My presentation this morning reflects on what is needed to build a diverse open education movement on a provincial scale and what we have learned here in Ontario over the past 2 years.
Before get started, I feel obligated to answer a question I get a lot: what is eCampusOntario?
In formal terms, we’re a government-funded, not for profit consortium.
Our members are all of the 45 publicly-funded institutions in Ontario. 24 colleges and 21 universities all part of the same ecosystem.
But what does it mean to be a consortium in practice? It means that one of our principle roles is to build spaces for our members to connect and collaborate with eachother. This is about human interaction
It means that we want people to cross paths and have an opportunity to contribute to thinking about problems and solutions that have the potential to impact a whole province.
And because we are system-wide, and collaborative, the opportunity to find impact is always a part of our thinking.
One way that we achieve high impact is through a fundamental value of openness
Applying a Creative Commons license to your work means that you are assigning a set of permissions for use, re-use and re-distribution. You maintain your IP, but the knowledge you generate in that creative work is now free to be exchanged and shared.
No paywalls, no rental fees, no barriers to access.
Applying an openness principle to everything you do implicitly promotes collaboration, knowledge generation, and impact of the kind that we're interested in seeing across the province.
So, in a few words, eCampusOntario is
We are people driven – our members are the core of our work. We are designed to act as the skunk-works of the PSE system.
We provide the space, time and resources for our members to experiment with new practice, new technologies and new ideas. We provide opportunity to take a risk that might not otherwise be reasonable to tackle within the operating budget or structure of an institution.
We are systemic in scope – we lift all boats and we do it at scale on behalf of the entire province.
We hold open values – our commitment to open innovation is our strategy for collective progress and knowledge stewardship.
We try to play a catalytic role in the system – get things started, get people talking and get ideas germinating.
As an organization dedicated to operating at scale and finding systemic solutions to shared problems, we have a core challenge.
How do we find, cultivate and support those little sparks of innovation and use them to guide systemic decision making?
How do we move from idea to scale and keep the people that we are serving top of mind with those scalable solutions?
When it comes to implementing system-wide open education initiatives, we think that part of the answer to that question might lie in the kinds of spaces we create and why.
There is a concept in adaptive leadership theory that may be useful when considering these questions. It’s the concept of a holding environment.
The holding environment is a space which regulates the pressures people face when confronting adaptive challenges. Adaptive challenges are particularly difficult because they often touch on issues of values or identity.
And I’m sure many in the room have experienced this if ever been in a conversation about open education or microcredentials which seems to have ended before it began. Changing habits and assumptions is hard work. For everyone.
So this idea that a space needs to be created which reduces risk for the people involved and allows some of the core tensions associated with the challenge to arise is really interesting. Because if you don’t do that, the conversation never begins.
And if you’re not convinced that it’s time for higher education institutions to have some hard conversations about how we’re serving our students and giving them the best chance at success for their future
Look no further than this headline. From yesterday.
The education landscape is changing. And it’s happening fast. What is the differentiator for public institutions? Why do we still treat content as sacred and decide who gets to access it and when and for how long? Why do we agree to rent content to our students in the form of an access code only to have it disappear at the end of term? How are we promoting life long learning so students are free to come in and out of our education system, skilling up and diving deeper as they progress? Open education might be one way that public institutions reimagine their role in a changing educational landscape.
So what I want to share with you today, are some of the features of the holding environment we have created to support the beginning of what is emerging as a diverse and thriving open education movement in Ontario.
So, what does our holding environment look like for open education in Ontario?
It has three key features and I want to tell you a short story about how each has played out in practice over the past year or so.
Back in August of 2016, thought it might be cool to bring all of the student government leaders together at the end of the summer to start the conversation about open education. Ontario is a big province – we have 5 large, province wide student government associations representing the interests of students at college, university, in undergraduate and graduate school, in French and English speaking communities.
To get us started, we asked open student leaders from British Columbia to join us, present to the group and share their experiences working in open education advocacy out west.
There were a lot of questions asked, concerns raised, and ideas shared. We went away happy with the event and re-energized about the future for the province.
But it was what happened next that was pretty remarkable.
Those students left that day and rallied around the idea.
Suddenly we had Textbook broke campaigns springing up at campuses across Ontario.
What this really reminds us how significant the burden of the cost of education can be on out most vulnerable students. Reading through these tweets you can really see how students are despondent about these things.
The other thing about textbook costs, which I was reminded of when I started my program at Western this year, is that it hits you right after you pay your tuition. Tough to deal with.
The other thing I am reminded of when I see a textbook broke campaign like this is that students have a lot of other things going on besides school.
This student was recovering from a concussion, purchased a book anyways, but was unable to read it.
