 and 3, 2020. Normal office hours resume on January 6, 2020.

From our team to you, we wish you a peaceful and renewing end to 2019. See you next year!

BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education: Florence Daddey

Florence Daddey smiling

The 18th recipient of the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education is Florence Daddey, a tireless advocate for open education at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC). She has adopted and adapted open textbooks for the courses she teaches and has been instrumental in weaving open education advocacy into faculty development activities at JIBC.

Nominated by Krista Lambert, Project Manager for ABE/Health Zero Textbook Cost Programs and Environmental Scan for Early Childhood Education (ECE), BCcampus

Florence was a 2018/19 BCcampus Open Education Advocacy and Research Fellow, conducting research on student savings on textbooks in the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma (LESD) program at JIBC and leading the Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) initiative for this program.

Florence has been instrumental in establishing open education faculty development opportunities by taking the lead on the recent JIBC Open Ed Showcase, which brought together B.C. open education leaders in a conference format to share and learn about open educational practices. She has organized numerous open ed workshops and lunch and learns. In addition, she initiated and led the JIBC open education working group in 2018 and spearheaded JIBC’s successful application for a BCcampus OpenEd Sustainability Grant.

As a faculty member at JIBC, Florence has adopted open textbooks in both her research methods and her project management courses. She has led research into student use of open resources and has championed student participation in workshops and presentations related to this research. Florence is also a member of the BCcampus Open Education Advisory Board, the BCcampus Advisory Committee, and the BCcampus Business ZTC Advisory Committee.

Notable quote:

“Florence leads by example in both using OER for her own teaching and conducting open research as well as tirelessly building awareness at the Institute through community building efforts such as forming an Open Education Group and organizing the JIBC Open Education Showcase.” – Melanie Meyers, Open Education Advisor, BCcampus 

Research

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

The Inside Scoop on Festival of Learning 2020

The party people at BCcampus have been super busy preparing everything for the upcoming Festival of Learning 2020. Our goal is to build on the success of the 2018 Festival, and we have some great things lined up for the post-secondary community of B.C. Here’s a quick look at what you can expect at #FoL2020.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Registration for Festival of Learning 2020 is now open, and while the event is scheduled for May 11–13, 2020, we’re already busy behind the scenes getting everything ready for another phenomenal event. We proudly hosted the first Festival of Learning in 2016, and then again in 2018, and we’re eager to connect with friends and colleagues at #FoL2020 in May. Festival of Learning is B.C.’s largest conference about learning and teaching in higher education.

Disruption and transformation

This year’s theme is Disruption and Transformation: how are we intentionally disrupting our work at an individual, institutional, or societal level, and what prompts us to transform practices, policies, or processes?

“We’re exploring inclusive approaches to change the way people see and access post-secondary education,” shared Tracy Roberts, senior manager, Learning + Teaching at BCcampus. “By inviting everyone—faculty, students, leaders, librarians, learning designers, educational technologists, and accessibility specialists—to events like this to network and learn, we can build positive change together in service of all students and their learning.”

Universal access

No conversation would be complete without representation from everyone involved, so we’ve worked hard to ensure that everyone interested can attend #FoL2020. We’ve partnered with Disability Resource Network of B.C. for Post-Secondary Education to deliver a space that welcomes presenters and participants from all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, abilities, cultures, sexual orientations, genders, languages, ages, and religions, as well as those identifying as neurodivergent. However you self-identify, we’re looking forward to including your voice in the experience. 

What can you expect at #FoL2020?

The #FoL2020 program committee is currently working on the schedule of events. The call for submissions has just ended, so now they’re working on the hard part of trying to include all of the brilliant submissions into the agenda. 

Keynote speakers

We are excited to hear from our two keynote speakers at #FoL2020: Kevin Lamoureux and Jess Mitchell.

Kevin Lamoureux is a faculty member at the University of Winnipeg and a well-known public speaker. He has served as associate vice president for the University of Winnipeg, education lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and as scholar-in-residence for several school divisions. Lamoureux is an award-winning scholar with an impressive publication and research grant record and has consulted for governments, organizations, and institutions across Canada. His most recent book contribution, for Ensouling Our Schoolswith Dr. Jennifer Katz, is being used by educators across Canada working to create inclusive spaces for all students. He has been seen on TV, in documentaries, in print, and in the media. More than anything, Lamoureux is committed to reconciliation and contributing to an even better Canada for all children to grow up in.

