Reflections on Open Access, OER, and Community of Practice (Reblog)

I don’t often reblog, but it’s been awhile since I’ve posted (having been off for a couple of weeks), and it’s Open Access Week.  Dana McFarland at Vancouver Island University (who have an amazing blog site) has posted some very thoughtful reflections on Open Access, OER, and Community of Practice.  Given my personal current interest in Open, and moving more into working with OER and Open Pedagogy here at Camosun, I wanted to share these reflections.  And you will see more here in this space about OER in the coming months!

Open Access Week 2019: Reflections on Open Access, OER, and Community of Practice


Supporting Students with Disabilities in BC Postsecondary Online Course

Today, I’d like to take a moment, and a short post, to promote an online course offering, available for you, for free, from the Justice Institute of BC:  the open, online course Supporting Students with Disabilities in BC Postsecondary .  In addition, content in the course and associated resource site are Creative Commons licenced, so material is available for you to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute!

From the website:

“In collaboration with Selkirk and Camosun Colleges, Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) has developed this course and a resource website to educate trainers on disability issues in the classroom. The purpose of the course is to increase the success of people with disabilities in a trades / technical program by dispelling common myths about students with disabilities and to address faculty’s concerns and questions about different disabilities. It will help each faculty member to obtain the appropriate knowledge and problem-solving skills to offer accommodations and select appropriate teaching strategies for their disabled students. The expectation is that the new techniques learned will help students achieve their full potential and success in their chosen programs.

This multi-modal course can be taken online independently, or in a facilitated face-to-face group. Throughout the course there are several engaging learning activities including scenarios with reflection questions, case studies followed by discussions, and simulation exercises aimed to trigger learner empathy.

This course provides practical information and easy-to-use strategies to help you to better support the learning of students with disabilities in your classrooms and campuses.

At the end of the course, you will be able to

  • Define what is meant by having a disability and become familiar with a wide range of disabilities and how they impact learning
  • Identify the concepts of duty to accommodate and understand the process of reasonable accommodation
  • Apply strategies and tools from Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create an inclusive learning environment to accommodate your students
  • Develop personal goals, address institution-wide responsibilities and identify next steps for creating inclusive campuses”


BCcampus Open Education

Open Education is a going concern here in B.C. and around the world. If you don’t know a lot about Open Education and Open Educational Resources (OER), a good place to start is the BCcampus Open Education website (

What I really want to do today, however, is encourage you to explore the many projects and grants available through and supported by BCcampus. I am reblogging their Call for Proposals webpage below, where you can find out more about reviewing open textbooks, or nominating someone for an Award for Excellence in Open Education, as well as about past calls, and current and past Open projects.

If you have any questions about Open Education, contact BCcampus, or email eLearning support to arrange a meeting with one of our instructional designers (

Calls, Expressions of Interest, Reviews


Minister of Advanced Education announces big investment in Open Education in BC!!

I don’t normally do re-blogs, but this is big news for BC Post-Secondary educators working (or wanting to work) with Open Education Resources.  If you want to know more about Open Education Resources and how to create them or integrate them into your teaching, come see us in eLearning!  Contact to arrange to meet with an instructional designer.

More open textbooks arriving on student bookshelves


4 Great People to Follow on Twitter

When integrating educational technology into our teaching, we often find ourselves faced with a myriad of challenges and ethical issues to consider beyond the simple question of how the tool supports our learning outcomes. If you are wondering where to turn, here are four experts I follow on Twitter whose work has helped me work through some of the struggles I have faced when assessing a new tool. And yes, these are only four – if you have a go-to expert on your list, let me know in the comments!

Jesse Stommel:

According to his website, “Jesse Stommel is Executive Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies at University of Mary Washington. He is also Co-founder of Digital Pedagogy Lab and Hybrid Pedagogy: an open-access journal of learning, teaching, and technology. He has a PhD from University of Colorado Boulder.”

Exploring digital pedagogy from a critical lens, with the student forefront in his mind, he says about his own practice, “My scholarly work is about the sometimes wondrous, sometimes horrifying relationship between bodies and technology. My particular expertise is in digital pedagogy, digital humanities, and open education. I believe all learning is necessarily hybrid. In on-ground pedagogy, it is important to engage students’ digital selves. And, with digital and online pedagogy, our challenge is not merely to replace (or offer substitutes for) face-to-face education, but to find new and innovative ways to engage students in the practice of learning.”

Rajiv Jhangiani:

A champion of and innovator in the Open Pedagogy movement, Jhangiani says on his website: “I am the Special Advisor to the Provost on Open Education and a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I currently serve as an Associate Editor of Psychology Learning and Teaching and an Ambassador for the Center for Open Science. Together with Robin DeRosa, I am co-founder of the Open Pedagogy Notebook. I also serve as an Advisory Buddy with Virtually Connecting and on the board of KDocs, KPU’s Official Documentary Film Festival.”

I highly recommend exploring the Open Pedagogy Notebook site which contains concrete examples of open pedagogy in action, and encourages you to collaborate and engage with open pedagogy practitioners from around the world.

Julia Hengstler:

An advocate for and specialist in privacy as it applies to our world of educational technology, The White Hatter tells us that “Julia Hengstler is a Professor, Educational Technologist, and Chair of the Centre for Education & CyberHumanity (Faculty of Education, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada) … Her doctoral research specializes in privacy and the use of educational technology in BC public schools… With over more than 25 years as an educator in BC’s public-school system, Julia has taught a wide variety of subject areas and grade levels ranging from K-12 to post-graduate. Julia blogs about education and technology at “ED Tech Thoughts”.”

Much of Hengstler’s work revolves around understanding and managing your digital footprint, and the impact of using social media in education.

