CapU Dives Deep into Open Education

Through an open education grant from BCcampus, the team at Capilano University has relaunched their open education program, including the adoption and adaptation of open textbooks that will deliver substantial savings (estimated at $88,000 per year for a single change in a particular course) for their students, while providing an experiential learning opportunity.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Last fall, when Capilano University received an open education sustainability grant from BCcampus, they seized the opportunity to review their current open education structure to find areas to improve.

“We had a slow start for our open education program,” explained Laura MacKay, director of the Centre for Teaching Excellence at Capilano University. “With the funds from BCcampus, matched by Capilano University, we were able to create and execute a strategy to relaunch our program effectively. We are now passionately and proactively working with our students and faculty to build a stronger open education environment. We have hosted events, such as the faculty/student panel during Open Education Week in March, where students and teachers spoke about their experiences with open education. One of our students in the IDEA School of Design, Sara Lilley, created a logo for our open education initiative, and we are developing workshops for non-disposable assignments — for example, where students create infographics, co-create assignment alternatives, and help us co-develop experiential programs for our Cap Core framework.”

CapU is using the funds to:

  • Develop a faculty and student open pedagogy sprint to create a bank of material focused on experiential education
  • Create an Open Education Showcase to raise awareness and interest in open education work
  • Provide ongoing support for open textbooks through a series of workshops on Pressbooks and Creative Commons licensing
  • Archive open textbooks in their own repository of educational materials

“Time is the biggest barrier to adopting and adapting open textbooks,” said Laura. “The sustainability grant from BCcampus gave our open education faculty associates access to supports, so they can look at the resources and understand how to customize the materials for their approach.”

Open Textbooks

Earlier this year, CapU reported a new open textbook adoption of Introduction to Psychology – 1st Canadian Edition. Douglas Alards-Tomalin, psychology instructor at Capilano University, shared, “We have about 20 sections per year, and we will be using OER for each of them. With an estimated 700+ students, we’re anticipating that adopting and adapting this open textbook will create savings of over $88,000 per year for students in this program. Moving forward, we’re hoping to have at least one OER in each year of study, and we are choosing the materials based on the best fit and widest reach.”

“Another opportunity for OER to provide substantial value is with truth and reconciliation for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis,” shared Douglas. “Most standard textbooks are ill-equipped on this issue, and with open textbooks and other OER, instructors can adapt the materials to more adequately meet the goals of reconciliation.” 

Open Education Grants

With financial support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, BCcampus currently has a pair of funding opportunities available to post-secondary institutions in B.C. looking to start — or restart — their open education program, or to continue an existing program. These grants will help us continue to advance the province’s vision for open and affordable education.

Three foundation grants of $16,125 each will be awarded to one post-secondary institution in each of the following regions:

  • Northern B.C.
  • Interior of B.C.
  • Lower Mainland of B.C. or on Vancouver Island

There are also two sustainability grants of $32,250 each, available to British Columbia post-secondary institutions.

An important distinction for each of the grant programs is that they are for the institution, not individual educators, and require matching funds from the institution.

Notable quotes:

“Ten years ago, the argument that open textbooks didn’t have the same level of quality as the commercial textbooks might have made sense, but it doesn’t today. With the inclusion of Pressbooks and the collaborative efforts of multiple educators, you can mix and match the materials to deliver exactly what you want in your classroom.”

Laura MacKay, Director, Centre for Teaching Excellence, Capilano University

“Non-disposable, experiential-driven course work is the future. It will take effort to get faculty on board, but the learning outcomes will last much longer.”

Douglas Alards-Tomalin, psychology instructor at Capilano University

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