Open Education Stories: Learning Between the Lines with OER

In 2017, Sanja Boskovic, Associate Dean, Aerospace Technology Campus, and Serhat Beyenir Instructor, Power Engineering, at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) developed an openly licensed lab manual as a way to bridge the conceptual and the technical in Power Engineering and improve student learning and engagement.

Post by Lucas Wright, Open Education Advisor, BCcampus

Sanja and Serhat teach courses at BCIT that prepare graduates to operate, maintain, and manage industrial plants that use equipment such as boilers and refrigeration units. In their instruction, Serhat and Sanja focused on the thermodynamics and conceptual processes involved in power engineering as well as the technical aspects of operating industrial plants and equipment. While teaching these courses they noticed that students needed ways to bridge the conceptual and the technical, so with the support of BCIT and BCcampus they developed Simulator Labs, an openly licensed set of Sim Labs for Thermodynamics and Thermal Power Plant Simulator.

Students were involved from the outset of this project and identified the need for creating a lab book. They also participated throughout the process by providing beta-testing and feedback on the resource.

As Serhat notes in the video, since including this lab manual in the classroom students make more connections between the concepts and the technical and procedural aspects of power engineering. In our interview he noted the following:

I am increasingly noticing that they [students] are thinking long before they do the steps. We have standard operating procedures, but between the lines, now, I tend to believe that they are thinking about the theories, the concepts, the reasons why they do those things in certain order.

In this project, Serhat and Sanja found an aspect of their instruction and curriculum that could be improved by developing a resource. Rather than relying on published materials to fill this gap, they created their own resource and made it openly available for students.

This project is only part of the picture of open education at BCIT. Serhat mentioned that five other instructors in Power Engineering were also considering ways that OER might fit within their current teaching practice. The Open Education working group at BCIT supports open education grants in collaboration with BCcampus and promotes and supports open education across the institution.

This project is an incredible example of how educators can develop open resources that support and improve their teaching practice, and by doing so improve student learning.

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