Tag Archives: open textbooks

Three open textbooks published

As noted in some earlier blog posts, I am the series editor for a series of nine open textbooks designed for Introduction to Philosophy courses. I already announced the publication on this blog of the first book in the series, Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind (published in September 2019).

Book cover with the title Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics, Edited by George Matthews, and featuring a painting of two girls sitting side by side on a beach with a boat in the background

Cover for Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics. Cover art by Heather Salazar. Cover design by Jonathan Lashley. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

I forgot to announce the second book, Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics, which was published in December 2019. This book was edited by George Matthews, Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, USA. It has chapters on, among other things, ethical relativism, virtue ethics, utilitarianism, Kantianism, feminist ethics.

Here is the book description:

We often make judgments about good and bad, right and wrong. Philosophical ethics is the critical examination of these and other concepts central to how we evaluate our own and each others’ behavior and choices.

This text examines some of the main threads of discussion on these topics that have developed over the last couple of millenia, mostly within the Western cultural tradition. It considers basic questions about moral and ethical judgment: Is there such a thing as something that is really right or really wrong independent of time, place and perspective? What is the relationship between religion and ethics? How can we reconcile self-interest and ethics? Is it ever acceptable to harm one person in order to help others? What do recent discussions in evolutionary biology or have to say about human moral systems? What is the relation between gender and ethics? The authors invite you to participate in their exploration of these and many other questions in philosophical ethics.

And now there are two more books in the series!

Book cover with the title Introduction to Philosophy: Logic, Edited by Benjamin Martin, with a painting of a person holding cards in their hand

Cover for Introduction to Philosophy: Logic. Cover art by Heather Salazar. Cover design by Jonathan Lashley. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

Introduction to Philosophy: Logic was published in November 2020. It is edited by Benjamin Martin, University of Bergen, Norway. This is a short book designed not for a full course in logic, but rather to introduce some basic elements of logic in a course that is focused on introductory-level philosophy. It has chapters on, among others, evaluating arguments, informal fallacies, and formal logic.

The logic book took quite awhile as I learned how to use LaTeX to do symbolic logic characters and formulas in a way that would look decent in the book and also be as accessible as possible (b/c Pressbooks uses MathJax to render LaTeX). I also played around a lot trying to figure out how to get the arguments in standard form to be both as accessible as possible and look okay with a line between the premises and conclusion. I wrote a bit about some of the things I was learning while working on this book in a blog post from January 2020. Things were moving along pretty well in February 2020 and then … COVID-19 and my workload (along with that of many other people at the university) skyrocketed.

I used to work on this book series late at night and on weekends, and suddenly I needed all of that time on my regular job, just have some semblance of being only somewhat behind in my work (never fully caught up). I was utterly exhausted for about 8 months, with little in the way of breaks. Being Academic Director of a Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology at a university that suddenly turns from a mostly in-person teaching and learning context to mostly online, with all the attendant issues that causes in multiple systems and processes that weren’t designed for this switch, turns out to be huge amount of work. It still is, as it seems each month brings an unexpected challenge. But I am managing to find about 4-5 hours a week to work on this project now at least, which I wasn’t before.

So I’m excited that any book got published at all in 2020, and we managed two!

Book cover with the title Introduction to Philosophy of Religion, edited by Beau Branson, with a painting of a woman praying

Cover for Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion. Cover art by Heather Salazar. Cover design by Jonathan Lashley. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion was published in December 2020. It is edited by Beau Branson, Brescia University, Kentucky, USA. It is also a concise book, with six chapters focused on arguments for and against the existence of God as well as a concluding chapter questioning the focus on monotheism in current philosophy of religion.

Here is the book description:

Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion introduces students to some of the major traditional arguments for and against the existence of God. It also includes discussions of some less well-known, but thought-provoking arguments for the existence of God, and one of the most important new challenges to religious belief from the Cognitive Science of Religion. An introductory chapter traces the deep interconnections between philosophy and religion throughout Western history, and a final chapter considers what place there is for non-Western and non-monotheistic religions within contemporary philosophy of religion.

