Category Archives: My presentations

Survey of BC faculty on OER & open textbooks

While I was one of three Faculty Fellows with the BCcampus Open Textbook program, we conducted a survey of faculty in BC and beyond, focusing on their use of and attitudes towards Open Educational Resources and Open Textbooks. We got over 70 complete responses from faculty at various institutions, most of them from teaching institutions rather than research institutions.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 4.47.23 PMWe published a white paper about the survey, which was released in January of 2016. You can read a brief summary of the report here.

Here is a link to the PDF of the full report.



We also presented the results of this survey at two conferences before the white paper was finished:

The BCcampus Open Textbook Summit, May 2015, Vancouver, BC. Here are the slides from that presentation.


The 2015 Open Education Conference, November 2015, Vancouver, BC. Here are the slides from that presentation.

Open Education Week 2016 panel at UBC

I like to keep track of various things I’ve participated in, such as giving talks, facilitating workshops, etc., and this post is part of doing that.

On March 10, 2016, I was part of an amazing panel of people talking about “Engaging Students in Open Education,” as part of Open Education Week at UBC.

Here is the description and panelists:

Open education is a hot topic on post secondary campuses these days. This year UBC saw the #textbookbroke campaign led by the Alma Mater society – advocating for the use of open textbooks and open practices in the classroom to reduce costs for students; the adoption of open textbooks and resources in large multi section physics and math courses; and the continuing development of open teaching practices with Wikipedia projects and student produced, openly published content.

How do we engage students with open educational practices that go beyond making their work public to making it re-usable or available for others to build on? Why is open education important to students and to what extent can it enrich the teaching and learning environment?

Lighting Talks: Each speaker will present for 8 minutes and respond to questions for 5 minutes. This will be followed by a broad panel discussion about open practice.


Christina Hendricks: Senior Instructor Philosophy
Jenna Omassi: VP Academic & University Affairs
Arthur Gill Green Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Geography, BC Campus Faculty Fellow
Rajiv Jhangiani, Psychology Instructor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Leah Keshet, Mathematics Professor
Eric Cytrynbaum, Associate Professor Department of Mathematics
Stefan Reinsberg, Physics instructor


This even was live-streamed and recorded, and I’ve been waiting for the recording to show up on YouTube. But I decided to just post the link to where it is now, in case I forget:

Link to the recording on the Ike Barber Learning Commons website.


I love doing these sorts of things because I get to learn about what interesting things others are doing on our campus and beyond!

A series of workshops on open education

One of the challenges in our "Open for Learning" challenge bank

One of the challenges in our “Open for Learning” challenge bank

I have been one of a team of facilitators for a series of workshops on open education that we’ve run at UBC from December 2015 to May 2016 (we haven’t done the last one yet!). The idea behind having this series is that we might be able to go into more depth into various topics than we could cover in a single workshop on the broad topic of open education. It has worked well for that, though of course the people that come to the later ones are not always the same as those who came to the earlier ones, so we still always have to do some intro work at the beginning. Still, I think this model works pretty well.

One thing I really like about what we’re doing is that we have used the model of the “assignment bank” from #ds106 and the challenge bank from #udgagora to create challenges that participants can do during the workshop. We were able to do this because Alan Levine kindly put some code up on Github to set one of these banks up as a WordPress theme. Now, I didn’t use that code to set up our challenge site (I only wish I could do that), but Lucas Wright of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at UBC did.

Here’s the challenge bank we’ve been using for our workshops–super cool!

We will keep this challenge bank and have people add their answers as we do this series again in the future (and we have one more workshop to go!).

Here is a PDF with the descriptions of our workshop series for 2015-2016: Open for Learning Workshop Final Descriptions

And I wanted to embed our slides, too. Here are the slides for the first three workshops (I’ll add the fourth when it’s done, if I remember).


Workshop 1: Open for Learning: Exploring the Possibilities for your Classroom

This was an introductory, overview workshop covering a number of things in open ed.


Workshop 2: Using and Remixing Open Resources in Your Courses


Workshop 3: Teaching in the Open

Presentation on SoTL research re: peer feedback

In mid-November I gave a presentation at the SoTL Symposium in Banff, Alberta, Canada, sponsored by Mount Royal University.

It’s a little difficult to describe this complex research, so I’ll let my (long) abstract for the presentation tell at least part of the story.

