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Beyond Textbooks – The Open Online Courses Project

Building on the phenomenal success of the open textbook project, the open online courses project is now available to instructors in B.C. to adopt or adapt openly licensed resources for their students. So what does that mean?

Post by the BCcampus editorial team

It’s four days before the new school year, and you’ve just been informed that you will be teaching Business Communications for the first time. You could go with a course-in-a-box from a commercial publisher, but you vaguely remember hearing something from the teaching and learning centre about a new open educational resource (OER) available through BCcampus, so here you are.

The BCcampus open online courses project is a repository of complete courses for post-secondary institutions in B.C. The courses are openly licensed and fully equipped for teaching, learning, and assessment, including course materials, evaluation tools, modules, and other resources, like case studies, that you can adopt or adapt for your program.

Quality Assured

Each component of every course in the open courses collection goes through a quality assurance process to ensure it’s appropriate and valid for instructors in B.C. The courses are reviewed by instructional designers using a rigorous rubric that includes important aspects of design, including accessibility and equity, diversity, and inclusion. We’ve taken our learnings from the open textbook project and applied them to the open courses project to maximize quality. The courses are good to go for you, your course, and your students.

What Are the Benefits for Faculty to Use Open Education?

“We often talk about the value to students regarding the use of OER, like open textbooks (where we recently hit a milestone of $20 million in student savings), but we rarely discuss the benefits to the educators,” said Melanie Meyers, project manager for open courses and improved searchability at BCcampus. “The open online courses project brings value to experienced educators looking for new tools and approaches to fit within their current curriculum, such as ways to incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion in their lessons. New instructors can use the whole package and feel confident going into the classroom knowing they have what they need for a successful year.”

Courses Currently Available

There are nine complete courses to choose from through the OER Collection from BCcampus, each based on existing open textbooks, that feature transferability information, course description, learning modules, and supplementary H5P resources

Business Communications (1 and 2) – A pair of courses to help students become effective communicators. Authored (respectively) by Melissa Ashman from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Karen McMurray from Coast Mountain College.

Business Statistics – Designed to meet the Statistics for the CPA program competencies. Authored by Evan van Dyk of Coast Mountain College.

Financial Accounting (1 and 2) – An introduction to accounting and advanced accounting. Authored by Evan van Dyk of Coast Mountain College.

Introduction to Management – Designed to address gaps in many introductory management courses. Authored by Scott van Dyk of Coast Mountain College.

Introduction to Marketing – Students will work on a mock business idea to practice the fundamental principles of marketing. Authored by Scott van Dyk of Coast Mountain College.

Introduction to University Writing – A self-paced course to build academic writing skills. Authored by Sandra McKay at Vancouver Community College.

Mathematics of Finance – Students will learn how to solve common business problems by using the mathematics of finance. Authored by Evan van Dyk of Coast Mountain College.

These are the courses available today, but be sure to check back often as new entries will be added as they make their way through the quality assurance requirements. 

Not Just for Online Learning

The courses in the project are designed for use in an online classroom. Check with your teaching and learning centre to see what is required to add the course to your learning management system. However, in addition, they can easily be adapted for face-to-face delivery.

Are the Courses Transferable?

For the most part – yes. Many of the courses offer complete transferability to a wide range of institutions, as reported by BCTransferGuide.ca. The transferability information is listed within the course description. 

Academic Integrity

Since the courses are openly available online, what’s to stop students from accessing the same information to ace the course without actually learning? You’ll be happy to know that much of the supplementary materials, like test banks and instructor manuals, are restricted to instructors, with a vetting process to ensure the information is shared only with faculty members teaching that course. 

Create Your Own Openly Available Course

When you are ready to craft your own submission for the open courses collection, we’d love to hear from you. We have this expression of interest currently open, and we’ve even included an application template to help you complete your own.

Capilano University Open Online Course Adoption

Capilano University has adopted portions of the Business Communications open online course. We connected with Lydia Watson, communications instructor at Capilano University, who shared, “It was so great to find B.C.-focused and Indigenous-focused resources in the open online course collection that aligned with the curriculum and directly with my course.”

Notable Quote(s):

“Essentially, the open courses are everything you need to get started. You can adapt them for regional use and institution-specific purposes, and it eliminates the need to start from scratch. It’s a good framework for educators building their own curriculum: you can add some or all of the materials, supplement others, and create the course you want to teach.” 

Melanie Meyers, project manager, BCcampus

“The design and development of the collection is an ongoing and iterative process. The key is that the way the site is designed – from how search results return to how help information is presented – is based on how real educators use it and think about materials.”

— Selina McGinnis, lead user experience and information architect, BCcampus

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The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by William Fortunato from Pexels.

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