Notes from #ONOERlibrarians day @ Ryerson University

OER_Logo_Open_Educational_Resources
via Wikimedia

Last Thursday, March 30, my boss, coworker and I attend the first (hopefully annual!) Ontario OER Librarian day conference held at Ryerson University in Toronto. This was an extremely exciting opportunity for my coworker Melanie and I because we’d never been invited to represent our library at a conference before. I was especially enthusiastic about this conference in particular because the entire open movement (creative commons copyright licenses, open access, open education, open educational resources, open source etc.) is something I’ve been interested in for years now and I have been wanting to learn more about it and get more involved in it. It was an amazing day, the energy of the conference was great and I really learned a lot. I’ve truly been inspired by all of the sessions and I’m eager to continue working with the whole group to help grow the use of OERs in Ontario’s post-secondary institutions.

Since I needed to type up all of my notes from the event anyway for work, I thought I could also publish them here as well.

Session 1 – Greeting from Madeleine Lefebvre, RULA Chief Librarian @ Ryerson University

  • OERs are a grassroots movement and those of us involved in the conference are part of a grassroots movement within that grassroots movement to bring OERs to Ontario’s colleges and universities.
  • Collaboration between colleges and universities is going to be a foundational key to the success of OERs in Ontario
  • Ryerson has been given a grant from eCampusOntatio for creating an OER resource prototype for Ontario – the Collaborative Open Textbook Publication Systems Pilot
  • An OER listserv will be created for all conference attendees to participate in

Session 2 – David Porter, CEO of eCampusOntario

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via Giulia Forsythe
  • eCampusOntario is a non-profit that works with all of Ontario’s Colleges and Universities
  • rethinking learning resources:
    • Students are very interested in open being standardised and in use across the board not just at individual schools – they want to see the same resources for the same courses used at whatever schools offer those courses.
    • Students want to see textbook affordability addressed
    • eCampusOntario’s goal re OERs is to reinforce faculty and instructor expertise to empower them to create and co-create resources with their students
    • They want to see refinement of institutional practices for instructional resources including the creation and management of them
    • Promote the adoption(use) and adaptation open textbooks that already exist through platforms like OpenStax which are all based on Creative Commons Copyright licenses
      • BC’s OpenEd OER text library is coming to Ontario as of May 31st, 2017 – it will be re-branded for Ontario instead of BC
    • PROTIP: leverage the OERs that already exist – you don’t need to completely reinvent the wheel
  • re BC and OERs
    • UBC has been incredibly proactive in using open textbooks
    • Nearly every UBC math textbook is available online
    • UBC recently introduced a radical new clause to their tenure policy in which work on OERs can be taken into account as publication work for tenure consideration for faculty
  • David noted that what Ontario needs is a platform for storage and distribution of OERs and an infrastructure for authoring, reviewing, editing, and publishing them – this is what Ryerson’s pilot project is for
  • David sees libraries as the future centres of digital publishing on university and college campuses in Ontario – centres that will also offer training and support for faculty

    5 benefits of OERs and an all-Ontario platform

    • 1. legal access to customised and contextualised resources
    • 2. access to customised resources improves student learning outcomes, e.g. localised case studies for business students
    • 3. opportunities for authentic learning, e.g. Delmar Larsen’s ChemWiki which is the most visited online chemistry book – Delmar explains why he created it
    • 4. fosters collegial collaboration as you can build resources with colleagues from multiple institutions
      • The SPRINT model of creation brings subject matter experts together for a full day (or several) with the end goal of having a completed OER by the end of the allotted time
    • 5. they’re a demonstration the service mission of institutions
      • MOOCs are one example of this – MOOC = Massively Open Online Course. Most MOOCs use OERs as teaching tools
      • OERU is coming at the end of March – it will be a free full credit 1st-year university program and eCampusOntario is a member

Session 3 – Ontario University Library Update with Katya Pereyaslavska and Amy Greenberg from Scholars Portal

  • OCUL is currently working on a white paper related to OERs
  • Katya and Amy are currently soliciting feedback for the paper via a GoogleDoc
    • Paper will look at 2 areas, the role of library consortiums and the role of libraries at the institutional level
      • Current feedback related to the library consortium level includes:
        • OER startup kit for OCUL libraries: how to get started – is there a need for a tool like this?
        • Role in coordinating authoring and editorial processes (eCampus forthcoming funding in June 2017)
        • National vs local repositories, how to make sure that materials that are being developed are well promoted?
      • Current feedback related to the libraries at the institutional level includes:
        • Asking for responses on how your library staff support faculty
        • Asking for good examples of institutional policy on this matter

Session 4 – Ontario College Library Update with Trish Weigel (from Conestoga College) and Jennifer Peters (from Seneca College)

