Research Call for Proposals: Removing Barriers to Online Learning through a Teaching and Learning Lens

March 5, 2019 – April 5, 2019 all-day

BCcampus is seeking proposals from the B.C. post-secondary sector to research promising practices in delivering online learning as it pertains to our mandate, through a teaching and learning lens.

In many instances, strategies to increase access to post-secondary education include delivering instruction through online methodologies. In addition, many classroom-based courses include an online component or a learning management system (LMS) that students need to navigate and use to be successful in the course.

It is vital that we know whether there are barriers for marginalized students and/or potential students that impede their success with these online environments.

We have received a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to further B.C.’s efforts in reaching rural and remote learners, as well as those potential students (both urban and rural) who have barriers preventing them from being successful in an online learning environment. Specifically, we want to see research on increasing the inclusion of equity-seeking groups needing to learn in an online environment. For example, what barriers need to be addressed with digital literacy, access to materials, quality of learning resources and instruction, and pedagogy.


To develop a thought leadership resource that identifies evidence-based strategies for designing and delivering professional development and open educational resources (OER) for educators in online learning to improve learning conditions for a diverse spectrum of students.


This research is intended to influence institutional policy decisions and our own strategies for working with educators and instructional support staff. Ideally, this will benefit students who have tried online learning with no to little success as well as potential students who have not been able to engage in an online learning environment.


  • A review of existing literature and other relevant information on diversity, inclusion, and equity in an online environment
  • A high-level scan of practices in B.C. post-secondary institutions
  • A strategic report incorporating evidence-based best practices on how to address barriers to online learning for marginalized students in B.C.
  • The scope is limited to digital literacy, quality of resources and instruction, and pedagogy; it does not include access to technology and/or the internet.


BCcampus will accept proposals with budgets up to $40,000. Budgets must include all costs associated with research, writing, and editing of the final product. For example, the budget needs to include travel, wages, and benefits, incentives, meetings, etc.


Payment will be made in three installments of one-third each, at 1) commencement of project; 2) mid-way through the project, and 3) upon receipt of the final deliverable.

Payment will be made to individuals unless efforts on the project are under a post-secondary institution’s contract. Payments to individuals will have income tax implications.


Proposals to be submitted by April 5, 2019

Adjudication to be completed by April 18, 2019

The final product must be delivered to BCcampus by March 31, 2020.


Please submit your application using the following guidelines to by midnight on April 5, 2019.

Proposal Guidelines

In no more than five pages, not including your CV(s), include the following elements.


  • Identify the goals and objectives of the project as per the CFP
  • Provide a conceptual framework, including the scope of research


  • Provide a description of all steps/methods to complete the research project
  • Provide an explanation of why the proposed methods are appropriate for this specific project and its objectives
  • State whether you anticipate working with a research ethics board during this project, and, if yes, what steps will be taken to obtain approval


  • Identify the roles and responsibilities of the research team
  • Describe the communication plan and format for collaborating with other organizations and/or institutions


  • Identify deliverables and their due dates (e.g. survey instrument, data collected, data analyzed, final report)
  • Identify the start and end dates for the research contract


  • Provide a list of budget components including fees, travel, expenses, etc.
  • Include hourly rates for each researcher, assistant, etc.
  • Identify where GST is relevant for budget items (in addition to researcher fees, allowable expenses include any pre-approved travel, approved telecommunications, courier, postage, and other identifiable business communication expenses at cost)
  • Identify any institutional overhead fees (preferences will be given to proposals that do not apply such fees)
  • Indicate whether the contract will be with an individual, institution, or agency. For contracts with an institution, indicate the portion, if any, destined for release time.


  • Summarize relevant experience for each member of the research team
  • Provide a personal philosophy statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Include CV(s) of the research team as an addendum

Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria will guide the evaluation and selection of the successful proposal.


  • Roles and relevant experience of each member of the research team are clearly outlined.
  • Objectives of the project are clearly stated and understood. The objectives use terminology that can be understood by non-experts. The objectives are easily measurable and achievable within the available timeline.
  • Plans for carrying out the work and proposed approaches are clear, relevant, and feasible. Proposed methodologies, strategies, and approach clearly support research project objectives. Key activities and procedures to complete the research project are clearly articulated and reasonable.
  • Plans for collaboration between individuals and/or institutions to develop the deliverables are clearly articulated.


  • The budget is reasonable with regard to the work proposed.
  • The budget is easy to understand and clearly outlines the most significant line-items required, along with a reasonable timeline for expenses.
  • For each role involved in the research project (subject matter expert, faculty, research assistant, etc.), the percentage of FTE and rate/cost are provided.
  • Direct and in-kind (where appropriate) costs are identified in sufficient detail.
  • The budget clearly shows when the project work and related expenses will occur.