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Open Education in Canada

In a recent University Affairs article, Suzanne Bowness offers some wonderful coverage of open education work in the Canadian context. While the title of the article focuses on “online textbooks” this piece is actually much more indepth than that surface level insight about open education. For example, this article:

  • Defines open education resources.
  • Identifies ways in which the open education movement is aiming to reimagine and democratize learning practices (and technologies).
  • Starts to flesh out the impacts of the important paradigm shift of moving from open education resources (OERs) to open education practices.
  • Identifies the new field of research examining perceptions, uses, costs, and other aspects of open education resources and open education practices.

In fact, in regard to that last point we started to collect Canadian based research on open education in an open online bibliography that you can join using the link below.

The article identifies some of the strong contributions to advocacy that my colleagues (to name just a few @thatpsychprof, @amandacoolidge, @clintlalonde, @fdastur, @mctoonish, @maryeburgess, @lauriaesoph, @dendroglyph and @bccampus) have made to support open education practices in Canada. With so many people making excellent contributions, I was honored that Susan Bowness choose to cite my experience and work on open education. Here is an excerpt,

Professor Arthur Gill Green traces his conversion to using open educational resources, or OER, back to a specific day in his introductory geography class in 2010. That day, after the lecture, he noticed students taking photos at the back of the classroom and wondered why.
It turns out they were photographing the textbook. “Two of us every week get digital pictures of the textbook pages, and one of us gets to take it home,” a nervous student confessed upon Dr. Green’s approach. He reassured the students he wasn’t upset, but the professor now sees the incident as a disruptive moment.

“It made me realize that I was putting students into a position that was untenable, that they basically could not afford the books that I was choosing,” Dr. Green recalls. “I started to really think about my principles as a teacher. I came to the conclusion that I needed to find open education resources for my students, because if I was creating barriers to their learning, then I was violating my own core principles in my pedagogy.”

Fast forward several years and Dr. Green, an affiliate assistant professor at the University of British Columbia and instructor at Okanagan College, not only uses open educational resources, broadly defined as openly licensed teaching tools, he’s collaborating on two open geography textbooks and has developed a virtual field-trip app called Field Trip. Dr. Green has also become a research fellow for a working group on open educational resources at Utah’s Brigham Young University. Like many converts, Dr. Green sees the OER phenomenon as more than a consumer choice, but as a movement – one that is redefining his pedagogical approach to make his teaching more collaborative, inclusive and creative.

If you get a chance, give the article a read! I do believe that open education is about creating community, so contact me if you want to know more!



Mapping of Suspected Burial Sites as an Aid for the Search of the Missing

While techniques relying on Geographic Information Science (GIScience) have been applied to a number of fields over recent decades, there are still many fields wherein experimental work on applied spatial modeling is just now opening up opportunities for advancing scientific knowledge. For the last six years, I have had the honor of working with some ground-breaking, forensic anthropologists to advance scientific knowledge surrounding humanitarian aid issues. Specifically, we examine how to use GIScience and spatial statistics to model wartime killer behaviors. Accurate, precise models of these behaviors may help identify lost burial sites and eventually allow families to recover the remains of loved ones – the missing civilians and soldiers. This work has involved research on acts of violence committed in political emergencies in many complex scenarios such as the former Yugoslavia and in enduring conflicts like Nagorno-Karabakh. I have had the chance to personally work with some  amazing collaborators in this field, including Dr. Derek Congram, Hugh Tuller, Matt Vennemeyer, Michael Kenyhercz, and several current and former staff at the ICRC (financially supported this work). In fact, many of authors in this edited collection have inspired and informed our research. 

The below article represents a small sample of lessons learned from these collaborations and our experimental work. This article is an accepted manuscript for the Forensic Science International special issue on “Humanitarian Forensic Action”. Accepted manuscripts are under a 12-month embargo for many academic sharing sites, but can be immediately shared on author’s personal website. Links will be updated (DOI, journal publication link, etc.) as available. Additional licensing details for accepted manuscripts to FSI can be found here. © 2017, this manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. 
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What is Open Pedagogy?

I was invited to contribute to the Year of Open’s April Open Perspective: What is Open Pedagogy? published by the Open Education Consortium under a CC-BY license (10 April 2017). Below, you can read my contribution and you can also find it in context with the other diverse, fantastic pieces from David Wiley, Mali Baha, and Robert Schuwer on the Year of Open website.

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