2017-18 Open Educational Resources Grants recipients announced

Projects develop accessible teaching and learning resources


Full UToday article from October 2 2017

The high cost of textbooks is one of many pressures that university students face. The Office of the Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning is leading the Open Educational Resource (OER) Pilot Project in an effort to address this issue, providing several professors with the means to adopt or adapt OERS for their own courses. The Hewlett Foundation describes Open Education Resources as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property licence that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.”

OER grants fall under two streams: “adopt and adapt” and “create.” The former category consists of projects in which grant-holders redevelop existing materials for their OERs, whereas the latter involves the inception of an OER from the foundation up.

The OER Pilot has invited instructors to submit project proposals. In the adopt and adapt model, accepted projects are funded to allow for two undergraduate student researchers to apply two to three online resources with course- and lesson-based outcomes. At the same time, instructors employ graduate students to peer review resources for their project courses. Finally, faculty selects and decides on the most appropriate resource.

Ykje Piera, OER Lead at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, makes note of the pilot project’s far-reaching potential. “This formative phase of Open Educational Resources at the University of Calgary is a bottom-up student focused model to create a knowledge sharing culture that benefits students globally,” she explains. “In replacing textbook based curriculum with OERs, the projected savings to students for each course section of the ten pilot projects is $136,965.”

Maria Stoletova, an instructor in the Haskayne School of Business, is using her grant to develop an OER for Business Process Improvement and Creative Problem Solving. “The course textbook is out of print, and only a limited quantity of used copies are available on the market now,” she says. “This creates the risk that students will not get the book via related Internet sites. Although the textbook was published in 2004, its price is about $200.”

Open educational resources allow for adaptation and up-to-date content

Stoletova sees her own OER project not only as a solution to potential financial strain, but also as a means for enriching course content. “As compared to the textbook, OERs will provide more financially accessible, widespread and up-to-date content for the students. OERs will include examples, cases, and solutions for business process improvement relevant to multiple organizations,” she notes. “Creative problem solving will be demonstrated in OERs across various areas, such as: business development, inventory, quality and supply chain management. MBA students have diverse previous work experiences and backgrounds, so each of the students will find in the OERs some information of particular interest to them.”

Elizabeth Montes Garcés, associate professor in the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures, is putting her grant toward building a first-year, fully online Spanish textbook for international student use. She believes that OERs are important in general because they provide “excellent teaching materials at no cost to students.” She also finds unique value in her own project. “It allows the professors to use, adapt, and remix according to student and classroom needs,” she says. “It brings the Hispanic world to Canadian students from a uniquely multicultural perspective. It also allows students to learn about Canada through the lens of the target language.”

Piera emphasizes the value of the OER pilot project for student research assistants. “Institutional infrastructure for the development of OERs provides student research assistants with the opportunity to learn valuable skills of information collection, assessment, and review,” she says. “In a broader context, OER development facilitates a collaborative, professional, peer-based approach to teaching.”

2017-18 OER Grant Recipients

  • Sharaz Khan, Haskayne School of Business
    “Business technology management (BMTA 601)
  • Nicole Sandblom, Faculty of Science
    “General chemistry for engineers” (CHEM 209)
  • Joanna Rankin, Cumming School of Medicine
    “Introduction to disability and social theory” (CORE 209)
  • Elena Rangelova, Schulich School of Engineering
    "Fundamentals of surveying” (ENGO 343)
  • Mayi Arcellana-Panlilio, Cumming School of Medicine
    “Honours cell & molecular biology” (MDSC 351)
  • Maria Stoletova, Haskayne School of Business
    “Business process improvement and creative problem solving” (MGST 741)
  • Jason Donev, Faculty of Science
    “Introduction to energy” (PHYS 371)
  • Kathleen Hughes, Faculty of Arts
    “Cognitive development” (PSYCH 451)
  • Elizabeth Montes Garcés, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures & Cultures
    “Beginners’ Spanish II” (SPAN 203)
  • Catherine Wagg, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
    “An introduction to veterinary clinical pathology” (VETM 442)

For more information, visit the OER Pilot Project website.