Reading the Cape Town Open Education Declaration

I have mentioned the Cape Town Open Education Declaration in many of my public presentations, including a recent keynote Beyond Reading Our Rights: The Changing Paradigms of Open Education for the British Columbia Open Education Librarians. The text was drafted in 2007 at a meeting in Cape Town by the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Shuttleworth Foundation. Since then it has been signed by several thousand people across the world. Like Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, this declaration’s text has become one of the foundational, reflective pieces of my work as an educator.

There are so many sources of inspiration in the open education movement.  Reflecting on the status of the three strategies described in the declaration (i.e. educators and learners, OER, and open education policies) provides a source of inspiration – both looking back at accomplishments and looking forward at what is to come. The theoretical work and research findings regarding the best practices for making and benefits of OER (the second strategy) have experienced dramatic advances since 2007 thanks to groups like the OER Research Hub, the Hewlett Foundation-funded Open Education Group, and BCcampus OpenEd innovators. Meanwhile, research and theory regarding educators and learners (open pedagogy) and open education policies (which I read broadly as the potential of transformative open educational practices within our societal contexts) are currently experiencing an incredibly fecund moment through the diverse contributions of many people whom I am excited to work with and know – check out  MillerJamison   acoolidge johnhiltoniii.

I have copied the original text of the declaration below. In keeping with the ethos of open, the original text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License and the drafters encourage adaptation of this text to fit each of our unique settings – be that drafting institutional policies, regional declarations, or simply personal teaching statements.

I encourage you to read it and sign it if you find some resonance with your work.

Cape Town Open Education Declaration:
Unlocking the promise of open educational resources

We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.

This emerging open education movement combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet. It is built on the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint. Educators, learners and others who share this belief are gathering together as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective.

The expanding global collection of open educational resources has created fertile ground for this effort. These resources include openly licensed course materials, lesson plans, textbooks, games, software and other materials that support teaching and learning. They contribute to making education more accessible, especially where money for learning materials is scarce. They also nourish the kind of participatory culture of learning, creating, sharing and cooperation that rapidly changing knowledge societies need.

However, open education is not limited to just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues. It may also grow to include new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning. Understanding and embracing innovations like these is critical to the long term vision of this movement.

There are many barriers to realizing this vision. Most educators remain unaware of the growing pool of open educational resources. Many governments and educational institutions are either unaware or unconvinced of the benefits of open education. Differences among licensing schemes for open resources create confusion and incompatibility. And, of course, the majority of the world does not yet have access to the computers and networks that are integral to most current open education efforts.

These barriers can be overcome, but only by working together. We invite learners, educators, trainers, authors, schools, colleges, universities, publishers, unions, professional societies, policymakers, governments, foundations and others who share our vision to commit to the pursuit and promotion of open education and, in particular, to these three strategies to increase the reach and impact of open educational resources:

1. Educators and learners: First, we encourage educators and learners to actively participate in the emerging open education movement. Participating includes: creating, using, adapting and improving open educational resources; embracing educational practices built around collaboration, discovery and the creation of knowledge; and inviting peers and colleagues to get involved. Creating and using open resources should be considered integral to education and should be supported and rewarded accordingly.

2. Open educational resources: Second, we call on educators, authors, publishers and institutions to release their resources openly. These open educational resources should be freely shared through open licences which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone. Resources should be published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Whenever possible, they should also be available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not yet have access to the Internet.

3. Open education policy: Third, governments, school boards, colleges and universities should make open education a high priority. Ideally, taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources. Accreditation and adoption processes should give preference to open educational resources. Educational resource repositories should actively include and highlight open educational resources within their collections.

These strategies represent more than just the right thing to do. They constitute a wise investment in teaching and learning for the 21st century. They will make it possible to redirect funds from expensive textbooks towards better learning. They will help teachers excel in their work and provide new opportunities for visibility and global impact. They will accelerate innovation in teaching. They will give more control over learning to the learners themselves. These are strategies that make sense for everyone.

Thousands of educators, learners, authors, administrators and policymakers are already involved in open education initiatives. We now have the opportunity to grow this movement to include millions of educators and institutions from all corners of the earth, richer and poorer. We have the chance to reach out to policymakers, working together to seize the opportunities ahead. We have the opportunity to engage entrepreneurs and publishers who are developing innovative open business models. We have a chance to nurture a new generation of learners who engage with open educational materials, are empowered by their learning and share their new knowledge and insights with others. Most importantly, we have an opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world through freely available, high-quality, locally relevant educational and learning opportunities.

The above work is licensed  Creative Commons License to the original drafters. The original text is here.

Open Pedagogy Workshop for Open Access Week 2016

These workshop slides on open pedagogy and open science are openly-licensed as CC BY 4.0. Download the slides here.

For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth. ~Plutarch? 

