Category Archives: Posts

Open Pedagogy Workshop for Open Access Week 2016

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.

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.

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

Virtual Reality, 3D Spatial Environments, and Environmental Education

This is the first post documenting work on the Stanley Park virtual reality, 3D spatial environment project. For more information on our work see Open Geography and this article from BCcampus.

A little background

In 2016, my colleagues at UBC and I embarked on a project to create 3D spatial environment destinations for virtual reality (VR) and education. The reasoning behind this project is well-described in this article by BCcampus (who co-funded our team’s work via their OER grants program). In brief, we wanted to explore how to lower barriers to accessing field locations and VR seemed like it held some unexplored potential for highly immersive and interactive content – indeed, it even has the potential to enhance learning in ways that are impossible in the field. While the potential of using VR for education has been touted for years and there are some innovative projects funded by major corporations, there has been very little work on best practices for linking pedagogically founded learning goals to VR resources. Much of the VR experience has been (rightly) about how amazing it is to simply be in a simulated environment and other work emphasizes as yet uncertain educational benefits (e.g., VR as the ultimate empathy machine). So, we conceived of our work at UBC Geography and UBC Studios as an experimental educational project in which we would document the best practices for creating, using, and sharing VR resources in educational contexts.

We decided to work on an environmental history field trip to Stanley Park. Constantly voted one of the top parks in the world, Stanley Park is not only considered one of the jewels of Vancouver, the West Coast, and Canada. While it is often considered an ideal recreation destination with educational resources for learning about the forest and marine environment, the park has a deeply controversial and fascinating development history that provides insights into urban political ecologies, settler colonialism, and the experiences of marginalized groups in Western Canada. For more see Stanley Park, the official history of Stanley ParkInventing Stanley Park, an unnatural history of Stanley Park,

We are also deeply committed to open education practices. So the project was also framed as an open pedagogy (or “OER-enabled pedagogy”) and open science project. What does this mean? it means that students would be involved as creators (effective learning strategies), our workflow and code will be shared with the public, we focus on openly licensed materials both using and creating open education resources, and we create content that has meaning for learners in our community. We were lucky to have dozens of undergraduate students working on this project. Geography students researched and wrote content, while students from UBC’s AMS Game Development Association literally wrote the code in Unity and designed 3D assets in Blender from scratch.

During this process, we continue to benefit from the collaboration of a great amount of people from both academia, the community, and private industry. We’re lucky to be in Vancouver which has a vibrant VR community innovating in this space.

The most important industry collaborators on our project have been Andrew and Peter from MetanautVR. In early 2017, they set up a project management workflow for VR projects, implemented an Agile development framework, did photogrammetry research, and mentored our student creators on VR industry best practices. This project would not be anywhere near as advanced without their professional expertise and leadership.

More about our work with the students and MetanautVR will be published in both peer-review and grey literature over the coming year. I will, however, post updates and links to our OER resources (3D assets, models, etc.) and lessons learned on this website and on our official Open Geography website.

I am using to embed the interactive content below. Sketchfab is a pretty amazing repository of 3D models that allows authors to apply a CC license to their work. The website interface supports VR if you have Google Cardboard or WebVR enabled in your browser. One drawback, is that these are lower resolution examples of our work (as Sketchfab has upload limits). All our resource are CC licensed on Sketchfab. Below is our first experiment, but all of the models will be uploaded under the Stanley Park collection here.

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. This was a simple proof of concept and shows how easy it can be to create solitary 3D assets versus creating landscape level 3D assets.


Original published: 9 July 2016

Updated: 11 May 2017