750-word abstract

Title: Tracking a dose-response curve for peer feedback on writing

There is a good deal of research showing that peer feedback can contribute to improvements in student writing (Cho & MacArthur, 2010; Crossman & Kite, 2012). Though intuitively one might think that students would benefit most from receiving peer comments on their written work, several studies have shown that student writing benefits both from comments given as well as comments received–indeed, sometimes the former more than the latter (Li, Liu & Steckelberg, 2010; Cho & MacArthur, 2011).

There are, however, some gaps in the literature on the impact of peer feedback on improving student writing. First, most studies published on this topic consider the effect of peer feedback on revisions to a single essay, rather than on whether students use peer comments on one essay when writing another essay. Cho and MacArthur (2011) is an exception: the authors found that students who wrote reviews of writing samples by students in a past course produced better writing on a different topic than those who either only read those samples or who read something else. In addition, there is little research on what one might call a “dose-response” curve for the impact of peer feedback on student writing—how are the “doses” of peer feedback related to the “response” of improvement in writing? It could be that peer feedback is more effective in improving writing after a certain number of feedback sessions, and/or that there are diminishing returns after quite a few sessions.

To address these gaps in the literature, we designed a research study focusing on peer feedback in a first-year, writing intensive course at a large university in North America. In this course students write an essay every two weeks, and they meet every week for a full year in groups of four plus their professor to give comments on each others’ essays (the same group stays together for half or the full year, depending on the instructor). With between 20 and 22 such meetings per year, students get a heavy dose of peer feedback sessions, and this is a good opportunity to measure the dose-response curve mentioned above. We can also test the difference in the dose-response curve for the peer feedback groups that change halfway through the year versus those who remain the same over the year. Further, we can evaluate the degree to which students use comments given by others, as well as comments they give to others, on later essays.

While at times researchers try to gauge improvement in student work on the basis of peer feedback by looking at coarse evaluations of quality before and after peer feedback (e.g., Sullivan & Pratt, 1996; Braine, 2001), because many things besides peer feedback could go into improving the quality of student work, more specific links between what is said in peer feedback and changes in student work are preferable. Thus, we will compare each student’s later essays with comments given to them (and those they gave to others) on previous ones, to see if the comments are reflected in the later essays, using a process similar to that described in Hewett (2000).

During the 2013-2014 academic year we ran a pilot study with just one of those sections (sixteen students, out of whom thirteen agreed to participate), to refine our data collection and analysis methods. For the pilot program we collected ten essays from each of the students who agreed to participate, comments they received from their peers on those essays, as well as comments they gave to their peers. For each essay, students received comments from three other students plus the instructor. We will use the instructor comments to, first, see whether student comments begin to approach instructor comments over time, and to isolate those things that only students commented on (not the instructor) to see if students use those in their essays (or if they mainly focus on those things that the instructor said also).

In this session, the Principal Investigator will report on the results of this pilot study and what we have learned about dealing with such a large data set, whether we can see any patterns from this pilot group of thirteen students, and how we will design a larger study on the basis of these results.


It turned out that we were still in the process of coding all the data when I gave the presentation, so we don’t yet have full results. We have coded all the comments on all the essays (10 essays from 13 participants), but are still coding the essays themselves (had finished 10 essays each from 6 participants, so a total of 60 essays).

I’m not sure the slides themselves tell the whole story very clearly, but I’m happy to answer questions if anyone has any. I’m saving up writing a narrative about the results until we have the full results in (hopefully in a couple of months!).

We’re also putting in a grant proposal to run the study with a larger sample (didn’t get a grant last year we were trying to get…will try again this year).

Here are the slides!

Engaging students with OER

Near the end of May I worked with Jon Festinger and Will Engle to do a 1.5 hour workshop on how using and creating Open Educational Resources (OER) can have pedagogical value in courses (beyond saving students money, which is also important). You can see the basic abstract for the session in the wiki page embedded below.

Click here to see our slides for the workshop, on Google Slides (or see below).

We also created a wiki page for the event, which has numerous link to resources. We also tried to get small groups to post answers to discussion questions on the wiki, but as the event was held in the late afternoon, a bunch of people left when it was time to do the small group activity (I guess many instructors, like many students, think the “real action” is in the presentation rather than the group discussion!).

The wiki page for the workshop is embedded below.


About this session

"Increasing Student Engagement through Open Educational Resources" is a workshop held during the CTLT Institute in May 2015.


Open educational resources are educational materials (text, video, audio, and more) that are licensed to allow others to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain them free of cost. There are numerous pedagogical benefits to both using OER and creating OER in courses; this workshop will focus on a few of them, including the following.