Jess Mitchell is senior manager, Research + Design at the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University in Toronto—which is a meaningless title that tells you virtually nothing about her. Here’s what you need to know: Jess is often a misfit, values a critical perspective, and appreciates the messy parts of human interaction. Additionally, she has a fondness for things in threes and a background in ethics.

We’re hammering out the details on a third keynote and hope to have something to share with you very soon.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hang out with people who understand what you do and why you do it. Register now and take advantage of the early bird pricing. 

Learning Access Program for Educators (LAP-E)

Recognizing that budget limitations are a reality for some institutions, and it’s not possible to take advantage of every professional development opportunity, BCcampus has included #FoL2020 in our LAP-E program. The program provides financial assistance with registration fees, as well as travel, per diem, and accommodation costs. Only one person per institution per event, so register today to benefit from this program.

Learn more

Bridging the accessibility gap with VR

Derek Turner is a faculty member at Douglas College in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. In this blog post, Derek introduces us to his research as a 2019–2020 BCcampus Educational Technology Fellow, and his investigation of how new and existing technology platforms might be used for virtual reality (VR) field trips, bringing these experiential learning opportunities to those who haven’t traditionally been able to use them.

Field work is an essential part of the educational experience for students of environmental science, geology, and many other natural sciences. Yes, it’s important for learning concepts, but it’s even more important for connecting the content to their daily lives and inspiring them to consider these fields as possible career paths. A few years ago, when I started a post-doctoral position at UBC, one of the challenges we faced with field trips was how to continue to offer these valuable experiential learning opportunities in the face of decreasing budgets and increasing student-to-faculty ratios and liability concerns. We started experimenting with different technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality (VR), not as a replacement for traditional field trips, but as ways to help students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get outside of the classroom travel to places beyond the reach of most normal field trips.

First, let me start by saying that much of what I’ll describe here is not really VR. Merriam-Webster defines VR as being “an artificial environment … in which one’s actions partially determine what happens.” Some of the technologies that market themselves as VR do just that and allow fully immersive, interactive environments. Many others are more passive, letting users watch a 360odisplay with limited to no interaction. As we started experimenting with using these different technologies for education, we found that there are many more differences between the types of VR beyond the user experience. There are practical concerns for educators, such as the cost of more advanced VR technology and the challenges of having large classes interact with it, often one student at a time. Then there are also pedagogical questions, like what content exists for students to interact with, and if there isn’t much available, how easy is it to create new content designed for a specific course?

These choices have led me to identify two broad families of VR: “high tech” and “low tech.” High-tech VR, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, offer highly immersive and interactive environments that, when well done, truly can come close to simulating the real experience of being in a remote location. However, they are also expensive, especially when factoring in the need for a computer with a good graphics card and the potential need for more than one unit if you want to have large classes interact with it. Perhaps a bigger obstacle currently is the lack of educational content readily available. There is certainly a growing number of pre-made environments, but unless you’re lucky, few if any of these provide high quality, discipline-specific content needed for a proper field trip. To help address this problem, I was fortunate to be a part of a large BCcampus-funded project to virtually recreate a field trip on the environmental history of Stanley Park. While the end product turned out great and has been a valuable tool for opening access to this field trip for my environmental sciences classes, it isn’t something that can easily be replicated by individual faculty members without an advanced understanding of photogrammetry and VR technology (and a lot of time to put it all together!).

The alternative, low-tech VR options (which admittedly are not actually VR at all by the definition above) offer a lower cost and more accessible alternative. These include phone-mounted basic VR headsets or online platforms viewable from a computer screen that show 360ovideos or photospheres (360oimages). While these technologies are certainly less immersive and limited in how students can interact with them, they provide one significant advantage besides the cost: the ease of creating new content. For a few hundred dollars, faculty can purchase a portable 360ocamera that can be brought to remote locations to capture images and video. These can then later be embedded with other multimedia, such as close-up photos, videos, website links, or narration. This also opens the possibility of having students create their own virtual environments. To use a geoscience example, students could create a 360otour stop of a potential environmental hazard in their community that could be shared with the class or the general public. It’s for these reasons that I’ve leaned towards this type of VR technology, but I continue to experiment with versions of both.