Whatever your religious beliefs—or lack of beliefs—we think you will find many of the arguments in this book fascinating to think about, and useful starting points for deeper philosophical discussions.


In other news regarding books in this series, the Aesthetics book has gone through peer review and I have recently finished reading the chapters as well, and the Epistemology book has gone through peer review and I am currently reading those chapters as series editor. Metaphysics is next up for peer review, and Philosophy of Science is still seeking authors. Finally, we have a new editor for Social and Political Philosophy, and a new outline of chapters will be announced soon and we’ll be seeking authors for that one too!

Intro to Philosophy open textbook series featured in Rebus Community Reports

Cover of Rebus Community Reports, by Donna Langille. Image licensed CC BY 4.0


As discussed here on this blog before, I am the series editor for a series of open textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy courses that are in progress with the support of The Rebus Community.

This project has been featured in Rebus Community Reports, a series of narratives about creating open textbooks, by people who are working with Rebus Community. I was interviewed by Donna Langille for this resource, and she did an excellent job of writing up our project!

An excerpt:

Having been advocating for OER in a broad sense, Christina received a fellowship with BCcampus, to work on advocacy and research on open textbooks. It led her to see the value in the way that OER authors can mix and match together different pieces of content—one chapter from here, another from there. It provides the flexibility to create a custom textbook, but without having to reinvent the wheel at every step.

Around that time, Christina met Rebus’s Hugh McGuire, who told her about the community publishing initiative that they were about to launch. Would she be interested in leading one of the selected pilot projects? … And thus, in early 2017, the Introduction to Philosophy project was born.

It’s been over two years (and counting!) but we’re still going strong and the results of the labours of many, many volunteers on this project are finally emerging! One of the books in the series, Philosophy of Mind, has recently been published, and the Ethics book will be published imminently. Stay tuned for more books published in 2020!

And check out the other stories of open textbook creation with Rebus Community in this book!

Intro to Philosophy of Mind published

Book cover: Introduction to Philosophy of Mind, Edited Heather Salazar, Series Editor Christina Hendricks

Cover for the book Design by Jonathan Lashley, art by Heather Salazar. Licensed CC BY 4.0.

As noted in my last post, I’ve been working with a number of people on a series of open textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy courses, published with the support of the Rebus Community.

And we now have the first book in a planned series of nine books published: Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind, edited by Heather Salazar.

This has been quite a long time in the making; some of the story of how we got to this point is in the previous post, though I need to sit down and write a longer post (or series of posts) to tell more of the story. Suffice it to say at this point that this book, and the other books currently in process, would not have happened without the hard work of the book editors for each book, the authors of chapters, the peer reviewers, copy editors, those helping with formatting in Pressbooks, our cover designer Jonathan Lashley, and many more. Special thanks goes to the Rebus team, including in particular Apurva Ashok (who has helped quite a lot in the last year or two) and Zoe Wake Hyde (who was deeply involved in the project at the beginning. And Hugh McGuire for believing in the project enough to take us on as a pilot in the early stages of Rebus!

Here is the official book release announcement on the Rebus blog. Please share with anyone you think might be interested!

Open Textbook for Intro to Philosophy

Drawing of a book with "open textbooks" on it, and arrows pointing out to people using the book in various contexts

Open Textbooks, by Giulia Forsythe on Flickr, licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


After talking about it for a few years, I am finally able to start working on an open textbook for introduction to philosophy courses. There are a few of us working on it already, and we’re going to need all the help we can get…so this post is to introduce the project and talk about how others can get involved.

Open textbooks

First, what is an “open textbook”? The easiest way to think about it is that it is like any other textbook except in two crucial respects:

First, it is free of cost to students. There is no price tag. This comes with another implication: we are doing this for free ourselves. There is no publisher who is paying us to create the textbook, and there are no “royalties.” But frankly, I can’t imagine ever making much off of a textbook anyway (how many new textbooks are there a year, and how many actually make money? I don’t know but I am skeptical of it being terribly lucrative in philosophy).