Asking students to create OER in courses means, in part, asking them to create things that are available to and of use by other students in the course (both past, present and future) and by people beyond the course. Assignments that are read only by an instructor and/or teaching assistant can seem to be what David Wiley calls in a blog post “disposable”: “assignments that add no value to the world – after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away” (Resource here). If, instead, student work is adding value to the world, contributing to a larger body of knowledge that can be used by others, it is much more likely that they will be engaged in working on it and try to make it as good as possible. Examples of such assignments could be student blog posts, student-created web pages or wiki pages, videos, and more that others can see/hear/interact with and learn from. Another example that will be discussed in the session is having students edit an open textbook and share their edits openly.

Using OER in courses means asking students to read/watch/listen to/interact with educational materials for the course that are publicly available and licensed for reuse and (often) revision. Finding and assigning OER can allow for presentation of material in different ways: e.g., a textual resource can be augmented through finding and using a diagram, an image, a video, another text that explains things differently, etc. This can help both engage students and improve their understanding of course material. Further, if the OER are licensed to allow revision, students can edit them or mix them with other resources to create something new, both helping their own leaning and contributing OER for others to learn from.

In this session we will all discuss together the various kinds of open educational resources, including open textbooks, how to find OER for your courses, and several of the pedagogical benefits of creating and using OER.


Will Engle is a strategist for open education resources at UBC's Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology. He engaged with projects that are leveraging emerging technologies, approaches, and pedagogies to support open learning. With a background in library science, Will is interested in understanding and supporting the removal of barriers that limit access to education, information, and knowledge.

Jon Festinger, Q.C. (LL.B., B.C.L. 1980 McGill University) is a Vancouver, British Columbia based counsel and educator. He is an SFU Professor of Professional Practice and a faculty member of the Centre for Digital Media. Jon has taught media, entertainment and communications law topics at the UBC Faculty of Law for over two decades, as well as teaching at various times at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, the Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law and the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. He is the author of the first edition of “Video Game Law” published by LexisNexis in 2005, co-author of the 2nd Edition published in 2012. The open and on-line components of his courses can be found here & here. Jon was named a member of Creative Commons’ “Team Open” in 2014.

Christina Hendricks is a Sr. Instructor in Philosophy at UBC, and she also regularly teaches in the Arts One program. She has been a proponent of open education for several years, having participated in and few open online courses and been part of the design and facilitation team for others, including one with Peer 2 Peer University called Why Open?, and a course on Teaching with WordPress. She uses as many open educational resources in her teaching as she can, and posts many of her teaching materials as open educational resources herself.

Agenda and session outcomes


  1. Introductions--to us, to you
  2. Defining openness and open educational resources (OER) in groups
  3. Discussion of openness and OER
  4. Presentation on pedagogical benefits of OER and open courses
  5. Groups: take a "traditional" assignment and discuss how you might use what we've talked about today to transform it (and why)
  6. Conclusion

Session outcomes

By the end of the session, you should be able to:

  • Give a definition of “open” and/or open educational resources
  • Explain at least two pedagogical benefits to using and/or creating OER in teaching & learning
  • Explain one or more courses/projects at UBC using/creating OER
  • Say how you might adapt an activity or assignment to make it more "open," and why this would be pedagogically a good thing to do

Group activities

Click on your group number to go to the page where you can type in your answers to the questions in the group activities during the session.

To see all the groups' notes from the activities, click here:

You can also see how the group wiki pages look when embedded into a WordPress site, here:

Resources, links from the session or relevant to the session

Slides from the session

The slides used during the session can be found here (on Google Slides).

Examples of open courses or OER

A list of some examples can be found on the website, here:

Please add other examples that you know of, below!



Open Education

Creative Commons licenses

True Stories of Open Sharing

Watch some amazingly true stories of open sharing--the great stuff that can happen when we share our work openly:


Foucault, the sovereign, discipline & bio-power

I gave a presentation last night for the Vancouver Institute for Social Research, a fantastic program that provides free lectures at an art gallery downtown for anyone to attend. This term’s series has focused on sovereignty, and I decided to give a talk on Foucault’s claim that in common ways of thinking about power in political theory (in the 1970s at least), we still have not yet cut off the head of the king:

What we need … is a political philosophy that isn’t erected around the problem of sovereignty, nor therefore around the problems of law and prohibition. We need to cut off the King’s head: in political theory that has still to be done (Interview, “Truth and Power,” in Power/Knowledge, ed. Colin Gordon. Pantheon, 1980).

