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BCcampus Open Courses Project: Creating Agency for Educators

Building on the success of the B.C. Open Textbook Project, we’re excited to share the newest opportunity to improve access to and creation of open educational resources (OER): the BCcampus Open Online Courses Project.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Open textbooks have become a familiar presence in many classrooms across B.C. The pre-COVID-19 adoption rate was good, and since the switch to online learning driven by the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge interest in the 300+ open textbooks currently available through BCcampus. We’re on track to hit over $20 million in savings for students this September, so the next step is to find ways to bring more value to the educators and students across the province. To make that happen, we’ve just launched a call for proposals to identify, adopt, adapt, and build learning resources for the post-secondary community in B.C.

Inspired by Those Who Know

“The idea of developing the open courses project came from Carrie Nolan, acting dean of strategic initiatives at Coast Mountain College,” shared Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus. “Carrie suggested that the post-secondary system could collaboratively build high-value courses. With the support of CMTN’s president, Justin Kohlman, they proposed the idea to BC Colleges and found that there was a huge interest in this idea. BCcampus was recommended as the right team to handle this, and we’re looking forward to the influx of proposals.” Once the project made the rounds through BC Colleges, it was also circulated through the BC Association of Institutes and Universities (BCAIU), and ultimately was seen by every vice president academic in the province. 

“The open courses will be great for the entire sector,” explained Robynne Devine, project manager at BCcampus, “creating experiential learning opportunities for the students and valuable course materials for the instructors.”

Evolving Open 

The playing field for open has grown substantially over the past few years. In addition to open textbooks, we have Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) programs at multiple institutions in B.C., Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) bootcamps to help new-to-online-teaching instructors, as well as the work we’re currently doing in our Open Homework Systems Project. We’ve also collected and curated a list of virtual labs for science education, vetted and approved by local educators. Building processes to help instructors create courses and course elements is the next logical step for us, and we’re excited to announce that we are now accepting proposals from local professionals, with a goal of giving educators more tools, resources, and agency for future courses.

Deliverables

Through this project, we will produce fully developed and openly licensed courses that address the learning needs of high-priority, transferable subjects. The materials will include individual OER, such as videos, assignments, rubrics, and other curriculum. We’re designing the technology infrastructure to enable the discovery of additional resources through the use of metadata. We’ll continue to recognize advocacy and support for adoption and adaptation of the open learning materials.

Call for Proposals

The call for proposals is now open, and we’re inviting instructors, teaching and learning centres, libraries, articulation committees, and everyone else in the post-secondary sector of B.C. to participate.

“The closing date is mid-July,” shared Robynne, “but we’ll be using a rolling adjudication to assess the proposals, so don’t wait for the last minute to submit your brilliant idea. And if you do miss the deadline, send us your proposal if you think it’s something we need to see. Our hope is to continue this project to create and provide high-quality OER to educators and students throughout the province.”

“Our timelines are extremely aggressive and ambitious,” said Mary, “but we’re fortunate to have such a wealth of talent and resources, and we’re confident in our ability to deliver excellent learning materials — produced by subject matter experts and vetted by their peers — as soon as possible. We know our partners in other jurisdictions have done much of this work already, and we plan to collaborate with them to ensure we are building on their work”.

Notable Quote

“This project is such a positive sign of our ability, as a system, to think holistically about the open resources we have. It’s an opportunity to pool our talents with the open-focused educators across the province, and then across the country: collaborating on curriculum development and building on the open ecosystem we’ve been working so hard on for so many years.”


—Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus

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