Second, open textbooks have an “open license” that allows others to reuse, revise, remix it with other things and release new versions publicly for others to use, revise, etc. The most common open licenses for educational resources like this are Creative Commons licenses, which come in several versions. See this CC page for a general discussion of the licenses and different license types; the University of British Columbia Creative Commons Guide has further information, including a comparison chart. The license we will be using for this textbook is the most permissible of the CC licenses that require attribution of the original content creators: CC BY, which lets content be used and revised by anyone for any purpose as long as the original creators are attributed.

Why do this?

I can’t speak for others, but I myself have two main motivations, having to do with the two characteristics of open textbooks given above.

  • Saving students money
    • Textbooks are expensive, and getting more so as time goes by. There is a good deal of research on open textbooks that explains the costs to students and how this affects them not just financially but pedagogically (e.g., when they go without textbooks because they are too expensive, or choose what courses to take based on textbook costs). I am co-author on an article whose literature review details some of this literature; I’ll try to remember to link to it here when it comes out (it’s in press right now). Or you can check out this 2016 research review on open textbooks by John Hilton (open access), though it doesn’t have information on costs.
    • I also get frustrated that students are paying a lot of money and I might not be using the whole textbook. Which leads to…
  • Ability to revise the book
    • Only want to use Chapters 3 and 8? Great–delete the rest.
    • Want to add in some of your own interpretations, or change what you think might be misleading, or add in a graphic you have created that helps illustrate an idea? Excellent–go ahead and change what’s there.
    • Can’t understand why the textbook excerpted Mill’s On Liberty in a way that leaves out that crucial part? Put it in!
    • Dislike the example used to illustrate a point because it only speaks to a limited audience of students and may not make any sense to others? Change it!
    • etc.

Basically what an open textbook does is provide a starting point that you can adjust if needed…or not. You can use it as is, or you can make it fit your course or context better. I want to be involved in a project that provides this starting point for myself and others.

For some, creating educational resources that are used by others can be considered for merit, tenure and promotion. That is going to depend on your college or university context.

Rebus open textbooks

We are working with an organization called The Rebus Foundation, a Canadian non-profit that is made up of wonderful people who are doing great things with digital publishing and open textbooks. We are part of several open textbook projects that are creating new models for publishing open textbooks, through connecting people into a community to collaborate on shared projects.

The Rebus open textbook projects are all being discussed on the Rebus Community Forum. There you can see and contribute to multiple textbook projects. Each is going to need help in the form of reviewing and copyediting as well as writing, so even if you just want to contribute a little without writing anything, that’s possible too. All help is appreciated.

Some basic parameters

Please see this document for an explanation of some of the basic parameters of the intro to philosophy open textbook, some of the ideas of what, generally, it should be like and why. The following is copied and pasted from part of that document:

This Open Textbook “Introduction to Philosophy” should be, firstly, an accessible introduction to philosophy, suitable for college or university students taking a philosophy class for the first time.

As such, the book should:

  • cover a broad range of the fundamental ideas in philosophy
  • present these fundamental ideas in a clear and accessible way
  • focus (first) on presenting existing arguments, rather than making novel arguments

As an Open Textbook, this Introduction should be considered the starting point: a reasonably complete (eventually), and relatively accessible “map” of the important intellectual traditions of philosophy.

But it should also be considered a framework upon which further (open) explorations could easily be built, further sections or additional materials added, by a professor for a particular class, by students as part of course work, or by future contributors (or current contributors) to the project itself.

Note that there is a table of contents on that document; we are not saying nothing else could be there. That is what we have come up with at the moment. As new people are added to the project, new sections might be created.

The process

I am serving as the main editor for the whole thing, but mostly what that means is being the central organizer. I will be writing some parts, but this is a joint venture that will come to fruition from the work of many people. That way, no one person has to do a great deal of work but it can be spread out. We’re all doing this on a volunteer basis, after all.d

Here is a list of tasks for the book.

I will be the overall editor, but each section of the book (e.g., ethics, social and political, metaphysics, philosophy of mind) will have a section editor who is responsible for that section. That means helping to find people to write subsections, arranging for others to review/comment on what has been written, ensuring those texts are copyedited (by themselves or by volunteers), etc.

Here is a post describing what we are envisioning for section editors.

