Camosun Open Sustainability Project: Project Story #6

And now for the sixth story in our ongoing series related to Camosun’s Open Education Sustainability Project:  Sandra Carr. Sandra teaches in the Fine Furniture (Joinery Trades) program at Camosun.  In fact, she is the only one who teaches in this program which as you can imagine, has created some challenges as she embarked on creating open textbook materials to support her students.

Like Brian Coey, Sandra’s goal in applying for this project was to “create something that dealt with all of our stationary machinery in the shop because our program currently doesn’t have a textbook.”  She had used open content in the past, for example, the Trades Common Core materials, saying that she “tried as much as I could to bring in that content into the program to save having to use other materials that would cost the students.” What she finds very powerful about working with open materials is the ability to tailor the content to her own program. “Within the text, I can use examples of things that we actually do in the shop using our own machinery, meaning there would be a familiarity there for the students. And then of course I can keep editing it.” Finally, Sandra is excited that open materials give students not only the opportunity to review content before and after their shop session, but also to access the content after they finish their programs. “A lot of what we do is ephemeral – they have access to material for the term, and then it’s gone. Whereas this is something that they can refer back whenever they need to.”  But recognizing that access to open content can go beyond her students, Sandra hopes that high-school teachers will also use and share (and potentially adapt) her open content because they typically don’t have much of a budget, nor do they have a textbook.

In addition to the challenge of being the lone instructor in her program (meaning that to work on this project, Sandra had to request leave leaving a substitute to teach for her, and use non-contact time, in order to find focus time and mental space to work on the project), Sandra tells me that one of the bigger challenges she had embarking on this project was “understanding and navigating the copyright around images. In the end I learned it was easier to create images myself rather than trying to navigate copyright for what I wanted to do.”  In addition, because she had never written anything like this before, she found deciding what to include or not include, as well as figuring out the appropriate writing style challenging. Basically, it was all about “just getting up and going on something brand new that I never done before.”  Finally, “one other challenge was creating graphics and images, which I quickly learned that I could have our graphic services help me with”

With all challenges come lessons learned, as well as new skills. “I learned how to write succinctly and simply and also how to standardize the format of the information I presented.” Sandra also greatly appreciated Pressbooks once she learned how to use it. “I think it’s a valuable resource, and I would love to move more of my content onto Pressbooks.”

Sandra does have some advice for other faculty thinking of moving their content into the open, and in particular into Pressbooks. “Create the most comprehensive outline that you possibly can. And if possible, work directly in Pressbooks rather than copying content from WORD. Standardize your images before you begin uploading them to Pressbooks because the more you figure out beforehand, the more time you will save. Finally, “if you’re writing several sections, create that outline, and then create one full section because you will discover what organization and formats will work best overall. I initially focused on the first section until I had a template for the rest of the sections.”

Moving forward, Sandra is still working on completing the (six) chapters she has created in Pressbooks.  She would like eventually to add videos saying “the value of video is something I’ve heard from students – they can go back in their own time to review the videos, learn the processes better, and become more confident. And since I’ve got my webcam and microphone now, and have been creating videos for other projects already, all I need is to put together the copy and images, and then I can add video to my book.”  Sandra also sees the benefits of video adding a consistency to demonstrations for students. “Having videos, rather than demonstrating in person multiple times, adds consistency and leverages your capacity as an instructor. Our courses will never be self-directed, but having content available where students can watch the video as many times as they need to, in addition to having me demonstrate in real time is so beneficial to the student. Some students need to view the content multiple times to really grasp the procedures, and it’s there for them at the time they need it.”

Sandra’s final thoughts to me reiterated how happy she is to be able to share content, not just with students, but with the wider community. “I’m here doing this work anyway, and to be able to publish it and share it, and then have others edit and contribute to it is amazing.”

Camosun Faculty Story #42: Pat

Pat is a Math instructor at Camosun, teaching courses in the Technology and Engineering Bridge programs at Interurban.  She said that teaching online was both familiar and new and unexpected at the same time.  “I have been teaching with a tablet for maybe 10 years now, so that was not new.  And while I thought that using Collaborate would be difficult, it actually went really well.  Oddly, I think helped me the most was attending the e-learning workshops on D2L. I didn’t end up using much D2L, but watching people use Collaborate was really helpful – I was learning about the tools that were being used to talk about D2L instead of about D2L!  In the end, Pat used a combination of Collaborate, some D2L, and also her own website which contains archival material from all the courses she’s ever taught.  “Moving online pushed me into finally doing that massive amount of work getting weekly homework up online for my students.”  But she also ran into those insidious online tools students can access that provide solutions to math problems, which she admits is not only a challenge for us here at Camosun, but for math departments across Canada.

One thing that surprised Pat was how much students wanted synchronous sessions. “They really wanted a feeling of interaction with me and the other students, although they didn’t typically turn on their cameras on (and I don’t require them to).”  Very different from her normal face to face classes.  “I usually have a pretty rowdy classroom, but here I was mostly talking to my screen with the occasional reminder that there were people listening to me, which was really isolating and kind of lonely to be honest.”

Pat says she learned a lot about her teaching over the past year.  “Because I was doing a few synchronous sessions, they became the highlights reel, and I ended up tossing out a lot of material that I don’t actually really miss, which is going to change what I do when we go back in person.  That laser focus of where I can put my effort has been really interesting and kind of transformative. Will my in-person lectures in the fall be the same as they were a year ago? No, they won’t.  What will they look like? I don’t know yet, but I’m pretty sure they will be different.”