I contrasted the “juridico-discursive” view of power that, according to Foucault, has dominated political interpretations of power (and that is descended from the way monarchies came about and established themselves), with disciplinary power and bio-power.

You can get straight to the presentation here:

And here it is, embedded. There is also a videorecording; I’ll embed that as soon as it’s posted on YouTube!

Upcoming #TvsZ game and presentations at #et4online

#TvsZ is back! Running April 22-24, 2015. See the main website, here.

Plus, next week I and several other people are presenting on #TvsZ at the OLC “Emerging Technologies for Online Learning” 2015 conference.

What is #TvsZ?

That’s surprisingly difficult to answer. Here’s how I tried to describe it recently in an application for a teaching award, in which I discussed my work in open education.


Originally designed as a zombie game played on Twitter (and thus called “Twitter vs. Zombies”), we have also created a new version called “Technology vs. Zen.” Both games are played through Twitter, and are meant to bring people together in order to create collaborative stories. The other part of the purpose of the game is to help people learn how to use Twitter, and to give them motivation to create and share digital artifacts such as blog posts, images, videos, and more. The game usually happens over the course of a weekend, often lasting about three days.

Apocalypse, Flickr photo shared by Charles Hutchins, licensed  CC BY 2.0

Apocalypse, Flickr photo shared by Charles Hutchins, licensed CC BY 2.0

In “Twitter vs. Zombies” the overall setting of the game is a zombie apocalypse, where there are zombies who have started to infect humans. You can see the website for the third iteration of the zombie version, here: On Twitter, one can be bitten by a zombie through the use of a hashtag, and then has a certain number of minutes to dodge or be rescued by someone else before they turn into a zombie themselves. But the game goes beyond this; the most interesting parts of the game are when people take on missions where they have to add to the ongoing story in the game through a blog post, a picture, a video, a drawing they take a picture of, a song, or many other things. These aspects of the game happen through new rule releases that occur about every 12 hours:

In “Technology vs. Zen” the setting is an apocalyptic scene of unknown origin; participants are to imagine that they have woken up to find a wasteland around them, dead and dying plants, deserted city streets. The game site for this version is here: The point of the game is to figure out what has happened and to determine how to approach solving the problem. Players begin on one of two teams: “technology” or “nature,” each team devoted to either a technological solution or one that has to do with working more in tune with nature. Participants start out recruiting others for their teams, but then are asked to engage in missions such as finding food, building a shelter, describing what they think has happened, and determining an approach to solving the problem (examples of such missions can be found here:

A number of people have used #TvsZ in their courses, asking students to play in order to experience collaborative storytelling and connecting with people around the globe in a team that has to work together in order to accomplish their missions. They have also used it to show an example of open and emergent pedagogy, though outside of a specific course context. Finally, it serves as an engaging way to encourage students to learn how to create and post digital objects—though the game sites don’t have information on how to do so, participants learn this from each other (or from their instructor, if they are playing the game as part of a course). As the current TvsZ planning team wrote in an abstract for an upcoming conference presentation:

 This game builds digital literacy through creating avenues for participants to engage in international collaboration, to compose for a visible and active audience, and to craft personal learning networks. It is a dynamic experience for engaging students in transmedia storytelling and narrative collaboration, and it can democratize the classroom by blurring the line between teacher and student. The game design itself is democratized through emergent rules: players re-shape the rules and revise the narrative as the game unfolds. (This quote comes from the abstract reprinted below)


But even since writing that, the game has changed again. This time we’re thinking of not having any teams to start with and asking people to create their own teams. Thus, there might not be a “technology” team or a “nature” team, but entirely different ones.

That’s one of the wonderful things about this game: it is continually evolving. And not only between games, but within the game itself: rules change over time, new missions are created for teams to complete, and participants are asked to suggest changes during the game as well. And actually, participants sometimes just change the game themselves by choosing to do something quite different than what we designed; in a recent version, which had a divide between humans and zombies, a group of people decided they didn’t want to be either humans or zombies and participate in biting or escaping bites, but to rather be neutral commentators who created poetry about the game.

What does one get out of playing the game? Here are a couple of blog posts I found with reflections on experiences in various versions: one by Karen Young, and one by Kevin Hodgson.

And here’s a fabulous artifact created out of what the teams did in #TvsZ 6.0, thanks to @nanalou022, which gives a good sense of what that version of the game was like.


So what are we doing at the conference?

I think I’ll just let our abstracts, which are pretty detailed, speak for themselves. We have two presentations, a longer one and a shorter one.

