In this blog post we learn about Theresa Southam’s work as a 2020–2021 BCcampus Research Fellow.
In June 2020, Theresa Southam, coordinator of the Teaching & Learning Institute (TLI) at Selkirk College, along with Scott Gerrity, Instructional Specialist at College of the Rockies, received a BCcampus foundational grant— a grant that aids institutions in examining how they can incorporate open education into their teaching systems.
After a call for proposals from instructors at both institutions in fall 2020, a cross-institutional open education working group accepted three proposals for creating open education resources (OERs). The projects include:
- A podcast for students on their experiences learning online and in blended learning environments
- Demonstration videos that will accompany a planned BCcampus textbook for healthcare aid programs in the province
- Branching quizzes for nursing programs
Theresa’s BCcampus Research Fellowship asks of these projects, “What difference does the application of inclusion and accessibility principles in OERs make to students?” As a first step, instructors have been offered the following workshops: Inclusive Pedagogic Practices and Universal Design, Co-creating Spaces of Belonging: A Disability as Diversity Perspective, Course Design for Inclusivity, and Diversity and Universal Design for Learning. Universal Design for Learning workshops are planned for spring 2021.
UBC’s OER Accessibility Toolkit (Open UBC, 2020) and Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom handout (UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and UBC Equity & Inclusion Office, 2020) formed the basis of an inclusivity and accessibility checklist that was shared by TLI with the OER project leads as part of their design processes. Approval was obtained from Selkirk College’s Ethics Committee to include students in the research and to conduct focus groups with instructors post OER production and implementation.
After each project is introduced in fall 2021, students will be contacted and asked whether they found the OERs inclusive and accessible. In a first survey, students will be provided with definitions of inclusion and accessibility but not the checklist. In a second round of questions, students will receive the checklist. Students will be given the option to enter their name in a draw for prizes. Following use of the OERs, instructors will meet in a focus group. The instructors will be provided with anonymized student feedback and asked to respond as well as to reflect on the application of the accessibility and inclusivity principles and how they might design OERs in the future. Data analysis will be conducted with the assistance of a work-term student.
What This Means for the Institutions
For both the College of the Rockies and Selkirk College, this project has created the opportunity for in-depth conversations with potential and successful instructor applicants about open education as well as inclusion and accessibility in course design. Articles about the project have been featured in the Selkirk Teaching & Learning Institute newsletter which reaches every instructor at Selkirk College and some at the College of the Rockies as well as school districts in the area. This is an opportunity to take student feedback seriously and create excitement about open education among instructors.
This research is supported by the BCcampus Research Fellows Program, which provides B.C. post-secondary educators and students with funding to conduct small-scale research on teaching and learning, as well as explore evidence-based teaching practices that focus on student success and learning.
Open UBC. (2020). OER Accessibility Toolkit. https://open.ubc.ca/access/toolkits-access/oer-accessibility-toolkit
UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, & UBC Equity & Inclusion Office. (2020). Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Online Teaching: Where to Begin? https://ctlt-inclusiveteaching.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2020/04/Equity-Diversity-Inclusion-Online-Teaching.pdf