We have already started discussions on general topics to include in a textbook for introduction to philosophy courses, and we found that we were rather scattered…so we have decided to start by focusing in on two sections. I asked the group who would be willing to be section editors, and we came up with two volunteers:

Ethics section: editor George Matthews (see here for a discussion board devoted to that)

Aesthetics section: editor W. Scott Clifton (see here for a discussion board devoted to that)

So those are the two sections we’re making a push on at the moment, but I would also love to hear if anyone else would like to volunteer as a section editor.

How do I get involved?

Does this sound intriguing? Or even better, are you excited to get started? Here are your next steps:

  1. Join the Rebus Community!
  2. Peruse the conversations we’ve had so far on this textbook if you want, and add your thoughts. It’s a long thread, but you can skim it! Introduce yourself and what you’re interested in about this project.
  3. Add your name and interest area to our spreadsheet (go to the ‘people’ tab at the bottom)
  4. If you would be willing to write something for the Ethics or Aesthetics sections, we are particularly interested in hearing about that right now. You can go straight to the discussion threads for those:
  5. Email me if you have questions: c.hendricks@ubc.ca
  6. Spread the word!!



Literature on open textbooks: COUP

[Updated Dec. 11, 2016]

I am working on a literature review for an article I and a couple of other people are writing about a survey about open textbooks in a course at UBC, and as part of that effort I created a table of some of the research literature on open textbooks. I thought it might be useful to others.

This table is based on the “COUP” framework explained by the Open Education Group (with whom I have an OER Research Fellowship at the moment): Cost, Outcomes, Use, and Perceptions. See here for an explanation of each element of this framework as it relates to research on open textbooks and other Open Educational Resources.

The Open Ed Group has a great list of literature using this framework, here: The Review Project. What I’m trying to do with this post is present at least some of that literature in way that clearly shows which articles connect to which aspects of the COUP framework. The Review Project, though, is updated more often!

The table is not an exhaustive list of literature; for one thing, it doesn’t include an article I found that is not open access (and I don’t have access to it):

Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton‐Detzner, C., Walling, J., & Weiss, S. (2011). Open textbook adoption and use: implications for teachers and learners. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 26(1), 39–49. http://doi.org/10.1080/02680513.2011.538563

I also only included studies that focused on open textbooks, specifically. There are other studies that talk about other OER in the Open Education Group’s Review Project.

Oh, and unfortunately the table doesn’t work on a mobile phone…I tried using a table plugin but it was messing up the format, and the table below is copied and pasted from a word processing doc, which doesn’t work on mobile. Boo.

Here is a MS Word version, though, that you could download and edit for your own purposes if you want!

There are probably other studies about open textbooks that I’m missing at the moment. Please add them in the comments!

Article Cost Out-
Use Perce-ptions
Allen, G., Guzman-Alvarez, A., Smith, A., Gamage, A., Molinaro, M., & S. Larsen, D. (2015). Evaluating the effectiveness of the open-access ChemWiki resource as a replacement for traditional general chemistry textbooks. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 16(4), 939–948. http://doi.org/10.1039/C5RP00084J X
Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2016). Opening the Textbook: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2015-2016 (Babson Survey Research Group). Retrieved from http://onlinelearningsurvey.com/oer.html F
Allen, N., & Student PIRGs. (2010). A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability. Student PIRGs. Retrieved from http://www.studentpirgs.org/reports/cover-cover-solution X X
Belikov, O. M., & Bodily, R. (2016). Incentives and barriers to OER adoption: A qualitative analysis of faculty perceptions. Open Praxis, 8(3), 235–246. http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.8.3.308 X F
Bliss, T. J., Hilton, J., Wiley, D., & Thanos, K. (2013). The cost and quality of online open textbooks: Perceptions of community college faculty and students. First Monday, 18(1). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3972/3383 X S, F
Bliss, T. J., Robinson, T. J., Hilton, J., & Wiley, D. A. (2013). An OER COUP: College Teacher and Student Perceptions of Open Educational Resources. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 0(0). Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.5334/2013-04 X X X