One of the most exciting evolution in pedagogy over the last few years is the integration of open education resources (OERs) and open practices into teaching and learning. During Open Access Week 2016, I had the pleasure and opportunity to lead a workshop on open pedagogy with my BCcampus Faculty Fellow colleagues at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). I think I can speak for all of us when I say it was truly inspiring to see the administrative support of, faculty enthusiasm for, and student participation in the open education movement at KPU. We planned the workshop as a hands-on create your own open pedagogy project using the liberating structures activity Troika consulting. That rapidly turned into an illuminating group discussion about experiences integrating and developing OER. KPU is truly in the open.

Before we started the hands-on workshop, we presented an overview of open education, open science, and several lessons learned from our work integrating OER into new pedagogical approaches. Many of the examples came from work with my colleagues on Open Geography at UBC and on the authentic learning projects presented by our students’ open scholarship website.

We share these slides above in the hopes that they can be a resource for those of you interested in taking next steps in open pedagogy and stimulating discussion on open education. Many thanks to KPU Open Education for the invitation and special thanks to Caroline Daniels (KPU Library) and Rajiv Jhangiani for being such gracious hosts.


Call for Papers “Researching Conflict”

Please forward this call for papers for “Researching Conflict” a special section of ACME or issue of another major geographical journal to interested scholars.

***Call For Papers Researching Conflict***
Research on geographies of conflict is inherently messy and difficult, muddled with power relations, riddled with foggy recollections, and often enabled with the help of “fixers” with a stake in the conflict. Recognizing this, we invite papers that explore what it means to ‘do research in violent settings’ in a variety of geographic contexts. We especially welcome papers which recognize the inability of the researcher to be objectively separate from the conflict, and consider instead how research as well as the researcher are implicated and embedded in the violent conditions being studied. While this special issue builds on existing methodological texts of fieldwork in conflict zones, it contributes to wider geographic debates from post-colonial, feminist, and political ecology perspectives. Perspectives that emphasize the explicitly normative and unequal positions of researchers in the field in relation to their subjects and settings of investigation. Specifically, we hope that the special issue will provide guidance on research in violent spaces beyond what traditional methodological texts provide and critically interrogate violence as done to and done through the research process itself.

This special issue seeks to present the experiences of scholars working from a range of different fields and spanning experiences across the globe. We are interested in balancing contributions from established as well as emerging scholars. In addition to traditionally structured research manuscripts, this special issue will include interventions and creative works. We encourage interested scholars to consider a wide playing field for these creative submissions. We especially welcome pieces which extend beyond the boundaries of traditional printed page such as interactive works of art, technology, video, and sound.

If you are interested in contributing to this special issue, please submit an abstract of no more than 450 words by 31 August 2016. In addition, we encourage authors to include a few keywords that capture the central themes of the intended paper. An example (not
intended to be used as parameters or limits to possible entries) of keywords is provided in the attached word cloud. Abstract submissions should be made via e-mail to Please include in the subject line “Researching Conflict”. Accepted authors will be notified by mid-September 2016 and provided a detailed timeline for submission and publication as well as other potential opportunities connected to the special issue.

Editors: Ann Laudati (UC Berkeley), Stephen Aldrich (Indiana University), and Arthur Gill Green (University of British Columbia).

More details can be found here:

Photo credit: By MONUSCO Photos – Aerial view Lusenda Burundi refugee camp., CC BY-SA 2.0,

Tossing Out the Disposable Teaching Philosophy Statement

If you are reading this post, you may have been recently asked by a potential employer to provide a teaching philosophy statement. So, heads up! I am not  a job application guru and this post is not about helping you craft the perfect job application adapted to a specific employer. This post is about getting away from the teaching philosophy statement ‘for hire’ model and rethinking why we write teaching philosophy statements at all. Can we agree that it is unfortunate that many of us do not revisit our teaching statements often enough or even share them with anyone but hiring committees?

While I originally wrote my own teaching philosophy statement under job search circumstances, I have come to believe that we have been writing our statements for the wrong audience. While working on open education and authentic learning approaches over the last several years, I have tried my best to dispose of ‘the disposable assignment’. This has made me question many of the disposable products that we ‘must’ create as academics – including the disposable teaching philosophy statement. After all, who is the actual audience for a teaching philosophy statement? Who benefits from reading it? Who benefits from writing it?

I no longer think that the potential employer is the correct audience. Ideally, the audience of these statements is the writer and the writer’s community. It is us. Reflecting on our approaches to teaching and learning should inspire us to refocus on and evolve our core principles. Such reflection could immensely benefit if shared within a community (the ethos of open).

So, I am putting mine here on this website to open up my process. These are the values by which I teach and learn. They may not be perfect and they will certainly evolve, but they are a constant reminder of my core principles and sources of inspiration.

It would be great to hear other’s thoughts on this…  Is it time to get rid of the disposable teaching philosophy statement? Should educators share their teaching statements with students and have students create learning philosophy statements? Is there a different, better way to approach our teaching philosophy statements?

Photogrammetry and OER Field Trips

We’ve embarked on a project to create virtual reality destinations for education (shout out to BCcampus for funding our team’s work on this project via their OER grants program). As part of our work to create these OER virtual destinations around Vancouver, we have had to dive (read ‘belly flop’) into photogrammetry and some other amazing modeling techniques in which I never imagined I would be involved. We are learning to create 3D models of landscapes that can then be imported as virtual locations. In fact, I just started to experiment with building out virtual destinations using photogrammetry and the Destinations Workshop Tookit (beta) for VR headsets. The toolkit contains an amazing suite of 3D modeling tools that we are just beginning to grasp.

