BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education: Petra Menz and Nicola Mulberry

This month we are happy to present the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education to two deserving recipients: Simon Fraser University’s Petra Menz and Nicola Mulberry. 

Nominated by Hope Power, teaching and learning librarian, Learning and Instructional Services, Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Petra Menz smiling in front of a dark background
Petra Menz

Petra Menz, senior lecturer in mathematics at SFU, is a dedicated open-education leader and practitioner on campus. In collaboration with Nicola Mulberry, her research assistant and mathematics PhD student, Petra successfully adapted and expanded an open textbook that was recently adopted by the mathematics department for use in two large first-year calculus courses at SFU and Fraser International College (FIC). In addition to saving students thousands of dollars on required textbook costs each year through this open educational resources (OER) work, Petra is a notable faculty champion who encourages and supports colleagues with exploring and integrating OER in their own classrooms.

“This award needs to be shared with my RA, Nicola Mulberry,” said Petra Menz. “While I had the vision and created the new mathematics material, Nicola was the one who coded all the information and later on created all the visuals. Furthermore, we shared production of all the videos: she took on the concept videos for MATH 157 while I tackled MATH 158. Without Nicola’s technical expertise, I would not have been able to move this OER into such a visual, versatile, and interactive online presence.

This successful, high-impact open textbook adaptation project achieved the following:

  • Awarded SFU OER grant funding (2017–2018) and matching funding from the department of Mathematics 
  • Substantially revised and expanded existing Calculus Early Transcendentals textbook in collaboration with Nicola Mulberry
  • Revisions included adding interactive visual and video components to text and developing supporting materials such as lecture notes, student notes, exercises, and assignments
  • Adopted for use in MATH 157 and 158 at SFU and FIC in 2018
  • Estimated cost savings: The average cost of a calculus textbook is $200; with 2200 students per year in MATH 157 and 158, this open textbook saves SFU and FIC students approximately $440 000 annually.
Nicola Mulberry smiling in front of a body of water and a blue sky
Nicola Mulberry

“While we added a lot of new material, I should also emphasize that it is through the adaptation of an already existing OER that these two textbooks were possible,” Menz added. “The original author is David Guichard, with a few more authors contributing in bits and pieces. Like Isaac Newton said, ‘If I have seen a little further it’s because I stand on the shoulders of giants.’ Not that I am at all to be likened with Newton; I am just a lecturer who cares deeply about curriculum and student accessibility.”

Both Menz and Mulberry hope their colleagues will explore options for open educational resources and stress the importance of building a network of support. They also see the value of their open textbook extending beyond SFU. “This format is so powerful in that way,” Mulberry has said. “We can put it out there, and other people can build on it.” 

Learn more:

  • More details on this high-impact open textbook project are available on the SFU website.
  • View the textbook for MATH 157.
  • View the textbook for MATH 158.
  • Petra Menz’s faculty bio page.
  • Read another of Petra’s published works: “Open Source Differential and Integral Calculus Material Development to Support Student Accessibility and Learning” conference proceedings, 15th International Conference of the Mathematics Education for the Future Project — Theory and Practice: An Interface or a Great Divide?, Maynooth University, Kildare, Ireland, August 4–9, 2019. 

Previous Honourees: 

Jennifer KirkeyRajiv JhangianiCindy UnderhillMichael PaskeviciusMaja KrzicGrant PotterIrwin DeVriesTara RobertsonChristina HendricksTannis MorganInba KehoeDiane PurveyErin Fields, Arley CruthersChad FlinnAran ArmutluTerry BergWill EngleFlorence DaddeyBrenda SmithLindsay TrippMary ShierBrad BellDebra FlewellingMichelle HarrisonSally VindenAli de HaanSara HumphreysJim Maxwell-Campagna and Andrea Niosi

The feature image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Xan Griffin on Unsplash