As these decisions started to guide my experience using VR in classrooms, I moved from UBC to Douglas College. With this change in educational contexts came new challenges for offering field trips. With smaller classes, some of the problems faced by UBC are less of an issue at Douglas. However, I also found that more of my current students were unable to come on field trips due to weekend jobs or family commitments. To bridge this accessibility gap, I started using similar technology that had helped deliver field trips to larger classes to instead open access to students who couldn’t experience a field trip because they had families or couldn’t miss a work shift. With the support of my colleagues in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, we have since built multiple low-tech VR field trips to increase access to field experiences for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate.

The more I’ve used these education technologies, the more two questions have bothered me:

  • If field trips are powerful tools to stimulate interest in and motivate students to pursue the natural sciences (i.e.,affective learning), what, if any, affective learning benefits do VR field trips provide?
  • Are there any differences in any affective learning benefits between different types of VR technology?

An increasing body of research has started exploring the cognitive benefits of VR in and outside of the geosciences (e.g., Freina and Ott, 2015; Billingsley et al., 2019), but few studies have explored the affective learning benefits (e.g., the interests, attitudes and values students have for a subject; Krathwohl et al., 1964), and none that I’ve found have looked at how these might vary between types of VR technologies. These are important questions to ask to help guide faculty like myself in choosing whether to invest time and money in high-tech VR, low-tech VR, or neither. These were two questions that were holding me back from expanding what we could build with VR.

This is where BCcampus has been a vital part of this journey. The leadership provided by BCcampus in education technology and open educational resources has helped shape my understanding of how best to apply and distribute VR field trips. The funding associated with my BCcampus Educational Technology Fellowship has allowed me the resources to begin to explore both questions. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the community that has grown around BCcampus both formally and informally has been an excellent resource for sharing ideas and stretching me beyond my comfort zone.

With this BCcampus support, our department is currently surveying our students before and after every field trip they take, whether they are traditional in-person field trips, high-tech VR field trips, or low-tech VR field trips, as well as tracking changes in students who don’t go on field trips as a control group to see how much affective learning takes place purely in the classroom. The literature on evaluating affective learning in traditional field trips is fortunately robust and well-developed, so we have been able to use existing surveys and experimental designs (e.g., Boyle et al., 2007; Glynn et al., 2011) with modifications to accommodate the incorporation of VR technology. Cognitive learning gains are also being tracked to compare to the affective learning benefits to get a more complete picture of how and if students are benefiting from different types of trips.

The preliminary results of this work are clearly showing that certain demographics benefit more from including the option to go on VR field trips. For example, international students and mature students show a preference for having a VR field trip option and experience greater affective learning gains compared to domestic students and younger students. Some of the qualitative answers to the survey questions suggest that international students may benefit from being able to hear field trip narration multiple times, rather than trying to hear a fast-speaking instructor talking into the wind in the field. Mature students may prefer a VR option due to the higher likelihood of having children, jobs, or other time commitments on weekends.

While I should highlight that these VR technologies have never been meant to replace the kinds of experiential learning offered by an in-person field trip, this early work indicates that the types of students who may benefit from them are exactly the types of students whom we are actively trying to engage with more in geoscience. The potential to open access to field work to demographics who are typically limited in our discipline is an exciting and unexpected outcome of the early stages of this research. This project started out about experimenting with new educational technologies, but seems to be evolving more into how to provide access to educational opportunities to students who were previously marginalized by field trips. To me, this is not only a welcome change, but one that inspires me to continue this work to find new ways of opening field trips to new students.

References:

Billingsley, G., Smith, S., Smith, S., Meritt, J., 2019. A systematic literature review of using immersive virtual reality technology in teacher education. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 30 (1), 65–90.

Boyle, A., Maguire, S., Martin, A., Milson, C., Nash, R., Rawlinson, S., Turner, A., Wurthmann, S., Conchie, S., 2007. Fieldwork is good: the student perception and the affective domain. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 31 (2), 299–317.

Freina, L., Ott, M., 2015. A literature review on immersive virtual reality in education: state of the art and perspectives. Conference eLearning and Software for Education. https://ppm.itd.cnr.it/download/eLSE%202015%20Freina%20Ott%20Paper.pdf

Glynn, S.M., Brickman, P., Armstrong, N., Taasoobshirazi, G., 2011. Science Motivation Questionnaire II: validation with science majors and nonscience majors. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48 (10), 1159–1176.

Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., Masia, B.B., 1964. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook II: Affective Domain. David McKay Company, Inc. New York.

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Bridging the accessibility gap with VR

Derek Turner is a faculty member at Douglas College in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. In this blog post, Derek introduces us to his research as a 2019–2020 BCcampus Educational Technology Fellow, and his investigation of how new and existing technology platforms might be used for virtual reality (VR) field trips, bringing these experiential learning opportunities to those who haven’t traditionally been able to use them.

Field work is an essential part of the educational experience for students of environmental science, geology, and many other natural sciences. Yes, it’s important for learning concepts, but it’s even more important for connecting the content to their daily lives and inspiring them to consider these fields as possible career paths. A few years ago, when I started a post-doctoral position at UBC, one of the challenges we faced with field trips was how to continue to offer these valuable experiential learning opportunities in the face of decreasing budgets and increasing student-to-faculty ratios and liability concerns. We started experimenting with different technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality (VR), not as a replacement for traditional field trips, but as ways to help students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get outside of the classroom travel to places beyond the reach of most normal field trips.

First, let me start by saying that much of what I’ll describe here is not really VR. Merriam-Webster defines VR as being “an artificial environment … in which one’s actions partially determine what happens.” Some of the technologies that market themselves as VR do just that and allow fully immersive, interactive environments. Many others are more passive, letting users watch a 360odisplay with limited to no interaction. As we started experimenting with using these different technologies for education, we found that there are many more differences between the types of VR beyond the user experience. There are practical concerns for educators, such as the cost of more advanced VR technology and the challenges of having large classes interact with it, often one student at a time. Then there are also pedagogical questions, like what content exists for students to interact with, and if there isn’t much available, how easy is it to create new content designed for a specific course?

These choices have led me to identify two broad families of VR: “high tech” and “low tech.” High-tech VR, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, offer highly immersive and interactive environments that, when well done, truly can come close to simulating the real experience of being in a remote location. However, they are also expensive, especially when factoring in the need for a computer with a good graphics card and the potential need for more than one unit if you want to have large classes interact with it. Perhaps a bigger obstacle currently is the lack of educational content readily available. There is certainly a growing number of pre-made environments, but unless you’re lucky, few if any of these provide high quality, discipline-specific content needed for a proper field trip. To help address this problem, I was fortunate to be a part of a large BCcampus-funded project to virtually recreate a field trip on the environmental history of Stanley Park. While the end product turned out great and has been a valuable tool for opening access to this field trip for my environmental sciences classes, it isn’t something that can easily be replicated by individual faculty members without an advanced understanding of photogrammetry and VR technology (and a lot of time to put it all together!).

The alternative, low-tech VR options (which admittedly are not actually VR at all by the definition above) offer a lower cost and more accessible alternative. These include phone-mounted basic VR headsets or online platforms viewable from a computer screen that show 360ovideos or photospheres (360oimages). While these technologies are certainly less immersive and limited in how students can interact with them, they provide one significant advantage besides the cost: the ease of creating new content. For a few hundred dollars, faculty can purchase a portable 360ocamera that can be brought to remote locations to capture images and video. These can then later be embedded with other multimedia, such as close-up photos, videos, website links, or narration. This also opens the possibility of having students create their own virtual environments. To use a geoscience example, students could create a 360otour stop of a potential environmental hazard in their community that could be shared with the class or the general public. It’s for these reasons that I’ve leaned towards this type of VR technology, but I continue to experiment with versions of both.

As these decisions started to guide my experience using VR in classrooms, I moved from UBC to Douglas College. With this change in educational contexts came new challenges for offering field trips. With smaller classes, some of the problems faced by UBC are less of an issue at Douglas. However, I also found that more of my current students were unable to come on field trips due to weekend jobs or family commitments. To bridge this accessibility gap, I started using similar technology that had helped deliver field trips to larger classes to instead open access to students who couldn’t experience a field trip because they had families or couldn’t miss a work shift. With the support of my colleagues in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, we have since built multiple low-tech VR field trips to increase access to field experiences for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate.

