Open Education

Sitting in a lecture theatre at OCAD University, there was a buzz around the room that was infectious. That buzz was my first exposure to the open ed culture. It was March of 2017 and I was at the first Open Education Ontario Summit. Thanks to eCampusOntario, my introduction to open education was such an inspiring one that I have since focused my professional development upon the open education movement and the opportunities for universities that arise with it’s embrace. One of the first questions I asked myself was: what can this mean for Western University?

Organizer of Western University’s First Open Education Day

Fast forward 9 months and I was bringing Open Education to the fore at Western University. Collaborating with the University Students’ Council, Science Students’ Council, OUSA, Western Libraries, and eCampus

Ontario, I spearheaded a day-long special event offering a comprehensive agenda to faculty attendees. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, inspired participants by introducing open educational resources from the perspectives of social justice and pedagogical innovation. Other events that day supported participants to locate and evaluate OER, as well as appreciate the potential for student impact. The day was a huge success – faculty still speak of the value it served in raising their awareness of open education.

Co-Chairing Western’s Open Education Working Group

The next obvious step for us at Western was to investigate the potential for ongoing support for open educational practice

s. This required getting to know the community’s perspectives. Alongside my co-chair, Lillian Rigling, I brought together a campus-wide team of representatives from instructors, students, and librarians to sustainability and equity offices. We connected with our campus communities asking how they currently understood open education, where they felt supported, and where potential gaps might exist. Together we formulated 11 recommendations that were delivered to the Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) for strategic action.

MOOC Contributor: Making Sense of Open Education

Jenni Hayman at eCampusOntario is a mentor of mine. So when she invited me to author one of fourteen modules for her MOOC, Making Sense of Open Education, I naturally jumped at the opportunity. I opted to create a module titled Adopt, Adapt, or Create? My intention was to help instructors distinguish the difference between these three actions and appreciate the pedagogical possibilities afforded by each.

One of my proudest moments arising from this work, was the day an Instructional Designer at the University of Buffalo, Martha Greatrix, inquired with me about adapting my video for her own use. The experience of working with Martha has demonstrated the incredible power of the open education movement. Not only did she make the video bigger and better beyond what I had created, I met a new colleague along the way.

Opening Up my own Teaching

Part of my adventures into open education has to consider what open educational practices look like for my own teaching. I’ve started applying Creative Commons licenses to the work I create for workshops and events. I also seek and utilize open resources whenever possible. Further, in teaching SGPS 9500: The Theory and Practice of University Teaching, I’ve been exploring possibilities for open assignments. For example, in the Fall 2018 term my co-instructor and I introduced a case study assignment where students write their own teaching cases. With interested students, we will be exploring options for openly licensing and sharing students work with the wider academic community.