Here’s the abstract for the long, 2.5 hour workshop. This one is called Perforate Your Classroom: Collaboratively Hack the Open Online Game #TvsZ 6.0.” During this workshop, people will learn about the game, start playing it, learn how it has been used in courses, and work together on how they might change it for their own educational purposes.

All of the following is from this #et4online webpage.


Participants will learn about and play the open online Twitter game #TvsZ, go through the process of hacking it, and discuss pedagogical benefits and challenges.

Extended Abstract

This workshop will invite participants to explore the pedagogical value of perforating oneÍs classroom: opening it up for students to learn with others online in loosely facilitated social media experiences. The seven international collaborating facilitators will share their experience of co-facilitating an open online game. The facilitators, who teach in Egypt, Canada, New York, Georgia, and California, will share their cross-institutional, cross-border experience of hacking #TvsZ and playing it with their students.

#TvsZ is an open online Twitter game played across an increasing variety of online sites and apps. The game, created originally in 2012 by Pete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel, is usually played over 3-4 days by anyone who chooses to follow the Twitter hashtag #TvsZ, as well as students in participating classes. Players, who are often meeting virtually for the first time, interact with each other on Twitter via a basic game dynamic which encourages informal, spontaneous tweets relating to the game premise. As players develop increasing familiarity with other players and with the basic syntax of game tweets, additional game dynamics are introduced, often in response to player suggestions and initiatives. These additional dynamics encourage players to create a wide variety of media objects, to experiment with new modes of networked collaboration, and to refashion their roles in the game itself.

This game builds digital literacy through creating avenues for participants to engage in international collaboration, to compose for a visible and active audience, and to craft personal learning networks. It is a dynamic experience for engaging students in transmedia storytelling and narrative collaboration, and it can democratize the classroom by blurring the line between teacher and student. The game design itself is democratized through emergent rules: players re-shape the rules and revise the narrative as the game unfolds. Although #TvsZ had been played multiple times before, the diverse interests and backgrounds of the co-facilitators as well as the international flavor, led to an interest in hacking the game in order to meet the different needs of their students and their own diverse teaching agendas.

The basic structure of the game can be revised in numerous ways, however, and participants in the workshop will brainstorm how they might do so for their own teaching and learning contexts. For example, while most versions of #TvsZ started with a Zombie narrative of biting and converting human players, the 6.0 version was intentionally kept zombie-free and non-violent.

Our workshop will be experiential: one must play the game to get a good sense of how and why one might want to hack it. Workshop participants will play a short version of one of the #TvsZ games and brainstorm their own forks of the game, and discuss possible repercussions of various modifications to such a game. They will also discuss possible pedagogical benefits to including a game like #TvsZ in their curricula, as well as potential problems one might encounter when doing so (and how such problems might be addressed).

Workshop Interaction/Takeaways:
Participants will play a version of #TvsZ, go through the process of hacking it, and (time-permitting) try out aspects of their hacked version during the workshop. Participants will discuss pedagogical benefits of using such a game in their classes, possible challenges and approaches to assessing learning.

Pete Rorabaugh (Southern Polytechnic State University, USA)
Andrea Rehn (Whittier College, USA)
Christina Hendricks (University of British Columbia – Vancouver, Canada)
JR Dingwall (University of Alberta, Canada)
Maha Bali (American University in Cairo, Egypt)
Additional Authors
Janine DeBaise (SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, USA)
Lizzie Finnegan (D’Youville College, USA)



Here’s our abstract for the shorter session. This one is called “Perforating the Classroom: How Hacking the Online Game #TvsZ 6.0 Brings Together Faculty, Students and Community Members.” It is just for talking about how we changed the original #TvsZ from a zombie narrative to a more generic apocalypse narrative, and why, and how we engaged in cross-world collaboration to do so.

The following is from this webpage for #et4online.


Learn about the collaborative hacking and hosting of #TvsZ, an open online Twitter game which fosters digital literacies/network fluencies

Extended Abstract

#TvsZ is an open online Twitter game played across an increasing variety of online sites and apps. The game, created originally in 2012 by Pete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel, is usually played over 3-4 days by anyone who chooses to follow the Twitter hashtag #TvsZ, as well as students in participating classes. Players, who are often meeting virtually for the first time, interact with each other on Twitter via a basic game dynamic which encourages spontaneous tweets relating to the game premise. As players develop increasing familiarity with other players and with the basic syntax of game tweets, additional game dynamics are introduced, often in response to player suggestions and initiatives. These additional dynamics encourage players to create a wide variety of media objects, to experiment with new modes of networked collaboration, and to refashion their roles in the game itself.

