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!



One thought on “Open Education in Canada

  1. Courtney Upton

    Great article having a lot of useful information. The education system in Canada encompasses both publicly-funded and private schools, including universities and university colleges. Education is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian Constitution, which means there are significant differences between the education systems of the different provinces.


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