S, F


California Open Educational Resources Council. (2016). White Paper: OER Adoption Study (April 1 2016). Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/WPOERAdoption040116
 X  S, F
Feldstein, A., Martin, M., Hudson, A., Warren, K., Hilton III, J., & Wiley, D. (2012). Open Textbooks and Increased Student Access and Outcomes. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 15(2). Retrieved from http://www.eurodl.org/index.php?p=archives&year=2012&halfyear=2&article=533 X X S
Fischer, L., Hilton III, J., Robinson, J., & Wiley, D. A. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students – Springer. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159–172. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-015-9101-x X

Florida Virtual Campus. (2012). 2012 Florida Student Textbook Survey. Retrieved from https://florida.theorangegrove.org/og/items/10c0c9f5-fa58-2869-4fd9-af67fec26387/1/

Florida Virtual Campus. (2016). Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey. Retrieved from https://florida.theorangegrove.org/og/items/3a65c507-2510-42d7-814c-ffdefd394b6c/1/

X X S, F
Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573–590. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-016-9434-9 X S, F
Hilton III, J. L., Gaudet, D., Clark, P., Robinson, J., & Wiley, D. (2013). The adoption of open educational resources by one community college math department. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14(4). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1523 X X S, F
Hilton, J., & Laman, C. (2012). One college’s use of an open psychology textbook. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 27(3), 265–272. http://doi.org/10.1080/02680513.2012.716657 X
Hilton III, J. L., Robinson, T. J., Wiley, D., & Ackerman, J. D. (2014). Cost-savings achieved in two semesters through the adoption of open educational resources. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(2). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1700 X
Jhangiani, R., Pitt, R., Hendricks, C., Key, J., & Lalonde, C. (2016). Exploring Faculty Use of Open Educational Resources at BC Post-secondary Institutions. BCcampus. Retrieved from https://open.bccampus.ca/2016/01/18/new-study-exploring-faculty-use-of-oer-at-bc-institutions/ X F
Kimmons, R. (2015). OER Quality and Adaptation in K-12: Comparing Teacher Evaluations of Copyright-Restricted, Open, and Open/Adapted Textbooks. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(5). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2341 X F
Lindshield, B. L., & Adhikari, K. (2013). Online and Campus College Students Like Using an Open Educational Resource Instead of a Traditional Textbook. Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, 9(1). Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol9no1/lindshield_0313.htm X



Pitt, R. (2015). Mainstreaming Open Textbooks: Educator Perspectives on the Impact of OpenStax College open textbooks. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(4). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2381 X X F
Robinson, T. J. (2015, May). The Effects of Open Educational Resource Adoption on Measures of Post-Secondary Student Success (Doctoral dissertation). Brigham Young University. Retrieved from http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/doc/1710437283.html?FMT=AI X
Robinson, T. J., Fischer, L., Wiley, D., & Hilton, J. (2014). The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes. Educational Researcher, 43(7), 341–351. http://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X14550275 X
Senack, E. (2015). Open Textbooks: The Billion Dollar Solution. The Student PIRGS. Retrieved from http://www.studentpirgs.org/reports/sp/open-textbooks-billion-dollar-solution X
Senack, E., & The Student PIRGs. (2014). Fixing the Broken Textbook Market | U.S. PIRG (pp. 1–18). Retrieved from http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/fixing-broken-textbook-market X


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.

Report on my time as a BCcampus Open Textbooks Faculty Fellow


Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 11.33.52 PM



For the past year I have served as a Faculty Fellow with the BCcampus Open Textbook program. The provincial government of British Columbia provided funding for BCcampus to find, adapt, review, and develop open textbooks for the 40 highest enrolled subjects in BC postsecondary educational, and then providing more funding for open textbooks for skills and trades. You can see the amazing success of the program so far in these stats.

Last year BCcampus started a program of having “Faculty Fellows” who would do three things:

  • increase awareness of and promote Open Textbooks on their campuses and beyond
  • engage in research on Open Textbooks and other OER
  • provide feedback to BCcampus on their Open Textbooks program

I, along with Rajiv Jhangiani from Kwantlen Polytechni University and Jessie Key from Vancouver Island University, were the first three BCcampus Open Textbook Faculty Fellows (you can see a post about this from BCcampus here).