The rationale for #TvsZ is simple; we call it the “perforated classroom” mode of teaching and learning. In this era of information abundance and fast-changing socio-economic paradigms, both students and teachers require new and different skills. Students need to learn to contextualize ideas through efficient web-enabled research practices, to share their results through effective multi-modal communication, to discover new resources and connect to emerging networks of experts as they prepare for lives which may require many transitions among fields. Teachers need to learn to model these these skills by interacting with students as curators of information and connected, public co-learners. The perforated classroom thus embodies these various methods of connection, while also enriching the possibilities of teacher-student, student-student, student-community, and student-teacher-community-global rapport beyond the classroom itself.

#TvsZ 6.0, played November 14-16, 2014, refashioned the premise and dynamics of play to respond to contemporary events, and to better adapt to the cultural and temporal distances among players and game facilitators. The global nature of the #TvsZ 6.0 facilitation team and their students resulted in some unique emergent dynamics during the game, which this presentation will highlight. While previous versions began with a Zombie infection narrative, the 6.0 version was intentionally kept zombie-free and non-violent.

#TvsZ 6.0 was hosted by a group of seven international collaborating scholars with varying types of expertise (and familiarity with the game itself) and with different institutional roles and teaching goals. We, and our students, live in three countries (Canada, Egypt and the US) and four widely separated time zones. While our students all speak English, many also use at least one other language as a primary mode of communication. Our students ranged from freshmen to seniors in college, and the participating classes focused on disciplines and topics. Two of the game hosts did not directly involve their own students, but facilitated the game out of a commitment to open learning itself. More than 150 players participated in the online game: some as students completing assigned work, some participating in extra credit activities, some who were invited to play to help them learn twitter literacy, some to learn about creative game design. In addition, many players from the Twitterverse (including veteran #TvsZ players from previous iterations) participated for the sheer fun of it.

This presentation will focus on #TvsZ 6.0’s cycle of collaborative development, focusing on the value of social networks for instructor collaboration, and sharing our experience of a cross-border, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural collaboration between teachers and students, from game host & student perspectives. By exploring a few of the media objects created by game participants, we will also discuss various methods for evaluating the outcomes of student, teacher, and community peer-learner collaborations. Each step of development and implementation exemplifies a stage in the digital fluency that the game promotes by involving people in the fun and frenzied creativity of participation, by inviting participants to collaborate and co-learn techniques of multimodal media creation, by tempting collaborators to become partners in the management of the game during gameplay, and by player-partners becoming hosts and hackers of future iterations of the game itself.

Open online games extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom, augmenting studentsÍ understanding of knowledge networks. The reflexive nature of #TvsZ and the other games it may spawn creates space to enjoy the game experience while critiquing its shortcomings (e.g., in terms of how language, pop culture, and even time zones affect players in different parts of the world). Students engage in collaborative, experiential, and self-directed learning, developing Twitter literacy about the values, as well as the potential risks, of using social media to network. They learn by doing; rather than following linear modules, they learn from how others are playing the game and they ask the community for help. They also learn about power dynamics in gaming and social media. Hacking the game into a more collaborative narrative, and playing it with students from different countries and cultures provided insights not previously visible in #TvsZ iterations, such as how game rules (in terms of time limits and timezones) could affect equity in the game, how cultural attitudes could affect students’ gameplay, and how to develop game dynamics that would encourage students to venture outside the safety of their classmates and play with strangers online.

Andrea Rehn (Whittier College, USA)
Maha Bali (American University in Cairo, Egypt)
Pete Rorabaugh (Southern Polytechnic State University, USA)
JR Dingwall (University of Alberta, Canada)
Christina Hendricks (University of British Columbia – Vancouver, Canada)
Additional Authors
Lizzie Finnegan (D’Youville College, USA)
Janine DeBaise (SUNY-College of Environmental Science; Forestry, USA)
Sherif Osman (American University in Cairo, Egypt)

Presentation at Open Ed conference 2014 (on UBC’s Policy 81)

I have been waiting to make this post, because like last year, all the sessions this year were videorecorded, and I was going to wait until the recordings were posted on Youtube so I could embed mine here. But the conference was in November of 2014, and it’s now February of 2015, and the Open Education Conference Youtube channel still just has the keynotes from the 2014 conference up. So I’m going to at least post my slides here.

