BC’s Educators Work Toward Open Education

The use of open education resources, either in the context of large initiatives such as the OpenCourseWare Consortium, Moodle and Blackboard, or countless grassroots efforts, has been growing in prominence throughout higher education. Increasingly, instructors and students are asking how they can get involved with this movement, and what their institutions are doing to support this work.

brian_lamb.jpgAnyone who has promoted the development and reuse of open educational resources (OERs) knows there are many challenges. Just a few of these include institutional needs, intellectual property rights, community outreach and technical compatibility. Compounding these problems is the absence of resources explaining the issues to the wider community, or that provide a set of potential guidelines for those establishing policies.

That is until now.

Working with an OPDF grant from BCcampus, UBC’s Brian Lamb is coordinating the creation of an open course for educators that will help them to explore and hopefully resolve some of the issues faced when using an OER. The course is being developed in collaboration with College of the Rockies, The University of Victoria, Royal Roads University and Capilano University, who will be sharing their experiences in the form of case studies.

“The course we are developing is called Toward Open Education”, said Lamb. “It provides a set of resources addressing some of the challenges we all face in using OERs, in a format that resembles an open course. The project strives to engage educators and students across British Columbia, and hopefully beyond, in a process that models the core principles of the movement.”

The core objective of the project is to develop meaningful resources in the following areas:

  • Context of the open educational movement: the motivations, the major drivers, the major players, the divergent approaches.
  • Policy: intellectual property, faculty and instructor concerns and agreements, making the case within a wider administrative context, funding, staffing and sustainability models.
  • Instructional considerations: a survey of how open education is being conducted worldwide, establishing a balance between open content and student concerns for privacy of interactions and work, alternatives to content-based open courses. And defining the relationship between “teacher” and “student”.
  • Technical considerations: sustainable development and hosting models, existing and potential toolsets, principles of content development to optimize reuse.

“When complete, this online space will be a hub that gives professors information they can use each time they work with an Open Educational Resource,” said Lamb. “We want to promote sharing and continual re-using of OERs around the province, and help to fuel the creation of more OERs for Canadian learners.”