The more I’ve used these education technologies, the more two questions have bothered me:

  • If field trips are powerful tools to stimulate interest in and motivate students to pursue the natural sciences (i.e.,affective learning), what, if any, affective learning benefits do VR field trips provide?
  • Are there any differences in any affective learning benefits between different types of VR technology?

An increasing body of research has started exploring the cognitive benefits of VR in and outside of the geosciences (e.g., Freina and Ott, 2015; Billingsley et al., 2019), but few studies have explored the affective learning benefits (e.g., the interests, attitudes and values students have for a subject; Krathwohl et al., 1964), and none that I’ve found have looked at how these might vary between types of VR technologies. These are important questions to ask to help guide faculty like myself in choosing whether to invest time and money in high-tech VR, low-tech VR, or neither. These were two questions that were holding me back from expanding what we could build with VR.

This is where BCcampus has been a vital part of this journey. The leadership provided by BCcampus in education technology and open educational resources has helped shape my understanding of how best to apply and distribute VR field trips. The funding associated with my BCcampus Educational Technology Fellowship has allowed me the resources to begin to explore both questions. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the community that has grown around BCcampus both formally and informally has been an excellent resource for sharing ideas and stretching me beyond my comfort zone.

With this BCcampus support, our department is currently surveying our students before and after every field trip they take, whether they are traditional in-person field trips, high-tech VR field trips, or low-tech VR field trips, as well as tracking changes in students who don’t go on field trips as a control group to see how much affective learning takes place purely in the classroom. The literature on evaluating affective learning in traditional field trips is fortunately robust and well-developed, so we have been able to use existing surveys and experimental designs (e.g., Boyle et al., 2007; Glynn et al., 2011) with modifications to accommodate the incorporation of VR technology. Cognitive learning gains are also being tracked to compare to the affective learning benefits to get a more complete picture of how and if students are benefiting from different types of trips.

The preliminary results of this work are clearly showing that certain demographics benefit more from including the option to go on VR field trips. For example, international students and mature students show a preference for having a VR field trip option and experience greater affective learning gains compared to domestic students and younger students. Some of the qualitative answers to the survey questions suggest that international students may benefit from being able to hear field trip narration multiple times, rather than trying to hear a fast-speaking instructor talking into the wind in the field. Mature students may prefer a VR option due to the higher likelihood of having children, jobs, or other time commitments on weekends.

While I should highlight that these VR technologies have never been meant to replace the kinds of experiential learning offered by an in-person field trip, this early work indicates that the types of students who may benefit from them are exactly the types of students whom we are actively trying to engage with more in geoscience. The potential to open access to field work to demographics who are typically limited in our discipline is an exciting and unexpected outcome of the early stages of this research. This project started out about experimenting with new educational technologies, but seems to be evolving more into how to provide access to educational opportunities to students who were previously marginalized by field trips. To me, this is not only a welcome change, but one that inspires me to continue this work to find new ways of opening field trips to new students.

References:

Billingsley, G., Smith, S., Smith, S., Meritt, J., 2019. A systematic literature review of using immersive virtual reality technology in teacher education. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 30 (1), 65–90.

Boyle, A., Maguire, S., Martin, A., Milson, C., Nash, R., Rawlinson, S., Turner, A., Wurthmann, S., Conchie, S., 2007. Fieldwork is good: the student perception and the affective domain. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 31 (2), 299–317.

Freina, L., Ott, M., 2015. A literature review on immersive virtual reality in education: state of the art and perspectives. Conference eLearning and Software for Education. https://ppm.itd.cnr.it/download/eLSE%202015%20Freina%20Ott%20Paper.pdf

Glynn, S.M., Brickman, P., Armstrong, N., Taasoobshirazi, G., 2011. Science Motivation Questionnaire II: validation with science majors and nonscience majors. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48 (10), 1159–1176.

Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., Masia, B.B., 1964. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook II: Affective Domain. David McKay Company, Inc. New York.

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Working Group Guide: Members and Partners

An excerpt from the Working Group Guide, by Lauri Aesoph.