I’ll document my photogrammetry experiments and catalogue the materials  (the good, the bad, and the ugly… hopefully some fantastic too) that I create for these education-focused virtual field trip locations. Everything we produce is OER and openly licensed. I am using to embed the interactive content below (you can even view the models in Google Cardboard). Sketchfab is a pretty amazing repository of 3D models that allows authors to apply a CC license to their work.

Experiment 01. This was our first experiment at making a 3D model using photogrammetry, created using 12 pictures taken by Nexus 5 and processed by Autodesk ReMake.

Keys (raw 3D model from AutoDesk)

FieldPress Field Trip Plugin

I am excited to announce the beta release of a WordPress plugin that we have been developing at UBC Geography for the last six months. FieldPress is a WordPress plugin that allows instructors to create and manage field trips online. This plugin provides instructors with a user-friendly environment to build field trips, add multimedia content, create assessments and manage student activity.

FieldPress is open source and is an open educational resource (OER). We are offering access to the beta version of the plugin via GitHub. If you would like to learn more about managing field trips and how to install the plugin on your own installation of WordPress you can use the below links. This plugin will work only on your own installation of WordPress not on blogs maintained on Once we move out of beta, our plugin will be available in the WordPress plugin repository.

Prepackaged beta plugin:

Latest version of the plugin code:

User manual:

Demo Website: is a demonstration website for displaying and testing the capabilities of the FieldPress plugin for WordPress.

If you would like to experience FieldPress as a student user, please following these easy three steps:

  1. Sign up for an account here:
  2. Confirm your account. After signing up you should get an email confirmation. Make sure to check your spam folder.
  3. Sign up for any of our demo field trips here:

If you want to see the backend (as an instructor) you will need to have WordPress administrator role on a website. At this time we are not providing public instructor/administrator access to our demo site, but you can install the plugin on your own WordPress installation.

Just one last note, FieldPress is an exciting example of students as creators. It is primarily the result of the work of a talented, recently-graduated student named Kimi Shen adapting code from CoursePress. The plugin is open source. So, we are looking for feedback from and collaboration with early adopters. We were excited to see Professor David Wright implement the plugin so quickly! Hopefully, he is the first of many!

See more at:

Teaching in the Open: Open Pedagogy and Responsible Pedagogy

It was an honor to share my work on open pedagogy as a teaching strategy with the University of British Columbia Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (@UBC_CTLT). They put together a little video vignette as part of their Open Dialogues that allowed me to (1) explain  the experiences that led me to become an advocate for Open Educational Resources (OER), (2) talk about the role of BCcampus in promoting OER in British Columbia, (3) define why OER are critical approaches to responsible pedagogy, and (4) reflect on what open pedagogy means to learners (and I include both “students” and myself as a “professor” in the category of learners).

Here is the CTLT post and video:

I have a long term itch to write about why open pedagogy matters for geography, environmental studies, and environmental sciences… but that will have to wait until after the the Association of American Geographers meeting in San Francisco and our presentation on using open science approaches for teaching Geographic Information Science.

By the way, I should also point out the presentations by my colleagues on our collaborative research on understanding the neoliberalization of pedagogy and the geography of teaching and learning (Turner) and on developing virtual reality and augmented reality field trip (Brown)! Here’s a taste of the virtual reality Sea-to-Sky field trip that we developed as an experiment using 360 cameras, Holobuilder, and Google Cardboard to increase field trip accessibility!


Watershed Delineation GIS – Open Education Resource

This is histogram equalized image of the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission data for the border of Nigeria and Cameroon (Faro River Basin).

This is an histogram equalized image of the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) 1 Arc-Second (30 meter) data for the border of Nigeria and Cameroon (Faro River Basin). The same data is used in the below tutorial on Water Delineation. Arthur G. Green (CC BY SA).

The above slides are a tutorial for people who want to learn how to do watershed delineation using Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM). The tutorial is free and licensed as CC BY SA. It can be downloaded here.

The tutorial uses SRTM 1 Arc-Second (30 meter resolution) data to map the Faro River basin near the Cameroon and Nigeria border. The methods can be applied to any region as the data for the tutorial is free (open data) from USGS that can be downloaded here

I created this tutorial for my Advanced Geographic Information Science students at UBC in March 2016. The tutorial uses ArcMap 10.3, so you will need access to that software and the software’s Spatial Analyst license.

Let me know if you find it useful or see something that could be improved!

Download Options

  1. You can download the slides from SlideShare.
  2. The data is free from USGS Earth Explorer.

Where are Tchabal Mbabo and the Faro River?

Tchabal Mbabo cliffs looking out on the Faro River Basin. Arthur G. Green (CC BY SA).

Tchabal Mbabo cliffs looking out on the Faro River Basin. Arthur G. Green (CC BY SA).


Creative Commons License
Watershed Delineation by Arthur Gill Green is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.