One challenge Pat mentioned to me was a term I hadn’t heard before, but made perfect sense to me (and I am sure to all faculty over the last year).  “What was most challenging about the fall semester, at least the first month, was decision fatigue.” Decisions about online testing, like “what online tools do you allow and don’t allow? What instructions do you give students? How do you prepare them for it? How do you make sure that they understand the differences between an open book and a closed book exam? Do I just tell the students the instructions, or do I email them as well? And then beyond the testing piece: “How am I going to run my courses? Am I going to have a final exam? What do I do in my Collaborate sessions?  How am I going communicate with students? What are my office hours going to look like?  How do I get the wording (for everything!) just right?”  And related to the decision fatigue Pat faced, fighting exhaustion so she could work with what she called vigilance tasks, those tasks where you have to be at the top of your game, where you can’t be distracted, was also a challenge. For example, “marking tests is a vigilance task. If I want to do my best job marking and be fair to students, I can’t do it when I’m distracted or overly tired because I will make mistakes and not be consistent across the entire class.”

Moving forward, Pat is considering what she will keep from everything she learned last year.  Aside from continuing to work on changing the focus of her lectures, “I am considering having some Collaborate office hours at the end of the day. Email is okay if they send me a picture their work, but sometimes the math notation is so elaborate that being able to do handwritten work with them would be really helpful. “And for students who can’t make it to class, particularly in this time of COVID, having the ability to watch something later is really important. And that is why in my ideal universe, my classes would have videos of examples so that students could go and absorb some of the content in different ways.  Having those multiple modes to support student learning is so important.”

Spring 2022 workshop list

Planning for Spring 2022 Scheduled Development?  With SD Intents due on February 1st now is a good time to start planning what you want to do with your time. Below is a list of CETL offerings for the May/June 2022 period, with more to come as the time gets closer.

Registration is now open for the following spring offerings:

 Instructional Skills Workshop May 2-5, in-person, Lansdowne Campus REGISTER HERE

The 3½ day peer-based workshop is an excellent opportunity to learn in a fun, safe environment with colleagues from across the college, and improve your teaching practice. (More info)

Great Teachers Seminar: May 9-12, Honeymoon Bay Retreat Centre REGISTER HERE

Engage in a learning process of shared information and experiences, self-reflection, and action planning. Explore a variety of teaching strategies, innovations, instructional challenges and solutions. (More info)

FLO Blended Learning: May 16-June 2, online and in-person at both campuses REGISTER HERE

Learn research-based concepts, principles, and strategies that will make facilitating a course with both online and face-to-face components effective and engaging. This course will help you create seamless lesson plans that utilize the most applicable elements of both the online and face-to-face environments.

Stay tuned! Registration will open mid-winter for the following spring offerings:

 (NOTE: For planning purposes, assume these workshops will be one to 1.5 hrs except Pulling Together series)





Getting started with D2L to support face-to-face classes Setting up your gradebook Working with master courses
Quizzes in D2L Advanced quizzing
Getting started with D2L to support your blended and online classes


Use D2L to create and deliver great assignments

Part 1: Designing effective assignments

Part 2: Creating, grading and providing feedback in D2L

Streamline the marking process using rubrics and other feedback Tools

Part 1: Intro to feedback and rubrics

Part 2: Creating and using rubrics in D2L

  Creating Discussions Advanced content creation using templates and accessible design
Content Management in D2L Spring Cleaning  


Text-to-Speech support for students: An orientation to the ReadSpeaker tools in Your D2L course Introduction to the ALLY tool in D2L Using the accessibility reports in D2L: What do I need to do?
Creating accessible content for your online classroom: 7 things you can do right now!   Using student stories and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to design for accessibility


Introduction to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Supported practice sessions: On-demand small group sessions on practice or groups  


Enhancing your courses with video (Kaltura intro) Going deeper with videos and Kaltura Creating great accessible Kaltura capture videos

Open Education/OER

Intro to Open Ed and OER Introduction to H5P Introduction to open pedagogy
Intro to Creative Commons Intro to Open ETC’s WordPress Redesigning your course to be more open
Introduction to common open tools and resources    


Aligning assessment with outcomes Feedback and formative assessment Alternative assessments
Deterring Plagiarism Self and peer assessment  
  Online tools to design and manage assessments

(see D2L stream)



  New student onboarding: A faculty perspective Pulling Together series



Creative Commons Self-Paced Workshop

Want to know more about Creative Commons licensing? Check out a new self-paced Creative Commons workshop on our eLearning Workshops site.

Creative Commons is first and foremost a non-profit organization that supports creators to both retain their copyright and to freely share their creations as they choose, and allows others to Retain, Revise, Reuse, Remix, and Redistribute those creations. Creative Commons is also recognized as a set of free-to-use licenses allowing copyright owners to show how they want their work to be shared. In this online workshop, you will learn more about Creative Commons (CC) and how CC licenses can be used to support the adoption, creation, adaption, etc. of open resources for you and your students.

Our Creative Commons Workshop (created by Emily Schudel as her final project in her Creative Commons Certification program) should take you 2-3 hours to complete, between reading the materials and completing the suggested activities. By the time you complete this workshop, you will be able to:

  1. Find CC-licensed material you can use in your own course(s).
  2. Create, adapt, and share CC-licensed works for your subject area.
  3. Apply the appropriate CC-license to works you create or adapt for your course(s) and release them as Open Educational Resources (OER).

If you have any questions or comments as you go through our workshop, please email Emily Schudel.