Jon Beasley-Murray, an Associate Professor of Latin American Studies at UBC, as part of a recent debate at UBC’s Open Access Week, explores the role that MOOCs: “So why, then, talk and think about MOOCs at all? Well, in the first place, because any challenge to the university and its business model is welcome, even if the point of the challenge that I myself would want to make is quite different from that presented by Koller and her venture-capitalist partners. And second, because the university’s reaction to the MOOCs is so very revealing. It shows us how much is rotten in the institution and how far we still have to go before we achieve the vision of a truly open education.”
On October 28-29, 2014, UBC Will host two days of events that highlight areas of open scholarship, education, and research from UBC’s faculty, students and staff as well as guests from the global community. Topics this year include flexible learning, the future of scholarly publishing, the student as producer, MOOCs, open robotics, APIs and more. A complete list of sessions and speakers can be found here.
Open UBC is held in conjunction with the International Open Access Week, which encourages the academic community to come together to share and learn about open scholarship initiatives locally and worldwide, as well as Celebrate Learning Week, which celebrates teaching and learning opportunities at UBC. All events, which will be held in the Lillooet Room (301), of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC, are free and open to the public.
BCcampus recently launched a faculty fellows program aimed at encouraging more instructor and faculty adoption and use of open textbooks in British Columbia. The fellows will engage in research that determines the efficacy of open textbook use in B.C. institutions and provide mentorship to faculty new to open textbooks through presentations and consultation. The first three fellows include Christina Hendricks, a Senior Instructor in the department of Philosophy at UBC; Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Instructor of Psychology at KPU; and Jessie Key, a Professor in Chemistry at VIU. According to Dr. Hendricks, benefitors of open textbooks include students who “don’t have to go into debt so much to pay for their education. And you’re not sacrificing quality by using open resources, so students still get very good materials for their courses”. Additionally, Dr. Hendricks points out that faculty themselves benefit by the ability to revise the textbooks and to fit them to their clases: “it’s much easier to teach with a resource you’ve managed on your own.”
BCcampus, as part of the BC Open Textbook Program, recently announced the release of two new open textbooks, both with significant contributions from post-secondary faculty in British Columbia. British Columbia in a Global Context is an introductory geography textbook written by faculty from UBC, SFU, Okanagan College and the University of the Fraser Valley. The book was created to meet the specific regional needs of BC geography courses and was developed during the first BCcampus book sprint that took place on the UBC campus earlier this summer. Mastering Strategic Management-1st Canadian Edition is a Canadian adaptation of the previously released Mastering Strategic Management textbook. Adaptations include Canadian specific content, images, and references, and the creation and inclusion of ancillary resources in the Appendix. Both of these textbooks are licensed under an open copyright license and are made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public.
David Wiley, a chief academic officer of Lumen Learning, adjunct faculty at Brigham Young University, and pioneer in open learning, discusses the impacts that MOOCs have had on the idea of “open” in higher education. “Despite all the hyperbole, it has become clear that MOOCs are nothing more than traditional online courses enhanced by open entry, and not the innovation so many had hoped for.” He suggests that MOOC providers should support open licenses to allow for reuse, revision, and redistribution. Dr. Wiley also poses the question, “If MOOC providers changed from ‘open means open entry’ to ‘open means open licenses’ what would the impact be? In fact, it would drastically expand the access enjoyed by people around the world, as learners everywhere would be free to download, translate, and redistribute the MOOC content. MOOCs could become part of the innovation conversation.” Dr. Wiley also suggests that an open education infrastructure that consists of open credentials, assessments, competencies, and resources would “provide a foundation that will greatly decrease the time, cost, and complexity of the search for more effective models of education.”
The BC Open Textbook Program has issued a call for applications for its faculty fellows program. The program is designed to encourage the adoption of existing open textbooks, to create advocacy and education for faculty about adaptation and creation, and to ensure the quality and relevance of the collection. Faculty fellows will be responsible for engaging in research that determines the efficacy of open textbook use in BC institutions. The specific focus of the research would be decided in consultation with the BCcampus Open Textbook team. Fellows would also provide mentorship to faculty new to open textbooks through presentations and consultation. This activity would take place both within the context of the fellows’ home institution and their discipline. Appointments will be for a one year term beginning September 2014, and each fellow will receive $10,000 at the conclusion of their service. The application deadline is August 11, 2014.
Brian Lamb and Jim Groom examine the topic of innovation and disruption in higher education and argue that institutions should be “using open architecture, through open-source applications, to reinvest in creative people, processes, and possibilities — that is, to reclaim innovation”. This process, they argue, “will require an at-times inconvenient commitment to the fundamental principles of openness, ownership, and participation. It will require hard work, creativity, and a spirit of fun”. In a companion piece, they also provide case studies of instructors and institutions, including TRU and UBC, who are leveraging open platforms and approaches in innovative ways.
Over a period of four days, a team of five authors (Siobhán McPhee from UBC, Arthur “Gill” Green from UBC Okanagan, Britta Ricker and Cristina Temenos from SFU, and Aviv Ettya from UFV) met at UBC and wrote an entire geography textbook as part of BCcampus’s first open textbook sprint. According to Clint Lalonde, BCcampus Manager of Open Education, “whilst geography is one of the Top 40 subject areas in BC, there are currently no existing textbooks on regional BC geographic sites. We’ve been able to incorporate a lot of existing case studies, referring to many sites and historical events (such as 1960 Port Alberni tsunami). A key feature of online textbooks is that we’re also able to include such components as interactive mapping.” The free and complete textbook will be available in August 2014 for downloading at http://open.bccampus.ca. It will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license, which means that facilitators and tutors can freely further adapt and modify the text, and insert additional information to fit their specific learning context.
BCcampus is actively looking for additional instructors to join the BC Open Textbook community to review newly identified textbooks either in the original 40 highest-enrolled subject areas, or in the targeted trades. Selected reviewers are paid an honorarium of $250 per textbook. All of their peer-reviewed open textbooks are rated against a review rubric to ensure consistency and quality. The rubric includes criteria for comprehensiveness, content accuracy, interface, relevance, clarity, grammar, consistency and organizational structure. Our 5-point rating system provides a quick at-a-glance overview of the quality and usability of the open textbook. Additional funding is available for faculty and instructors who wish to adapt a textbook for their own use or create a new one. Textbook adapters and creators receive in-kind institutional contributions that can include instructional design and graphic support, editing and help with online publishing platforms. The BCcampus Open Textbook Program community already includes more than 38 instructors and professors from post-secondary institutions around the province who reviewed existing open textbooks.
The March 2014 BC Open Open Ed Chat archived recording is now available. It featured Paul Hibbitts and Novak Rogic who discussed technologies and platforms to support open learning. For background, see some of Paul Hibbitts’ course environments “designed in the open“, and 5 Questions with Novak Rogic on the impact of open publishing platforms and flexible learning.