This presentation is from the Open Education Conference 2014 in Washington, DC. It was about UBC’s Policy 81, and my fears that it may have lead to enough bad feelings among some people at UBC that they are no longer willing to share teaching materials with an open license. I did a small survey (28 people responded) of faculty members at UBC who had opted out of Policy 81 by signing up on a registry to do so, and found that that was indeed the case for some.

Now, just this week a revised Policy 81 has come out, and the university is asking for comments. I have a blog post about that too.

Here are the slides from my presentation:


I also have a lengthy set of notes for the presentation (surprisingly lengthy, given that I spoke for about 20-25 minutes, if I remember correctly (so obviously I skimmed over much of this!). In case you’re wanting more background on any of this, you can check out the notes:


Finally, as a result of this presentation, I was interviewed by Jenni Hayman of the Open Policy Network about UBC’s Policy 81. You can see a video recording of this interview, which was done via Skype, on the OPN blog.


Governance at UBC

At the presentation at the conference, some people asked about whether or not there was shared governance at UBC–how could it be that the administration and the faculty union were so at odds on this issue? A good question. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how governance works at UBC, but here’s what I do know.

The policy was passed by the Board of Governors, which consists of (according to the University Act of BC)

  • the UBC Chancellor
  • the UBC President
  • 11 people appointed by the lieutenant governor, two of whom should be from a list of nominees from the alumni association
  • 3 students (undergrad or grad)
  • 3 faculty members
  • 2 UBC employees who are not faculty members

So there are just three faculty members out of 21 people on the board, and 11 out of those 21 are not currently at UBC (though two of those 11 are probably alumni, from what I can tell). The faculty voice, then, is pretty small.

There is also the Senate of UBC, which is part of the overall governance. The membership of the Senate is pretty complicated, so I’ll just copy here from the University Act, part 7:

(a) the chancellor;

(b) the president, who is the senate’s chair;

(c) the academic vice president who must work through a part not specified under section 3.1 or equivalent;

(d) the deans of faculties who must work through a part not specified under section 3.1;

(e) the chief librarian or a person designated for the purpose by the chief librarian;

(f) the director of continuing education or a person designated for the purpose by the director;

(g) a number of faculty members equal to twice the number of senate members provided in paragraphs (a) to (f), to consist of 2 members of each faculty elected by the members of that faculty, and the remainder elected by the faculty members in the manner that they, in joint meeting, determine, but only faculty members employed through parts not specified under section 3.1 can vote or be elected;

(h) a number of students, equal to the number of senate members provided in paragraphs (a) to (f), elected from the students who are members of an undergraduate student society or a graduate student society, in a manner that ensures that at least one student from each faculty is elected, but only students studying through parts not specified under section 3.1 can vote or be elected;

(i) 4 persons who are not faculty members, elected by and from the convocation;

(j) one member to be elected by the governing body of each affiliated college of the university;

(k) additional members, determined by the senate, without altering the ratio set out in paragraphs (g) and (h).

So clearly, the Senate has a much greater representation of the faculty than the Board of Governors. But which body does what?

The Board of Governors website lays out the different responsibilities of the two. Briefly, according to that site:

The Board of Governors is responsible for the business of the University – its administration, finances, operations, assets and place in the community – and the integrity of such.

The Senates have a more focused responsibility for the academic integrity of the University, subject to the Board’s involvement where academic matters interface with matters of business and the larger community.

According to the longer list on the site, the Board of Governors has a say in most of the activities and policies of the university. The things that the Senate determines on its own are mostly to do with academic matters, such as academic discipline, final exams, admit students, grant degrees, and manage the library.

The procedure for adopting policies by the Board of Governors, such as Policy 81, seems to be that the policy is proposed, then there is a comment period, and then a vote is held among the Board. The UBC Faculty Association (our faculty union) expressed serious concerns about Policy 81 in February 2014, but the policy was passed anyway.


A revised policy

In February 2015, a revised policy 81 was put forward for comment. Please see a later blog post for information on that.

Two presentations on open education and MOOCs at UBC in 2013

I am trying to keep a record of all my presentations here on this blog, because otherwise I forget about them! Which I did; there are two presentations from 2013 that I gave at UBC on open education and MOOCs. The slides for these have been on Slideshare for awhile, but I’m not posting them here so I have a record of everything in one place.

However, these presentations are not terribly self-explanatory on their own (lots of pictures sometimes w/o a lot of text), and I no longer have my notes for them, unfortunately. So really, this is just as a record that I did them, for myself.

