Improving Access to Open Resources

Many of the post-secondary institutions in remote areas of the province lack the resources to create or sustain open education initiatives for their students, so BCcampus has created a pair of open education grants to improve access.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Last fall, we welcomed a pair of regional representatives to BCcampus to help us build stronger connections and improve access to open education at the post-secondary institutions (PSIs) in B.C.’s northern and interior communities. Ross McKerlich is working with the institutions in the B.C. Interior, and Carolee Clyne is connecting the North.

Planning on a Smaller Scale

The regional representatives are helping us understand some of the difficulties that smaller institutions face.

“Where institutions in Vancouver or Victoria might have a team of twenty people working on an open education project,” explained Carolee, “for some of the institutions in northern B.C., it’s not unusual to find one person responsible for multiple roles, with available resources typically spread quite thin. Many of the northern institutions don’t have the numbers to justify a department specifically for open education.” 

“Ross’s and Carolee’s perspectives allow us to see some of the challenges faced by rural institutions, which led to the idea of developing open education grants for different regions of the province,” shared Lauri Aesoph, manager of Open Education at BCcampus.

Levelling the Playing Field

To improve access to open education opportunities for all PSIs throughout the province, we developed a pair of open education grants with financial support from the Hewlett Foundation: a foundation grant to start — or restart — an open education initiative, and a sustainability grant to help an existing open education program thrive and grow.

“We recognize that some teams haven’t had the same level of success, or lacked the resources to create a foundation of open education,” shared Lauri, “so these grants are intended to help them create the tools they need to make use of the wealth of open educational resources available through BCcampus and other channels.”

“These grants will help create flexibility within the institutional culture,” said Ross. “The funds can be used to hire a part-time assistant or two to provide the educator the bandwidth they need to focus on implementing open education opportunities or revisiting their previous open education strategy.” 

Accessing Opportunities

BCcampus has adapted an open education practice tool: a 20-question yes or no worksheet, to help institutions start the conversation about open education.

The worksheet is a great resource to help all levels of an institution assess where they are on their open education plans and identify needs that they weren’t aware of. The two new grants are available to all PSIs in British Columbia. An important distinction between these grants and previous offerings is that these are for the institution itself. 

“The institutions can use the funds to develop their open education offerings, connecting them with future grant possibilities and providing access to substantial OER,” explained Ross. 

The sustainability grant is designed for institutions looking to improve the operational model of their current open educational practices, and the foundational grant is designed to help institutions launch or relaunch their open educational practices, resources, support, or training on their campuses. 

Either grant may lead to improved:

  • Awareness building
  • Helpdesk support specific to open education
  • Open education working groups
  • Open educational practices (OEP)
  • Open pedagogy
  • Open policy
  • Open publishing support or services for new creations or adaptations
  • Pressbooks support and training
  • Workshops for instructors on how to use or adopt OER

There are three foundation grants available: one for the North, one for the Interior, and one for the Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island. The provided funding must be matched by the awarded institution. The sustainability grant is available to any post-secondary institution in the province. Any resources created as a result of this funding will be shared under an open license so everyone in our system can benefit. 

Visit the BCcampus Grants and Calls for Proposals page to stay current on opportunities for your institution. 

Notable Quote

“These grants create opportunities for institutions to wade into the world of open, allowing them to continue to support and encourage faculty as they explore the full scope of open pedagogy and the open educational resources available.”

—Carolee Clyne, Open Education Adviser, Regional Representative, BCcampus

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