Now that we are coming to the end of our terms, we have been asked to write a report on the time spent as Faculty Fellows. I thought I’d make that report public here on my blog. I am organizing it according to the questions we were asked to address (not quite in the same order they were asked, but they’re all here).


Coming into the Faculty Fellows (FF) program, what were your expectations about the FF program? How did you envision the year unfolding? Did the FF program meet those expectations and match the vision you had of the year? Why or why not?

I must admit that I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect coming into the program. I felt a little under-prepared, as my two colleagues Rajiv and Jessie had both done much more work with open textbooks than I had, when we started. I had never been involved in adapting an open textbook like they both had, and had never used one either. I felt somewhat worried that I would be called upon to be an advocate for open textbooks without having enough knowledge. Those fears were quickly allayed as I began to learn about the BCcampus Open Textbook program, how it worked, what was involved in adopting and adapting an open textbook, and as I began to read research into open textbooks (kindly provided by Clint Lalonde and Amanda Coolidge from BCcampus). I was also happy to hear that I could review slides from presentations others had already given on open textbooks, to help me prepare for any presentations I might give.

I was also concerned about doing research on open textbooks, in the sense that I not only didn’t know a lot about open textbooks but I am also not well versed in empirical research methods (having been trained in philosophy, where we don’t learn much if anything at all about social science research methods). Fortunately, there was a research project with the OER Research Hub that was already begun but still in early enough stages that those of us not already involved (Jessie and I) could contribute to its design.


Is there something you were hoping to do more of with the FF program that you were not able to do? Why?

There are two things that didn’t quite meet my original vision of the year.

1. I had hoped to do more in the way of spreading awareness and advocacy on my campus. I did several presentations on open education and OER at UBC during my year as a Faculty Fellow, and in each one I managed to talk about OT (open textbooks) even where this wasn’t the focus. I also spoke to two student groups about OT. One thing that I wanted to try to do was to contact departments for which there are a number of good open textbooks and make a short presentation at department meetings about the availability of these textbooks. I honestly just ran out of time to do this. I only briefly spoke to my own department, to ask for a volunteer to review an OT on modern philosophy, and to point out that OT in philosophy exist. There wasn’t much (in fact any) interest expressed, but partially the issue there is that there aren’t very many open textbooks in philosophy (and the ones that exist are fairly specialized: logic and modern philosophy; if there were a good one on Introduction to Philosophy, things might be different).

2. I also didn’t do as much research on open textbooks or OER as I would have liked. Partly that was up to me; if I had come up with a research project separate from the one we were all working on, I expect I would have been able to get help in designing and implementing it from people at BCcampus and from Jessie and Rajiv. But my lack of knowledge about open textbooks at the beginning of the program, plus lack of connections to people using them, meant I wasn’t sure quite where to start in thinking about researching them. Now, at the end of the year, I feel much more ready to begin my own research project(s). This is in large part due to the chance to participate in the research project on faculty attitudes towards OER and Open Textbooks that all of us were a part of. I learned a great deal through that process.


What resources did you need to do your FF that you did not have?

I think to do the research portion of the role I would have needed more time and more training in just what sort of research would be good to do and how to do it. As there was a research project already in progress, I just helped with that one; but I didn’t have enough knowledge to have been able to run my own research project well, I think (as noted above). However, again, if I had really pushed myself to run my own project I expect I would have found help from BCcampus and my colleagues in the FF program, who would have been able to fill in my knowledge gaps or help with data analysis (as that is something I feel particularly unprepared to engage in).

Please provide a synopsis of your activities in 3 areas: Advocacy, Research, Support.