Recruit members

When establishing an open working group, a key point of consideration is who could or should be involved. Depending on your institutional context and the purpose of your open working group, an initial recruitment strategy is to reach out to key stakeholders who might influence or impact decision-making about creating, adapting, or adopting open educational resources (OER) on campus. Key allies and potential stakeholders on campus may include the following:

  • Librarians
  • Teaching and learning centre staff
  • Student society representatives
  • Faculty champions
  • Bookstore staff
  • Technology professionals
  • Administrators
Key Stakeholders and Their Roles in Supporting OER Initiatives
Stakeholder Key Role(s) in Supporting OER Initiatives
Librarians
  • Are knowledgeable about educational materials
  • Work with faculty and students to find, adopt, and adapt OER
  • Organize and catalogue OER
Teaching and Learning Centre Staff
  • Work with faculty to train on the use of OER
  • Support course and curriculum design and pedagogy for open teaching assignments
  • Support faculty who want to incorporate OER within a course
Student Society Representatives
  • Advocate as the end user of all educational materials
  • Inventory OER use on campus
  • Determine students needs/interest in OER
  • Connect with other stakeholders on campus
Faculty Champions
  • Implement open into their classrooms
  • Lead by example by having an open practice
  • Encourage colleagues to participate in open
  • Conduct research about open
  • Work with articulation committees to include OER in the curriculum
Bookstore Staff
  • Offer print-on-demand services
  • Stock print copies
  • Distribute OER
Technology Professionals
  • Install and support open technology and websites
  • Research and integrate open tools and OER within campus systems
  • Develop open source software
Administrators
  • Advocate for, promote, and budget for open initiatives
  • Align OER with strategic and organizational plans

When establishing a group, roles and responsibilities for members may vary—some may be doers, some may be advocates, and some may provide support. Formal groups working towards accomplishing a specific goal or task may have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for members from the outset. In comparison, more informal groups may initially have more fluid roles and responsibilities as members’ time and interest permit.

Partner with other institutions

You may want to consider expanding your open working group to include open working groups from other institutions. These relationships can help foster knowledge transfer and staff exchanges, and you may want to work together to develop workshops for online webinars, build subject-specific OER guides, and write grant applications. British Columbia has a number of examples of cross-institution open partnerships. For Open Access Week 2018, open working groups from several institutions collaborated to plan the Open but not Free: Invisible Labour in Open Scholarship panel. Another example would be the B.C. Open Education Librarians (BCOEL) community of practice.

Develop a Common Vision

Sharing knowledge is an act of knowing who will use it and for what purpose. This often involves mutually discovering which insights from the past are relevant in the present. To share tacit knowledge is to think together.[1]

Working to developing a common vision for the group can be a prerequisite for the success of the group. One approach to developing this vision is the CARE Framework. The CARE Framework was developed to support open educational resource (OER) stewards on campus. This framework can guide the group as you consider developing a shared vision.

The CARE Framework

The purpose of the CARE Framework is to articulate a set of shared values and a collective vision for the future of education and learning enabled by the widespread adoption and use of OER. It aims to address the question of how an individual, institution, or organization, seeking to be a good steward, can contribute to the growth and sustainability of the OER movement in a way that is consistent with the community’s values.

At the centre of the CARE Framework (see Figure 1) are a wide variety of stakeholders—OER creators and users, working as individuals and as part of organizations, in traditional and non-traditional educational settings—seeking to act as good stewards of the values of a sustainable OER movement. Locating people at the centre of the CARE Framework serves to remind us first and foremost of the broader social context and purpose of the OER movement.

OER Stewards Contribute, Attribute, Release, and Empower
Figure 1: The CARE Framework for OER Stewardship.

People serving as OER stewards pursue a wide variety of strategies and tactics relevant to their specific context to improve access to education and opportunity over time. Yet, what all good OER stewards should have in common is a commitment to practices that serve to demonstrate their duty of care to the broader OER movement:

  1. Contribute. OER stewards actively contribute to efforts, whether financially or via in-kind contributions, to advance the awareness, improvement, and distribution of OER.
  2. Attribute. OER stewards practise conspicuous attribution, ensuring that all who create or remix OER are properly and clearly credited for their contributions.
  3. Release. OER stewards ensure OER can be released and used beyond the course and platform in which it was created or delivered.
  4. Empower. OER stewards are inclusive and strive to meet the diverse needs of all learners, including by supporting the participation of new and non-traditional voices in OER creation and adoption.

Attributions

Media Attributions


  1. R. McDermott, “Knowing in community: 10 critical success factors in building communities of practice.” International Association for Human Resource Management 4, no.1 (2000): 19–26. 

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