Learning Portal Logo
via OCLS
  • Slides from this presentation are available online
  • HLLR & OCLS are working in concert together on the OER projects at the college level
    • OCLS is both a partner and a service provider in this endeavour – OCLS provides the money that HLLR distributes for projects and research
  • HLLR has spent the last few years exploring how OERs and Online Learning complement one another e.g. OERs can help solve the complications that arise within OntarioLearn programs
    • Trish used an example here that also happens to have been my personal experience:

“Students can register in the Library and Information Technician diploma program through Conestoga College but the program itself is Mohawk College’s program taught by Mohawk Faculty. Students registered through Conestoga College may not always be able to access all of their course materials because Conestoga and Mohawk do not have the same licenses and subscriptions. Using OERs as course materials would solve this access issue.”

  • HLLR and OCLS are currently debuting their new tool to support online learning at every Ontario College, The Learning Portal which has a firm launch date of September 2017:
    • Everything in the portal will be licensed under a CC/BY/SA Creative Commons license
    • Its online library is especially good for OntarioLearn students
    • It contains hubs like study skills, research, digital literacies, and digital citizenship
    • It offers online chat and virtual support
    • It will house the Faculty toolkit which includes:
      • LMS cartridges
      • course readings (reserves)
      • AODA resources
      • indigenous access
      • copyright literacy
    • Shared resources – no single database is universal to all colleges
    • The hubs will contain all sorts of stuff including learning modules and tutorials
  • Out of HLLR’s research, their Faculty and Librarian OER toolkit was born – a baseline knowledge will be needed for library staff before this can actually be launched to faculty however
    • The toolkit will also live on the Learning Portal
    • The toolkit will include:
      • The what and why of OERs
      • Policy context
      • Information on how to find and curate OERs
      • Information for incorporating OERs into the curriculum
    • The content for the toolkit will be gathered, prepared, and developed during the Summer of 2017 with a planned launch date of Fall 2017

Session 5 – OER Advocacy: Guelph Textbook Student Survey with Heather Martin and Ali Versluis from University of Guelph

  • In conjunction with their student union’s president, Heather and Ali administered a survey of UG undergrads to find out how much of an issue textbook affordability is at Guelph
    • The project was spurred on by
      • a student focus on open textbooks
      • frustration with the rising cost of textbooks and with traditional publishing practices such as access codes, bundling, and constant new editions (#textbookbroke has been gaining a lot of ground online)
      • Heather and Ali could not find many other surveys that had been conducted on this issue
      • The fact that the student union’s president was the one who approached them and proposed the collaboration
    • The survey was not designed to include any disciplinary or demographic information in order to try and protect privacy as much as possible. But Heather and Ali say they would change that if they were to do the survey again
      • Because this data isn’t there they can’t get as deep a level of analysis as they would like from the responses
    • The survey received a 21% response rate – 4240 responses which they attribute to the fact that the survey was sent out by another student and not staff or faculty
    • Lessons learned:
      • Students are willing to sacrifice marks in order to save money
      • Students see textbook content as critical to their education
      • One student commented: “If it comes down to food on the table or buying a textbook I have to choose food.”
      • Students are willing to try alternative not always legal methods of accessing too expensive textbooks
    • David Porter from eCampusOntario joined the conversation again to clarify a few things that came up during discussion of Heather and Ali’s survey
      • eText – this is something that you buy that has a rental period – these are BAD we want open which is accessible and free forever
        • BC is trying to drive the cost of textbooks down by 50%
      • Piracy concerns are a total red herring in the discussion of textbook pricing
      • Digital source files should be able to meet all universal design and accessibility concerns

Session 6 – Getting Faculty interested in OER with Michelle Schwartz & Ann Ludbrook from Ryerson University