  • Rajiv Jhangiani and I spoke at the 2015 meeting of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), on “Enhancing Pedagogy with Open Textbooks and Other OER,” Vancouver, BC, June 2015. In this workshop we spoke about benefits of OT and OER beyond simply cost savings, and asked participants to brainstorm other benefits as well as possible drawbacks and how to address them.
  • I spoke about OER and open textbooks at several faculty professional development events at UBC:
    • I participated in a debate about the value of MOOCs for higher education during Open Access Week at UBC, Oct. 29, 2014. During my presentation I also spoke briefly about open textbooks. Slides from this presentation, and a description of the event, can be found here: https://blogs.ubc.ca/chendricks/2014/11/03/the-open-in-moocs/
    • I co-presented with others from UBC on “Increasing Student Engagement with Open Educational Resources,” once in May 2015 and once in August 2015. The two presentations were actually fairly different, because they were with different groups of people, but both focused on the value of OER and open textbooks beyond simply saving students money. The slides for one of these presentations can be found here: https://blogs.ubc.ca/chendricks/2015/06/13/engaging-students-with-oer/
  • I spoke to two student groups at UBC about open textbooks: the Arts Undergraduate Society and the Science Undergraduate Society (both in Spring 2015). I talked about what open textbooks are and told them about the BCcampus Open Textbook program. I also asked for suggestions on how to get the word out more widely about open textbooks. Slides for both of these presentations can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/clhendricksbc/open-textbooks-presentation-at-ubc
  • I connected with student leaders at UBC and at Simon Fraser University, which, over the course of the year, has led to some very fruitful activities by students at UBC. When I first contacted a student leader in the Alma Mater Society at UBC, though he was very interested, he couldn’t get the rest of the AMS terribly interested in open textbooks and OER. But after their subsequent election, there were more people interested, and that initial meeting plus subsequent meetings have led to:
    • UBC and SFU students working together on a #textbookbrokeBC campaign on social media (some information about that campaign can be found here: http://www.ams.ubc.ca/leadership/executive/key-projects/open-educational-resources-oers/)
    • UBC students working with our Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology to get discussions of OER and OT into more professional development workshops for faculty.
    • UBC students pushing to get mention of the creation of OER and OT into a document that explains various examples of “educational leadership” that teaching-focused faculty at UBC can engage in to help them achieve tenure and promotion.
    • UBC students working with me to develop a “sprint” to create an OER resource on environmental ethics, that will have case studies that cross disciplinary boundaries. We are in the process right now of putting together a grant proposal to try to fund this project. We envision that the sprint will provide a beginning point for the resource, but that students in various classes at UBC will work across disciplinary boundaries to continue to add to it.


I worked with Jessie, Rajiv, Clint Lalonde and Amanda Coolidge (BCcampus) and Beck Pitt (OER Research Hub) on a survey of faculty in BC and beyond, asking about their attitudes towards, use, adaptation and creation of OER and open textbooks. We had One thing that is particularly valuable about this survey, I think, is that we were able to break down the results according to: amount of teaching experience, full-time vs. part-time employment status, what sort of institution the faculty teach at (research, teaching-focused, community college), and more. We had data from 78 participants from 17 institutions in BC in the survey.

  • Jessie Key, Rajiv Jhangiani, Beck Pitt and I presented some of our findings on this survey at the BCcampus Open Textbook Summit in May, 2015. The slides from this presentation can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/BCcampus/faculty-attitudes-towards-and-experiences-with-oer-open-textbooks
  • Rajiv Jhangiani and I will also present on this research at the Open Education Conference in Vancouver in November, 2015.
  • Jessie, Rajiv, Beck, Amanda Coolidge (BCcampus) and I are also currently writing a white paper based on the results of this survey.


  • We faculty fellows met monthly with BCcampus to talk about our activities in advocacy and research, and also provided feedback to BCcampus on the open textbook program during those meetings whenever advice was solicited.

Other activities related to my role as a faculty fellow

  • I engaged in an extensive review of an open textbook under development, Ethics in Law Enforcement, by Steve McCartney and Rick Parent. As the book was being written, I provided a great deal of feedback on draft chapters.
  • Jessie Key and I spoke about our experiences with open textbooks at the BCcampus Open Textbook Summit in May, 2015. I spoke about reviewing an open textbook (Ethics in Law Enforcement), and Jessie spoke about adapting an open textbook in chemistry.


How much time did you devote to FF? Did we ask too much, not enough of your time? Was the amount of money provided adequate compensation for your work?

