Open UBC

Open Snippets

It looks like the 2018 AMS Academic Experience Survey (AES) has officially been published and one interesting finding is that 86% of undergrad respondents reported that they have used open educational resources in lieu of textbooks at least once.

The Ubyssey covers the expanding conversation around the affordability of learning materials, including the cost of online assessment materials, and mentions open educational resources as having a role to play in possible mitigation strategies.

Meanwhile, OpenCon 2018 will be in Toronto this year — OpenCon is an international open ed, open data, open access event for students and “early career” professionals. Interested folks have to apply to be able to attend as they attempt to “bring together a diverse, representative, and engaged group of participants, with travel scholarships available to most participants”.

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Open Policies, Open UBC

Open as a TLEF Priority Focus

UBC-Vancouver’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) was created in 1991 to enrich student learning by supporting innovative and effective educational enhancements.

Starting in the 2017/2018 cycle, a priority focus on the development or integration of open educational resources (OER) was added to the criteria for new proposals. Furthermore, eligibility requirements were also added that specifically stated that funded projects are encouraged to openly license their developed materials under an appropriate Creative Commons license to allow for broad sharing within and beyond UBC.

Open UBC Image

Approximately 25% of the 2017/2018 TLEF funded projects had an explicit open strategy. In the 2018/2019 cycle, more than 39 percent of the TLEF funded projects incorporated strategies around open resources or practices.

The TLEF is Funded By Students

The TLEF is financed through a portion of the student tuition paid to UBC Vancouver. According to the 2016 AMS Student Experience Survey (pdf), nearly 75% of students have not bought a course text due to cost at least once and 37% reported. Access to educational materials is an important topic for students as they often or frequently go without textbooks or resources due to cost. Open educational resources and practices can help close those access barriers.

Examples of Open Education Projects Funded by the TLEF

Please visit the UBC TLEF site for a complete list of TLEF funded projects.

This post was adapted from the TLEF and Open Education Poster presented at the TLEF Showcase. The original poster can be downloaded here.

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Tools

New to Me Resources: June 2017 Edition

Here’s a list of new (to me) open resources:

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Open Policies

Institutional Support for OER

An emerging motivation for uptake of open education resources and practices at UBC is the increased presence of University policies and programs that support OER. The 2016/17 edition of the Guide to Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Procedures at UBC (pdf) includes contributions to open educational resources and repositories as a possible criteria for evidence of educational leadership (p. 16, 19 & 51) for those instructors in the educational leadership stream. I believe that the inclusion of open resources and repositories in a promotion and tenure guideline is pretty unique at this point (although many institutions have open access policies).

Additionally, both the 2018 UBC-V Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund and the 2018/19 Aspire Teaching and Learning Fund at UBC have priority focus areas for the development or integration of open educational resources that are intended to be used in a course, multiple courses within a program, or across several programs. The 2018 TLEF call for Large TLEF proposals is now open and letters of intent are due July 14, 2017.

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Purpose

Dealing Critically with Reality

David Moscrop recently wrote in Maclean’s that “the right to speech is meaningless unless it is underwritten by a public that knows things—that is, an educated public.” However, in his book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire writes that education is not neutral; instead he states:

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

Recently, the UBC Library hosted an open mic event on Freedom of Expression in the Post Truth Era and I had the opportunity to listen to amazing students, professors, librarians, and poets reflect on the state of truth and knowledge in today’s world. As I listened, I was reminded of Freire’s framing of education as a means to “deal critically with reality” – a framing that I think gets to right to the role of the university. If we are, indeed, in a post truth world, it’s not simply enough to read, learn, or know something, we also have to be able to critique and evaluate what it is and how we know it.

Lately, I’ve been involved in a number of conversations about how to embed digital literacies into curriculum; put simply, how do we help students learn the skills needed to evaluate whether something is true or not? I often promote the pedagogical model known as the student as producer model. This model came out out of  a project at the University of Lincoln where they were shifting from research informed teaching to research engaged teaching; I partly interpret this as pushing the values and processes of research into the undergraduate curriculum. Why this model is important is that I think that many aspects inherent in research lend themselves to the sort of competencies involved in critique and digital literacies.

In his open textbook Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Mike Caulfield outlines four strategies for getting closer to the truth of an online claim:

  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  • Go upstream to the source: Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  • Circle back: If you get lost, or hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.

Or, as one faculty member at the open mic event succinctly framed it: “don’t be gullible and lazy.”

What I enjoy about these strategies is how common they are to research. Knowledge is not created in a vacuum and research is often a critique on the current understanding. Writing a literature review is an exercise in evaluating sources, following the discussion, and trying different search approaches to find additional context.  Publishing research is the act of creation and the act opening ourselves up to critique.  Embedding the values of research into teaching and learning embeds the processes of acquiring digital literacies into the student experience.

Martin Weller writes in his open textbook The Battle for Open that, increasingly, the narrative around the role of the university is “one of a straightforward investment  transaction –  students pay a certain fee, and in return they receive an education that will allow them to earn more money later in life.” However, if this becomes the prevailing role of the university, I think we all miss out. We must value inclusivity and empathy and we must also promote critique. We should question what we know and how we know it, so, as Freire wrote, education becomes the practice of freedom.

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