The BCOER Librarians group is helping post-secondary faculty to navigate burgeoning Open Education Resources while advocating for more accessible education for students.
In December 2013, a small grassroots group of B.C. post-secondary librarians recognized there was a need to address together, a librarian’s response to the growth of Open Educational Resources (OER) and its use by faculty and students.
We managed to catch up with one of the group’s energetic librarians, Leva Lee, who is also the Manager of Open Education and Professional Learning at BCcampus. She and her colleagues were just coming away from an extraordinarily busy but successful conference season that began with a webinar for Open Education week in March. The group then presented at the Open Textbook Summit, as well as the BC Library Association conference. These presentations were followed by a webinar for Open Oregon and, finally, a poster session at the ETUG workshop on the work of BCOER and demo of a LibraryBox to share OER.
We asked Ms Lee to comment on the progress of the BCOER Librarians group since its inception in 2013.
“At that time, there was a lot happening in B.C. with OER, and in particular, Open Textbooks, but few were seriously addressing how to assist faculty with the use of quality OER. As professional librarians, we needed to take the lead in developing more expertise and address the need for faculty awareness and knowledge of OER, as well as the need for our own ongoing professional learning in this area.”
In May of 2014 the BCOER group held a Hackfest which resulted in an informative poster designed as a tool to interest faculty in discussions about OER and open textbooks. An engaging and energetic synopsis of the May 2014 Hackfest illustrates that much can be accomplished at this type of real-time collaborative event where specific projects and outcomes can be achieved through intensive, dedicated teamwork.
Since that first Hackfest, the BCOER Librarians group has been very busy developing more comprehensive objectives, guides and tools, all of which are posted on their website, hosted by BCcampus, under BCOER Librarians. The website includes a well-tested rubric for librarians reviewing OER repositories, and a valuable checklist for faculty who are looking at quality standards for choosing OER.
“The first tool we created was the OER Rubric, “ said Ms Lee, “It is librarian-focused tool, meant to assist in ensuring a high quality standard for the selection of Open Education Resource repositories for inclusion in our OER subject guides. The Faculty guide, on the other hand, is a tool for faculty and is a simple checklist that can be used to quickly see whether a particular OER is up to snuff.”
Leva Lee told us about future plans for BCOER Librarians. “We are holding a BCOER Summer15 Hackfest on July 17th at the BCIT downtown Vancouver campus. We’ve got a lot of ideas about what we want to accomplish including creating more OER subject guides and refining our current OER tools. We’re going to be using a new collaborative working space Mediawiki.bccampus.ca and exploring how we might use WordPress forums to assist in our provincial outreach. Prior to the event, participants are identifying in a Google document, what’s needed and the topics on their wish lists. BCOER librarians are encouraged to invite fellow librarians to attend. Hackfest participants decide on the day of the event which ideas they will work on and self-organize into their project teams. A Hackfest is a lot of fun and we’re excited about the possibilities.”
Ms Lee also advised us that the BCOER Librarians group would be developing a new website for the Fall 2015. Watch for more good news in the coming months from this vibrant group.
“I find that working with the BCOER group revitalizes my professional life. We have a vision and a goal, and working together creates a great synergy where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.” Debra Flewelling, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Douglas College
“Librarians are seen as the go-to resource by everyone in a post-secondary institution. For instance: cataloguing and version control of the resources in our open textbook collection will become a challenge as the collection grows – and that’s something librarians could help with.” Mary Burgess, BCcampus Acting Executive Director.
“Librarians can be a highly motivated, agile resource for textbook authors.” Clint Lalonde, Manager, Open Education, BCcampus