I think it’s important to emphasize that the promise of OER for students is not just about affordability.
It is also about taking full advantage of the digital affordances that come with it. While we know that the majority of students still prefer print, having a digital version of the resource, available in many different formats and compatible with accessibility technology, like screen-readers, could go a long way to reducing stress, especially at the start of term.
In addition to the textbook broke campaign on twitter, we had students on CBC radio explaining what open textbooks are and why they matter.
We had student groups working together to reuse and repurpose their advocacy materials. Sharing their adaptations as they went.
So not only are they engaging in open education advocacy, they are modelling open practice. It comes naturally to them.
Most importantly, we had students sharing their perspectives and giving voice to their experiences.
And all we did was get them together on a specific date and time. They set the agenda. They asked the questions. They explored the tensions around the issues.
Empower the students to take up open education for themselves.
Build spaces for them to connect with eachother and have the conversation with them on your campus. Explore the possibilities together.
My second story is about building community
It starts in March of 2017, when bought a bunch of hats.
And we stuck these patches to them and handed them out as people came in the door at our first ever Open Education Summit and we called them “Open Rangers”!
Now, I know a lot of people are not hat people, and we had many sleepless nights over that choice, for sure.
But it was really important to us to give these attendees, at the first ever open ed summit in Ontario, a sense that they were part of something. They were coming to us from all different parts of an institution, all different roles, most just curious about the concept of open education and with lots of questions.
We gave these people some hats, but the community itself had no definition – the only thing that connected these individuals was the fact that they had taken a chance and come to this crazy summit.
It was theirs to take and expand on. And they did.
Later that year, the Open Rangers got themselves together and held a sprint to develop a core set of resources to engage with open education in Ontario called the “OER Toolshed.”
They share them and refine them. We have leveraged these resources and distributed them across college and university campuses.
Open Rangers also went back to their campuses and started OER working groups.
These working groups range from formal committees that report to the VP Academic to informal, grassroots groups that have come together over a shared passion for open education.
In all cases, representation is diverse: these groups include students, librarians, educators, administrators, technicians, individuals from all different aspects of campus life.
The Open Rangers on each working group will often share their questions, successes and challenges back with the larger Ranger community.
This year at our annual conference we have a couple of Open Rangers leading a session on “How to Start an OER Working Group on Your Campus”
We’ve seen many of our Open Rangers lead their awareness work on campus out of the library and the bookstore.
On the right is an example from the university of Ottawa, where they were collecting feedback from students on the costs of their textbooks.
On the left is an example from Ryerson, which has recently offered grants of their own to encourage the creation and adoption of OER.
We also see our Open Ranger colleagues determined to get a better sense of the situation on their campus.
In 2016, the University of Guelph library partnered with the student association to lead a massive survey of undergraduate students to take the pulse of textbook affordability on campus.
4000 students responded, 3,200 provided written comments.
57% of students said they had decided not to purchase a textbook at some point during their post-secondary career.
And the findings of the survey indicate that students are resourceful when trying to find ways to get around purchasing the required material. They often find it another way, whether it is through library reserves or piracy.
But the really tough number is that 87% of those students reported being either “very concerned” or “concerned” about not having the required textbook.
And that worries me. Because every student should have the opportunity to get the most out of their education. There shouldn’t beany barrier to that.
In addition to issues around affordability, our Open Ranger colleagues are also actively exploring this big idea of open.
And that idea is that there is agency in open. That it is about expanded power to enable teaching and learning. That it is about the full legal control to customize, localize, adapt and remix and build.
A big part of our work at eCampusOntario is finding ways to best support individuals and grassroots communities at our institutions to engage and explore open.
And we think it is so valuable to have someone on campus, in that instructor’s context to help.
We have developed an Open Education fellowship program to fill that need.
We have 6 individuals from colleges and universities who are fulfilling this role on campus and are in the process of executing research projects related to open education at their institution.
And it all comes full circle.
The Open Rangers and OE Fellows that attended that first Open Education Summit back in March at OCAD university will be headlining the next event in November at George Brown.
The open ranger and open education fellow network we have now is vibrant, talkative and committed to sharing their work across institutions.
We think a sustainable open education future is predicated on the expertise that lives within our institutions. So we are committed to supporting these individuals and making sure they have what they need to continue the conversation on their campuses.
Finally, eCampusOntario needs to provide the infrastructure that supports these individuals.
For us, this means investing in the shared and open infrastructure that people rely on to do open work.