Here’s one I gave at the CTLT Institute at UBC in May of 2013, on open education and connectivist MOOCs. I talked about the difference between “xMOOCs” and “cMOOCs,” gave some examples of cMOOCs, and used my recent experience with ETMOOC as an example to illustrate the cMOOC model.


And here’s a similar one I gave during Open UBC week in October of 2013, but this time talking about what I myself am doing in terms of open education. I talked about two open online courses that I was part of designing and facilitating: OOE13 and Why Open?. I also talked about what aspects of my on-campus courses I was making openly available, including in Philosophy 102 and through the Arts One Open site.

The “open” in MOOCs

I was part of a debate on the value of MOOCs for higher education during UBC’s Open Access Week, on Oct. 29, 2014.

Here is the description of the event and speaker bios, from the Open UBC 2014 website (not sure how long the link is going to be active, so copied the description here). (The following text is licensed CC-BY)

Debate: Are MOOCs Good for Higher Education?


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are subject to both hype and criticism. In 2012, the New York Times declared it was the year of MOOC, while critics branded 2013 as the year of the anti-MOOC. Today, the debate about the impact that MOOCs are having, and will have, on higher education continues and the topic of MOOCs often dominates conversations and questions about how changes in technologies, pedagogies, learning analytics, economics, student demographics, and open education will impact student learning. Many universities, including UBC, are experimenting with MOOCs in different ways – from trying to understand how to scale learning to how to best use MOOC resources on campus.
This session will explore different types of MOOCs, the possible role for MOOCs in higher education, and their benefits and drawbacks.

Speaker Bios.

Angela Redish (moderator) is the University of British Columbia’s Vice Provost and Associate Vice President for Enrollment and Academic Facilities. Dr. Redish served as a professor in the Department of Economics in the Faculty of Arts at UBC for nearly 30 years. She received her PhD in Economics from the University of Western Ontario, and her subsequent research studied the evolution of the European and North American monetary and banking systems. She served as Special Adviser at the Bank of Canada in 2000-2001, and continues to be active in monetary policy debates. Her teaching has been mainly in the areas of economic history, monetary and macro-economies.

Jon Beasley-Murray is an Associate Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of British Columbia. He has taught a wide range of courses, from Spanish Language to Latin American literature surveys and seminars on topics ranging from “The Latin American Dictator Novel” to “Mexican Film.” His  use of Wikipedia in the classroom has led to press coverage in multiple languages across the globe.

Jon is a vocal critic of the current model of learning and assessment common in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), especially for the Humanities. He blogs at Posthegemony and is the author of Posthegemony: Political Theory and Latin America. His current book projects include “American Ruins,” on the significance of six ruined sites from Alberta, Canada, to Santiago de Chile. He is also working on a project on “The Latin American Multitude,” which traces the relationships between Caribbean piracy and the Spanish state, and indigenous insurgency and the discourse of Latin American independence.

Gregor Kiczales is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. Most of his research has focused on programming language design and implementation. He is best known for his work on aspect-oriented programming, and he led the Xerox PARC team that developed aspect-oriented programming and AspectJ. He is a co-author of “The Art of the Metaobject Protocol” and was one of the designers of the Common Lisp Object System (CLOS).  He is also the instructor for the Introduction to Systematic Program Design MOOC at Coursera. His discussion of the benefits of MOOCs can be found on the Digital Learning blog.

Christina Hendricks is a Senior Instructor in Philosophy and Arts One at the University of British Columbia. While on sabbatical during the 2012-2013 academic year, she participated in a number of MOOCs, of different types. Ever since then she has used her MOOC participation as a form of professional development and a way to make connections with other teachers and researchers around the world. She has also been one of the co-facilitators for an open online course (not massive) at Peer 2 Peer University called“Why Open?”, and is a part of a project called Arts One Open that is opening up the Arts One program as much as possible to the public.


For my portion of the debate, I wanted to talk about openness (duh…it was open access week!) and the degree to which what many people think of as MOOCs are open (some of them not very). I talked a bit about OERs (open educational resources) and open textbooks as ways to make MOOCs more open, and also about opening up the curriculum and content to co-creation by participants. This led me to cMOOCs, which could be described as having a more open pedagogy. I briefly touched on the value of cMOOCs for higher education, partly as professional development for faculty and for lifelong learning for students.

Jon Beasley-Murray has posted a copy of what he said during this debate, on his blog.

I’m told this session was recorded and the recording will be posted on YouTube, but I don’t think it’s there yet. In the meantime, here are my slides from the debate. I just had 12 minutes max, though I expect I went over time a bit!