  • Michelle and Ann discussed the current ways they’re promoting OERs at Ryerson
    • Cross campus partnerships
      • The library has been partnered with the teacher and learning office since 2012 to:
        • Create open access week workshops
        • Conduct targeted faculty workshops
        • Publish newsletters, handouts, and how-to guides
    • They focus on what faculty want and need which is:
      • An overview of what is available to them
      • Getting other faculty members to present their work related to OERs
      • Workshops focussed on a single type of OER
      • Information on grants and funding for using, adapting and creating OERs
    • Lessons learned:
      • Sessions should be hands-on, experiential and fun
        • E.g. create a dummy Pressbooks open textbook and use that to teach faculty how to edit existing chapters and add new ones – they use two A Guide to Bears for Arts and Humanities Faculty and A Guide to Space for Math and Science Faculty (they added this one so that Faculty can see the way equations and formula look in the publication)
      • Don’t shy away from social justice
        • They were originally told not to talk about money and costs and savings with faculty
        • They discovered that once they did actually bring money into the equation faculty got more interested because they are empathetic to student concerns
    • Programs offered:
      • Liberate your course materials
        • Shows faculty how to search for OERs
        • Shows the mix and match model for supplemental course materials
          • Library services
          • Course reserves
          • Fair dealing (and Access Copyright where applicable)
          • Media databases
      • Open your textbook
        • They conduct a Kahoot quiz to test faculty to see if they actually know how much their textbook(s) cost
        • Highlights both student and faculty perspectives
        • Adopt/Adapt/Create mentality
          • Ryerson faculty members have noted that things like their citation stats increase thanks to OER work
        • The potential for grant money
        • An open textbook authoring guide based on BC Campus books models best practices
      • They also offered tailored programming upon request
    • Problems:
      • Faculty members need to get educated on Creative Commons licenses because they don’t understand them
      • The time/money dilemma – faculty members will say they don’t have the time or money to give their time up authoring free course materials so you have to help them see the opportunities/make it worth their while:
        • Educate them about adopting existing materials
        • Tell them about SPRINTS and collaboration with other subject matter experts
        • Show them what kinds of grants are out there for OER adaptation and creation
        • You’ve got to figure out how to incentivize faculty members here. Try and get your university to institute a tenure policy like the one UBC just introduced for example
      • Be aware that you might meet resistance and roadblocks in the form of a faculty member who is a textbook author profiting from the traditional model of textbook publishing
        • Not sure what University Presses would have to say about this? Something to look into perhaps! UofT seems to have embraced Open and OERs from what I can see and they have a large University Press
      • Quality – a lot of faculty members don’t think that OERs are good enough
        • Your job as OER champion is to explain that content-wise they are equal and students will still be successful – likely the only differences will be in design and look of the books
        • Stand up to faculty members about the issues of cost and circumstance
        • Cengage put out a white paper in 2016 that says OERs will be at least 20% of textbook market share by 2021
      • Re Ancillary Materials
        • Slide banks, test banks etc.
        • Where ancillary materials don’t exist Library staff can and should be willing to organise SPRINTS to put together ancillary materials for OERs

Session 7 – BCCampus information with Lauri Aesoph

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via BCCampus/OpenEd
  • BCCampus is BC’s open textbook project
    • It started at the OPENED conference in 2012 with a goal of 40 open textbooks for the highest enrolled first and second-year courses
    • Open textbook now has 173 books in its repository 54 of which are new creations, 10 major adaptations and 12 ancillary resources
    • This curated collection also includes faculty reviews directly on the resource pages
    • They use a group of advocacy and research fellows as a faculty advisory board to help with promotions. This group also conducts studies on OERs
    • Services offered to faculty include:
      • an ancillary resource development grant
      • an OER grant based on a 50/50 model where BCCampus provides 50% of the funding so long as the faculty member’s institution provides the other 50%
      • the pay for reviewing OERs
      • an Open textbook summit conference for sharing resources and experiences
        • the 2017 summit is in Vancouver on May 24/25
    • Their 3-year goals are:
      • to build institutional capacity for support of faculty members adopting existing OERs
      • produce an additional 50 OERs
      • engage with the BC post-secondary system to increase the commitment to adopting and adapting OERs
      • facilitate provincial, national and international leadership and collaboration to ensure the sustainability of their collection

Session 8 – BC OER Librarian Group Update with Debra Flewelling (Douglas College), Brenda Smith (Thompson Rivers University), and Lin Brander (BC Institute of Technology)

  • BCOEL is the BC open education librarians group which was founded in 2013. It includes librarians from institutions all across BC including Simon Fraser University, UBC, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, University of Victoria, Camosun College, Douglas College, and BCIT
  • They use the SPRINT model for creating resources at their institutions
  • They suggest that one way to help win faculty over to OERs is to buy the print edition of an OER textbook – the OpenStax books are available to purchase this way
  • They further suggest that having faculty come to speak about their experiences using and creating OERs helps to win faculty over – faculty members like hearing from other faculty members
  • If you’re looking for faculty who you can get to speak consider BCCampus’s fellows and also UManitoba’s CampusManitoba and USask’s
    • David Porter also volunteered himself as a potential speaker

Random notes not tied to any particular session:

  • If you’re interested in getting involved with editing OERs right now you can join the Rebus Community and sign up to become an editor
  • The open community always puts all their slides up on SlideShare
  • Textbook costs have risen 800% since 2013 according to one speaker
  • Talk about open at the same time as talking about copyright, especially when you’re talking to science faculty
  • There are currently 10 open textbook projects in Ontario
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