It means investing in Pressbooks open authoring software and making it freely available
It means investing in upgrades to that open software that meet the needs of educators and students in your community
Open software upgrades, in the instance of Pressbooks provide the open education community with some critical features to grow their work including
Tools that allow for Cloning: the ability to easily and quickly duplicate a book for adaptation Tools that allow the integration of interactive elements into the open resource like H5P and Phet simulations
It means partnering with Ryerson University to build the next iteration of the Open Library
Our open publishing infrastructure allows individuals to find, adopt and adapt a resource that they discover and engage in a publishing process to submit it to the repository.
We have built in revisioning history which allows us to track adaptations and new editions as they come forward.
And it is put to excellent use in Ontario.
This is the First Canadian Edition of a core nursing textbook created by a team of students and educators at Ryerson’s Faculty of Nursing this spring. Built collaboratively, in Pressbooks. It’s already been picked up and cloned for adaptation and localization by colleagues in Saskatchewan and BC.
Investing in open publishing infrastructure puts the tools in the hands of educators and students. And away they go.
We’ve also had success supporting colleagues to pursue a sprint adaptation.
This is an example from the college sector which has really taken off. 6 business faculty got together over a weekend and created a Canadian Edition of an open textbook.
They were tired of the US examples throughout and wanted to customize the resource for their students.
They actually developed two!
The heads of business in the college system have heard about this work by their colleagues and are looking for a way to support the development of more business resoucres towards the goal of a full Zed-cred program. That is zero resource costs for that program.
The best Canadian example of this comes from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in BC.
They now have over 200 courses with zero textbook costs. They are actively performing research about how this changes patterns in registration, retention and completion.
Registration in those courses, you can bet, is up.
The eCampusOntario role is to create the spaces, build the community, and provide access to the shared systems and infrastructure that enable the discover, development and adaptation of OER.
These are the features of our holding environment for open education in Ontario.
These efforts connect people over common and shared space, resources and infrastructure.
And what we have found is that the drive to move the conversation forward emerges organically. And it builds as more people enter the conversation and find their voice.
Through the efforts of our colleagues, we are starting to see our institutions move towards an open philosophy.
So you might be wondering, after all of those inspirational stories of people out there doing good work…
What is the impact?
Where are we at in terms of numbers for Ontario?
This is a slide that I used at the Creative Commons Global Summit in APRIL, 2018.
Since then, our numbers of students impacted has jumped from 5,000 to 18,000
And our savings have increased from $500,000 to $2 million.
Since April. 6 months
And the amazing thing is that when we look at the actual number of adoptions, it’s relatively low for a province of this size.
But it also tells a story about impact.
71 people have saved their students 2 million dollars. Just think what it would mean to bump that number up.
The first thing we need is more research on the impact and use of OER in Ontario.
This is a study we recently published on the awareness and use of OER in the province. It’s available on our website.
Major finding: many educators already using freely available materials in their classrooms. But not calling it “open” even if it is.
We need to be continually sampling our members to better understand needs and challenges.
As you may know, we have three strategies
How these strategies are translated into action is part of ongoing conversations with our colleagues in government.
When it comes to open education, we’re really interested in a new model which takes a targeted approach to a single subject vertical and develops open educational resources that incorporate technical applied skills, human skills and innovations for interactive learning with technology.
For example, a project in nursing, might look something like this:
We build OER for research methods, clinical skills, ethics, leadership, workplace readiness etc. and we build those resources alongside open tools and technologies like virtual simulations and an open electronic medical record.
We’re really interested in exploring the potential of an Open at Scale approach to close the gaps in OER that we currently see in health and trades in particular.
OCULL Retreat, Oct 25, 2018
Senior Director, Programs and Stakeholder Relations,
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any or all of this presentation
Building a diverse open education movement
on a provincial scale
George Brown College
4000+ students responded
3,200 responses included written comments
57% decided not to purchase a textbook at some point during
their post-secondary career
87% reported being “very concerned” or “concerned” about not
having the required textbook
University of Guelph Survey RESULTS
University of Guelph, Student Textbook Survey, 2016, p. 2-3
The Big Idea of Open:
Expanded power to enable learning and teaching,
beyond being just free or low cost
Build community across institutions
and expertise within institutions
member needs We need to be continually sampling our members and
users to better understand their needs and challenges
We need to continually publish reports and research that
align with our strategic directions
Real-World Data to Inform
our Programs and
actionOpen Innovation as a guiding
Develping targeted programs in
two focus areas: open resources,
and research and innovation
Funding to support development
of a shared service structure for
educational applications to
support institutions, faculty and
New opportunities for
interactive online learning
Open resources to equip
students with the “soft”
skills to be successful in
Open resources to build foundation
to of the “hard” skills needed for a
• Virtual simulations
• Open electronic medical
• Foundations of nursing
• Canadian healthcare
• Ethics in health
• Workplace readiness
• Research methods
• Clinical skills
• Pharmacology and pathophysiology
Learner Impact by Discipline