B.C. Open Textbook Collection Through the Years: 2019

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the B.C. Open Textbook Collection. In this monthly blog post series, we’re looking back and highlighting some significant milestones of the project.

Cascadia Open Education Summit logo

By Tim Carson, open education advisor and trades representative, BCcampus

2019 was a year of many transitions. Trades and vocational education and training, often referred to as TVET, underwent huge changes during the years leading up to 2019, yet one of the biggest shifts was still to come. 

In the opening ceremonies of the Cascadia Open Education Summit held at Simon Fraser University’s downtown Vancouver campus, then Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark dropped an announcement that reverberated through the open educational landscape: an investment of $3.26 million in the province’s ecosystem of open educational resources (OER). The crowd attending was ecstatic to say the least. Many were cheering, some were moved to the brink of tears by the emotion of the moment, and a few would come to see their careers forever changed.

Melanie Mark stands with hand on hip holding a microphone and smiling
Melanie Mark at Cascadia 2019

The rest of the conference was a blur. There were many amazing presentations, workshops, and sessions, and the keynotes were raw, honest, and inspiring. Yet the bass track beneath this symphonic display of educational praxis was palpable. In just a few short months, the Open Education team at BCcampus recruited and acquired three new members: Melanie Meyers and Krista Lambert, both from the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and me, a TVET faculty member from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Several others joined the team, and together we embarked on a journey that seeded the educational soils for a harvest of resources that brought positive change for post-secondary students and apprentices in vocational training.

That investment empowered the team for growth and gained some educational ground in the fields of adult basic education, nursing, STEM, and business administration. Further, the investment was the impetus for an educational resource shift for TVET, creating an opportunity for an extended reach of TVET OER, from the province’s Northern institutions to the Southern Interior and throughout the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island. 

Most trades programs and their respective institutions do not share provincial curricula or common resources for their apprentices, leaving institutions to build their own, usually through educational grants and support and most commonly off the side of the desk of TVET faculty dedicated to providing the best they can to their apprentices. Consequently, there were considerable obstacles and logistical challenges to the large-scale development of resources. Organizations like Industry Training Authority BC (ITA BC) were doing some great work in partnering with institutions and faculty, and the work that began in 2019 could not have started so well without the years of commitment by organizations like this one.  

Through the trades portfolio, BCcampus began awarding grants to individual TVET authors to begin a process of starting small, providing a litmus test for building resources through OER grants. A diversity of trades came to see opportunities for exploration through small resource development. Trades faculty for electricians, gasfitters, hairstylists, horticulturalists, millwrights, plumbers, sheet metal workers, and welders produced their first OER. BCcampus also worked to build relationships with ITA, Trades Training BC, articulation committees, and institutions across the province. These humble beginnings laid the foundation for some of the great work undertaken by several larger trades in the province and opened the door for constructing a broader focus on other important aspects of the TVET ecosystem, including women in trades and Indigenous trades training. 

In many ways 2019 was a pivotal year for OER in B.C. The announcement at the 2019 Cascadia Open Education Summit began a year that broadened its scope and impact. It is this author’s humble opinion that the reverberation of that announcement launched a process of elevating awareness, credibility, and viability for OER across many disciplines in the B.C. post-secondary education sector. 

2019 changed many things for OER. It opened the door of opportunity for many authors, both experienced and new, to create something that brings a tangible and positive impact on how their discipline’s content is built and delivered. The work that began in 2019 and continues today would not have been possible without the preceding years of dedication from the BCcampus team. Their exemplary stewardship provided the fertile ground for the growth of the open education ecosystem in B.C.

B.C. Open Textbook Collection 10 year logo

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the B.C. Open Textbook Collection, and we’re celebrating the collection all year long. Stay tuned for the next post in our B.C. Open Textbook Collection Through the Years series as we revisit the milestones from 2020. 

Don’t miss out! Registration will be open soon for Trades Summit Series 2022. The theme of this event will be “Strengthening Teaching and Learning for the Future”. 

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