OER Guest Post: Supporting and growing open educational practice individually and institutionally
By Tranum Kaur and Nick Baker
An individual faculty member’s perspective
As a University faculty member, I have been exploring the use of open educational resources (OERs with the help of Office of Open and Online Learning) in advancing my teaching scholarship in the Masters of Medical Biotechnology (MMB) program, which is housed in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Windsor, Canada. My understanding grew over the years as I participated in Certificate of Online and Open Learning (COOL) course, WordPress/Pressbook, video e-portfolio, & website creating, and other OER related workshop sessions offered at my and other institutions. The greater shift to the online and open learning and associated pedagogies became apparent to me over pandemic years.
Recently, with help of a Promoters of Experiential, Active, and Research-based Learning in Science (PEARL) grant, with students as partners in our PEARL team, we created an open and online health and medical case scenario based engaging online e-textbook. This customizable open textbook collates relevant case studies which aligns with the topics covered in Clinical Biochemistry course of the MMB program. Cases cover a wide selection of topics ranging from renal diseases to hepatology, hematology, infertility, endocrinology, diabetes, and Covid-19 cases with applications to several health-related programs/fields.
We used Pressbooks, an open textbook creation and publishing tool, to house the open textbook, mainly for its easy creation and timely support we received from Dr. Nick Bakers OOL team at UWindsor (Special thanks @aliciahiggison and @nobukofujita). These e-textbooks can be shared publicly and reused, remixed, revised and redistributed with Creative Common Licences.
Our experiences in collectively developing this OER will be presented during day 3 of the #OER22 conference, on April 28, 2022. I (Tranum) will be presenting the session “Creating health and medical clinical scenario based engaging teaching and learning online repository” as it fits nicely with one of the conference themes: “Open in Action: open teaching, educational practices and resource”. Some tips will be provided for developers/instructors who may be interested in developing and/or applying a similar resource. This OER can be utilized and/or adapted by any Science Faculty for supplementing didactic
teaching and to helping students’ reducing additional tuition cost associated with tradional textbooks.
An administrator’s perspective
Developing systems and structures to support instructors who want to explore open educational practices (OEP), including co-developing OERs with students, is a challenge that many in the #OER22 community are very familiar with. Making space for everyone in the big tent that houses the wide spectrum of open practices is different depending on characteristics such as institutional culture, support capacity, instructor readiness, and of course, local policy and procedures.
In some institutions the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a raft of human-focused changes to practice that have been revelatory, sometimes opening doors to OEP in ways that would not have been possible before as instructors sought to minimise the wide-ranging harms of the pandemic for their students. For others, time-starved and stressed instructors turned to the familiarity of commercial publisher materials as they sought the silver bullet to engagement and integrity as they transitioned to remote learning.
Emerging from the disruption though, there seems an opportunity, at least for a short period, to capitalise on the momentum gained through the necessary close examination of existing teaching practices, and the possibility that open practices may continue to gather mainstream support.
While it can be relatively easy to support open practitioners with internal funding, technology, instructional design and other expertise, there remain systemic barriers to more widespread adoption of openness, including workload issues, peer pressure, and the lack of recognition of open scholarly activities in the all-important (at least in some parts of the world) tenure and promotion process.
The office of open learning is attempting to address the latter issue by developing a new set of tenure and promotion criteria that explicitly recognise and encourage open practices, including open scholarship. Nick and his colleague Dave Cormier, both from the University of Windsor, will be sharing the work in progress on these changes during their session on day three “What is open scholarship: a framework for discussion”.
It is our hope that this work will provide a model for other departments so that committed and passionate faculty, such as Tranum, can receive the recognition they deserve for their open scholarly work, reducing one more barrier to the normalisation of open practice in higher education.
We look forward to seeing you at the 13th annual conference for Open Education research, practice and policy! OER22 will be the first hybrid edition of this much-loved event, taking place over three days, 26-28 April 2022. The first day of the event will take place in London, UK, and the second and third day of the event will take place online. Check out the https://altc.alt.ac.uk/oer22/programme/.