Open Education Stories: Removing Barriers to Access with Jennifer Barker

We’re kicking off a new series of videos to share stories of how open education is transforming teaching and learning across B.C’s post-secondary sector and making education more accessible for all learners.

Post by Lucas Wright, Advisor, Open Education, BCcampus

In this video, Dr. Jennifer Barker, a Biology instructor at Douglas College, says that a big turning point that sparked her interest in open education was when she had a student submit a written exam, filled with odd, sort of related, but way too specific answers. At first, she suspected that the student might be cheating, but after talking with the student she found out that they did not purchase the required textbook and instead was using Wikipedia to prepare for the course exams.

Barker views open education resources (OER) and open textbooks as a way to remove some of the financial barriers to students and give them access to the information that she wants them to learn.

To help remove these financial barriers, Barker has adopted the Open Stax Anatomy and Physiology as an optional resource for her course. This helps students who may not be able to afford the course text find relevant and accurate information.

Barker would like to adapt this text so that she can provide incoming students in her anatomy and physiology courses with a single open resource for the course.

She is currently working on a project with a biology student to modify and add to the content found in the current version of the textbook to create a “made for Douglas textbook” that will encompass all content of the Human Anatomy and Physiology course which could be provided to all of her students.

This year, Barker received an Open Education Resource (OER) grant from BCcampus to hire a student to adapt the textbook images, transforming them into vector images so that they can be sized to scale and be projected in the classroom. In this project, the student will also be adapting the images to make them easier to edit by making labels and label lines separate layers and/or objects from the underlying images.

For Barker, the ultimate aim would be to create, through consultation with other instructors across the province, a textbook that includes material covered in Human Anatomy and Physiology courses across B.C. to allow students province-wide to have an open textbook customized for the B.C. context.

Learn more:

Join us at an upcoming event:

To stay informed with BCcampus by signing up for our newsletter, visiting our calendar and following @BCcampus on Twitter.