It’s difficult for me to quantify the amount of time I spent on the FF program. It came in fits and starts, with some periods being very busy with the research or preparing presentations on the research, or with the advocacy activities, and some periods during which things were much less hectic. I felt very satisfied with the amount of time that was asked of me–not too much, not too little. I appreciated the monthly meetings because they allowed us to keep up with each others’ activities (and some of those activities then provided new ideas for me on what could be done on my campus). Meetings once a month was just right, I thought. I also feel the compensation provided was definitely adequate for the amount of time spent. At no time did I feel I was doing more than I was being compensated for.


What kind of orientation do you think is needed for future incoming FF?

Meeting in person at the beginning of the year was very, very important. Since most of the rest of the year we met on Skype, it was crucial to feel like you had already gotten to know others a bit before working together in this more “distanced” fashion. So the first meeting being an face-to-face orientation was very important.

I particularly appreciated learning about the Open Textbook Program generally, how to adopt and adapt textbooks, and about resources for those who want to look into the literature on OT and OER. Knowing that there were slide decks already available for consulting before one creates one’s own for advocacy purposes was also really useful (maybe having those available in a shared cloud folder, for example, would be good).

I suppose the only thing I would add that I didn’t feel I had at the orientation was help in designing a research project if one doesn’t already have one in mind. I’m not sure how this would work, but if at least there was someone who would be the designated person to talk to if one has questions about how to design and carry out a research project, that would help. Or maybe some sample ideas for research projects to get people thinking. Now, honestly, I can’t remember all that happened at our orientation, so there may have been more of this sort of thing than I remember! But it’s the one thing I felt I wasn’t fully prepared for.


What advice do you have for future FF?

One thing that comes to mind is to take advantage of all the help and support provided by BCcampus and your fellow faculty fellows as much as you can. It’s such a great opportunity to learn and collaborate closely with a fantastic group of people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, as in my experience, it was willingly and enthusiastically given.

Also, I think it would be good for each fellow to be clear for themselves about their goals for the year. I had a vague sense of goals rather than setting out clear goals for myself to begin with. Of course, those can change as time goes on, but if you start with a good set of reasonable, achievable goals you might be more likely to keep yourself on task for all of them. I might have done more research on my own if I had done this!


Has the FF program been a worthwhile program for you to participate in? Why or why not?

It has definitely been a worthwhile program to participate in. Besides the fact that my knowledge of how to do research on OER and OT (open textbooks) has expanded greatly, I have been able to do many other very valuable things. One is to connect with more people working on OER and OT through my work as a faculty fellow. My connections with Jessie, Rajiv, Beck Pitt at the OER Research Hub, and Clint Lalonde, Amanda Coolidge and Laurie Aesoph at BCcampus been invaluable for learning about OER, OT, and research on these as well as for the possibility of collaborations I would not otherwise have had. In addition, through them and through my role as a faculty fellow and my participation in events such as the Open Textbook Summit, I have meet numerous other people involved with open education, OER and OT. These connections are continuing to prove fruitful for my own learning and for, hopefully, future collaborations.

I have also had the privilege to help with a new movement on my campus, led by students, for OT and OER advocacy. I am particularly excited about that; of all the advocacy work I’ve done through the FF program, I feel like the work with students has had the most rewards. They have had the energy and the drive to push for things I had only thought of but hadn’t followed through on by myself. Their excitement and their perseverance is contagious and inspiring.

Honestly, I have been so inspired by my colleagues in the FF program, by my colleagues at BCcampus, by the students I have worked with, and the others I have met through my FF role, that I can’t imagine the work I have done as an FF this year really ending. I have become one of the main leaders on my campus in regards to open education, OER, and open textbooks, and my leadership work in those areas will most certainly continue. Being a BCcampus Faculty Fellow has been (and will continue to be) an invaluable experience.


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: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Sandbox:Student_Engagement_Through_OER/Group_Resource

You can also see how the group wiki pages look when embedded into a WordPress site, here: http://willdev.sites.olt.ubc.ca/

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 open.ubc.ca website, here: http://open.ubc.ca/learning/

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: http://stories.cogdogblog.com/

source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/sandbox:Student_Engagement_Through_OER

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!