Celebrating a Decade of Open Education Advocacy: The BCOEL Community of Practice

By BCcampus team members Karolina Karas, strategist, Marketing and Communications, and Leva Lee, advisor, Learning and Teaching

a BCOEL-themed bookshelf created with a 3D printer.

In 2023 we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the BC Open Education Librarians (BCOEL) community of practice, a significant milestone in the landscape of open education. Originating from a conference conversation a decade ago, the BCOEL has evolved into a recognized force with a lasting impact on open education in B.C.

The Beginning of the BCOEL

The BCOEL traces its roots to 2013 when Janis McKenzie of Simon Fraser University and Leva Lee of BCcampus began a conversation at an Educational Technology Users Group conference, envisioning a collaborative space for librarians to explore open educational resources (OER). At the time BCcampus was working on the open textbook project, which inspired librarians to contribute complementary and meaningful work while learning together and sharing the motivation to make a significant impact on student education.  

This conversation and project created the BCOER Librarian Group, which later became the BCOEL.

Milestones and Initiatives

The BCOEL champions equitable access to knowledge, showing its commitment through various initiatives. From curating extensive OER to organizing workshops and seminars, the BCOEL has paved the way for a more inclusive educational system.

Over the past decade, the BCOEL has produced numerous educational materials, including the Faculty Guide for Evaluating Open Education Resources and the BCOER infographic, created to engage faculty in conversations on OER. It was also a trailblazer in developing some of the first library guides on open education.

The BCOEL has been at the forefront of organizing events for Open Education Week and Open Access Week. And in the early days when open education was gaining ground, it presented at various conferences, introducing the concept of OER to a wider audience. It hosted hackathons to create materials for open textbooks, organized professional learning opportunities on OER and open education, and led interdepartmental committees on open education at many campuses across the province.

Recognizing the importance of knowledge transfer, the BCOEL established a mentorship program to pair experienced librarians in open education with those just entering the field.

BCOEL celebrants attending the BCcampus-hosted social at Fable Diner.

In 2015 the NMC Horizon Report acknowledged the BCOEL’s pioneering work in the field of open education. Its impact extends beyond local borders; the group’s strong leadership and advocacy have been commended globally.

Celebrating 10 Years

To commemorate the BCOEL’s journey, BCcampus sponsored a gathering this summer, where the group engaged in a planning session, explored the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Tech Collider space, and enjoyed an evening social at the Fable Diner. The celebration served as a testament to the passion and dedication of BCOEL members past and present.

As we congratulate the BCOEL on its 10th anniversary, we acknowledge its transformative impact on the open education landscape. Here’s to another exciting decade of the BCOEL championing open education and making a lasting difference in the post-secondary sector! Thank you to all BCOER/BCOEL members for your passion and contributions to open education in B.C. and beyond.

Notable Quotes:

“BCcampus and Leva Lee brought together librarians from various B.C. institutions to champion OER. We formed a group in December 2013 and called ourselves the BCOER Librarians. We had a busy start right from our first years, and later we changed our name to the BCOEL to acknowledge our expanding work in open education. BCcampus provided our group with many of the tools we need, like our website and so much more. The many events and support we had over the years from BCcampus are directly related to the successes we all have today.”

— Debra Flewelling, Douglas College, former BCOEL chair

“Over the past 10 years, the BCOEL has grown from a collection of resources for open advocacy to a community of practice for librarians engaged in and supportive of open educational practices. We envision a world where access to educational resources is unencumbered by ownership and cost, and we value the collaboration and sharing of knowledge the BCOEL group provides.”

— Amanda Grey, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, BCOEL chair

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