about my research

In my last post, I’ve mentioned that I am back to school, initially motivated by, and wanting to research, the Student as Producer as pedagogy; it showed the great promise in practice with Eduardo Jovel’s, Will Valley’s, and Judy Chan’s  courses at Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

The original thought was to do something along those lines, perhaps exploring the potential of Student as Producer in enabling “research-engaged” rather than “research-informed” teaching and learning. Very quickly though, I’ve realized that the Student as Producer and similar progressive pedagogies, or rather, philosophies that, in theory, should be a natural fit for publicly funded university are actually not fitting well at all to the current climate.

Whether it is the dearth of interest of senior administration or their inability to position it within current techno-pedagogical ecosystem, and consequent absence of promotional or professional development programs to inform and support faculty members, non-existence of learning technologies infrastructure and framework development roadmap for the open technologies, or intellectual property issues, it was clear that faculty  and educational technologists interested in Student as Producer and similar themes, are facing paralyzing lack of means to engage in something that seems relatively simple to implement,that is sustainable by its nature and well-aligned with university values.

“So…”, I thought, “perhaps I could analyze that”? To cut a long story short, I am now in the process of writing the proposal titled: Assessing Readiness for Open Education in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. It seems quite a change of gears, and also quite a bit larger task,  going from one relatively narrow topic to exploring the meaning of and readiness for Open and its flavours within academia. But then, even a title is a work in progress though, and I am not certain if this is the final iteration. Assuming for a moment it is, here is what I plan to do:

  • Examine the notion of Open within in higher-ed and specifically with UBC.
    Research the existing literature and explore what is meant by Open in higher-ed, and across its different domains (teaching, learning, research, administration); focus on specifics of the University of  British Columbia and the Faculty of Land and Food Systems in particular by examining elements such as mission statement, vision, values and commitments  – looking for UBC’s pledge to Open at the highest level. That will be contrasted to the common teaching and learning practices  in order to assess whether commitments to openness and sharing actually made their way through to the teaching and learning at UBC
  • Inventory the types (i.e. Open Educational Resources, Open Research and Data…) of Open that are relevant for teaching, learning and research at the UBC/LFS. This is quite significant part of my research as it will help determine the scope of my research.
  • Inventory items (struggling with naming here – subtypes, samples, resources, products, representatives, items?) for each type of Open. For example, Open Educational Resources could be broken down into open textbooks, (arguably) MOOCs, blogs and wikis, etc..  
  • Create rubrics and run surveys/questionnaires/ focus groups to evaluate these Open subtypes, based on their functions and impact. Let’s take a UBC Wiki page as an example to see what some candidate rubrics could look like:
    • Creation/maintenance. I am looking here into who is involved in creation of the resource and how it is maintained over time (sustainability of the resource). For example, UBC Wiki pages are typically created and maintained by students in their courses, but could also be created by any other UBC single-sign-on account holder. This exclude anyone outside of UBC unless they have a sponsored account.
    • Consumption. Who is using this resource? UBC Wiki pages are open and visible to everyone. The primary audience are UBC students but they seem to be quite popular and seeked and accessed by other academics and learners, and general public. Many pages are seen tens of thousands times.
    • Other rubrics include how particular type affects student success; how much it contributes to public interest; does it build towards university’s recognition and promotion efforts.
  • Creation of the Readiness Assessment Tool. I am planning to design a tool  based on Bates’ and Sangra’s Criteria for Assessing the Success or Otherwise of Technology Integration and run surveys/questionnaires/focus groups to evaluate factors impacting readiness for open.  Here are some early candidates/groups to be surveyed:
    • UBC’s senior leadership – questions around their perception of and interest in Open; also, resulting strategy and budget. This is going to be an interesting one – is your favourite Open thingy hot or not? We know that levels of local “hotness” are quite aligned with what is hot topic at the current Educasue conference.
    • University IT ’s and LT’s (Learning Technology) leadership readiness to create and support technological framework that enables Open.
    • Policies towards intellectual property and licensing
    • Professional development programs and faculty support to engage in Open.
  • Analyze data and try to answer the question: “How ready is the university to engage in Open Education”?



my thesis, opened.

For those who didn’t know, I’ve been back in school for a few years now, in the Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems, mentored by Eduardo Jovel. It started around my interest in Student as Producer, combined with Eduardo’s exciting work in experiential learning. I feel fortunate to work with my committee members: Jon Beasley-Murray, Maja Krzic, Will Valley and Christina Hendricks who has just agreed to join. I also feel very lucky for having a chance to communicate and get support from such greats like: Tony Bates, Will Engle, Brian LambGeorge Veletsianos and Joss Winn, among others.

Last year I switched from MSc to PhD program and all of the sudden everything looks quite a bit bigger and more complex . These days, I am trying to wrap up my proposal – work involving literature review (haven’t found much directly relevant stuff), figuring out exactly what the scope is, and making a timeline. While a lot of this is still unclear, one thing is crystallizing (discussed with and stimulated by Christina Hendricks): I’d like to expose my way through this work and make this blog a useful tool in organizing and communicating my thoughts and ideas, seeking feedback and documenting progress. And how could I not, as my research, among other things, explores the notion of open in higher-ed.

My relationship with publishing online has been quite long, intermittent  and it took various forms. I’ve been restarting my blog many times in last 10 years and published perhaps a handful of posts of some interest to my fellow educational technologists. For whatever reason I never warmed up to Twitter but I do use Facebook occasionally. My photography, on the other hand, expressed through my Flickr account, fared quite a bit better resulting in at least two book covers, numerous other photos used on websites and other promotional materials. So with a mixed record, I am looking forward to exploring open in open!