Jess Mitchell:

Jess Mitchell is the Senior Manager of the Inclusive Design Research Centre  at OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario which “was created as Canada’s first research hub focused on digital inclusion. It is adding new approaches to learning that are championing cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration, and the integration of emerging technologies.” (

An advocate for inclusive design, as you may have guessed, Mitchell “manages large-scale international projects and initiatives focusing on fostering innovation within diverse communities while achieving outcomes that benefit everyone”, which is inclusive design in a nutshell: inclusive design benefits all, and practicing inclusive design makes something more accessible overall. When I started reading more about inclusive design, I realized that there is a difference between inclusive design and universal design, as well as between inclusive design and accessibility. The essay “The Number 1 Thing You’re Getting Wrong about inclusive Design” is a good place to start when beginning to puzzle through the distinctions. Following Jess Mitchell will help clarify them.

The Non-Disposable Assignment

Last week I gave you a quick introduction to the concept of Open, in regards to Open Educational Resources, and Open Pedagogy. Now I wanted to give you a short post about one example of open pedagogy in action. Submitted for your perusal: the Non-Disposable Assignment.

The idea of the non-disposable assignment came about from frustration voiced by students who were spending enormous amounts of time completing assignments (like papers) which were graded and filed away, never to be looked at again, and by faculty who spend enormous amounts of time grading said papers, only to never have students look at them again – thus, disposable. A non-disposable assignment, on the other hand, “focuses on personalised learning by allowing students to build new knowledge together around an authentic problem, scenario or situation” ( ); they are assessments which students feel connected to, value, and are proud to share with their peers.

In 2013, David Wiley wrote a blog post on Open Educational Resources, and specifically addressed the issues around the “disposable” assignment, and how important it was to address them if you are truly wanting to move into practicing open pedagogy. In other words, OER are not just about free textbooks, they are also about providing students with assessment options that are grounded in the 5 Rs we discussed last week: retain, remix, reuse, revise, and redistribute. He says “[b]ecause the assignment encourages them to work in any medium they prefer, students pick something they’ll enjoy, which leads them to invest at a different level.” And isn’t this something we, as educators, strive for?

Christine Hendricks also notes that using Open Educational Resources to support your teaching gives students options for themselves to remix, reuse, etc. these materials to create their non-disposable assignments, thus bringing the open pedagogy full circle in a course.

Alan Levine takes the concept of non-disposable assignments to task a bit, noting that many examples seem to still echo the old disposable assignment, noting that “[i]t takes a lot of effort to move past the first impulse of writing ones that sound like they are answering a question or a series of questions.” In other words, the concept of the non-disposable seems simple (especially once you see some examples), but it is not necessarily easy (especially in the practice of your own discipline)!

Rather than repeating examples of non-disposable assignments here, I will point you to the website referenced at the beginning of this post ( which supports a Vancouver Island University workshop on creating non-disposable assignments, and contains several examples of non-disposable assignments created by faculty who participated in the workshops. I encourage you to have a look and get some ideas. You can also find specific examples of non-disposable assignments on David Wiley’s, Christine Hendricks’, and Alan Levine’s blog posts, linked below.

If you are already using non-disposable assignments in your teaching, or if you create some after reading this post and the linked resources, I would love it if you would share them with me, either by contacting me directly ( or by commenting on this post. And, of course, if you ever want to talk to any of us in the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning about how you might add non-disposable assignments to your courses, contact any of us – we would love to talk to you!

References and Additional Resources

The Non-Disposable Assignment:  Enhancing Personalized Learning

David Wiley (2013) Iterating towards Openness:

Christine Hendricks (2015) Non-Disposable Assignments in Intro to Philosophy:

Alan Levine (2017) Non-Disposable Assignments:

An Era of Disposable Assignments? (2018)

A Conceptual Framework for Non-Disposable Assignments: Inspiring Implementation, Innovation, and Research  (2018)

A very brief introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER)

One of the big topics in education these days, especially when talking about elearning or online educational resources, is Open Educational Resources (OER) (and generally, Open-ness). I thought I would take a moment today to very briefly give you some idea of what people mean when they talk about OER, and give you some resources you can explore to find out more.

Open Educational Resources

The Camosun Library Open Resources Guide is a great place for you to go to find out more about OER and where to find them. The guide provides a nice definition of OER as well, which I will repeat here for you: “Open Education Resources (OER) include textbooks, course readings and other teaching and learning content available online at little or no cost. These resources are produced by libraries, universities, government agencies, archival organizations and individuals, and can be used, reused and modified depending on how they have been licensed by the creator of the content.” OERs are especially important in today’s high-cost educational market. Open Textbooks in BC have

According to, “The terms “open content” and “open educational resources” describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like “open source”) that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities”, which are as follows:

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Creative Commons

One of the hallmarks of OERs is that they are licenced as Creative Commons ( Creative Commons “are flexible copyright licenses that allow copyright holders to decide for themselves who can share, reuse and build upon their creative works.” (

Other kinds of “open” in education

In addition to Open in OER, you may hear Open being used in other contexts as well, some of these include:

  • Open source (software that is available at little or no monetary cost, but often costs a lot to set up and maintain in terms of people resources)
  • Open access (resources – articles, books, etc. – that are available freely on the Internet)
  • Open culture (the concept that knowledge should be shared openly and collaboratively, free of copyright restrictions)
  • Open pedagogy (a little more complex, but defined briefly at as “that set of teaching and learning practices only possible in the context of the free access and [5]R permissions characteristic of open educational resources.” – you can explore its complexities further at

A few resources

Now that you know a bit more about what OERs are, here are some great resources for you to explore so you can find out more to help you decide how to integrate OERs into your own teaching!