OER Fund(ed): diverse voices and ‘beyond the classroom’ projects

Suritia Jhangiani

In February 2020, Surita Jhangiani and colleagues from the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education were awarded an OER Implementation Grant for their proposal, Opening Educational Psychology: Pathways to inclusivity and student centered practices.

With applications now open for 2021’s OER Fund grants, Surita explains the advantages of collaborating to create open educational resources, and why they’re moving away from commercial textbooks.

Q: What motivated you to apply for an OER grant?

Zero-textbook costs is important to me, as stories about students struggling financially are becoming far too common place and I think we need to do what we can to help our students thrive.

I was motivated to apply for an OER grant as I wanted to create ancillary resources that would complement the resources that are currently used for a large lecture undergraduate course. The creation of these resources would help ensure the continuation of zero-textbook costs for this course.

Q: How will students benefit from your project?

By creating our own resources, there will be greater continuity between the readings and course-related activities as we can tailor them to fit the course needs. The application-based activities such as scenarios will increase in complexity as the course progresses.

I am also particularly excited that the ancillary resources will be developed in collaboration with faculty and students. Involving a large and diverse group of people will increase the quality and diversity of the case studies and learning activities that will be created.

Q: How does the use of open resources support your teaching and learning goals?

I really want my students to create work that goes beyond the classroom. By using open resources, we can move away from ‘disposable projects’, which are ones that students work so hard on and only their instructor sees. Instead, their projects can be either be applied in their careers, or used as a resource for others.

Q: What have been your first steps towards your project?

The course that I have been granted the OER for is actually undergoing a major transformation currently, with the content and readings being updated, so it’s the perfect time for the grant.

We have just completed the course redesign, and are now ready to move on to creating the resources. This will be done with a faculty student sprint. In case you’re unfamiliar with OER sprints, they typically involve individuals with varied backgrounds and disciplinary expertise, who come together for a shared goal and work on a short time line. The move to working online means we will need to work out the logistics first!

Q: What support has been useful in helping to develop the OER? Have students been involved with the development of the work in any way?

The collaborative work that has gone into redesigning the course has been a creative and enjoyable experience, and has led to a lot of innovation in terms of course design, learning activities, and assignments.

Collaborating with faculty and students is our next step, and it’s a phase that I am looking forward to. Adding student voices to the project will add a lens and perspective to the course activities that would otherwise be missing.

I plan to continue collaborating with students through incorporating open pedagogy practices in my classes in the very near future.

Q: Why do you think that it is important for instructors to consider using or creating open educational resources?

There are many reasons, but one factor that particular resonates with me is diversity. Creating OER resources and collaborating with others allows for a diversity of voices and perspectives to be presented.

Often textbooks are written from a hegemonic Eurocentric bias, and different ways of knowing and difference experiences are disregarded. OER creates the space to disrupt this landscape and challenge longstanding ways of thinking, which are proving to be harmful.

The diversity that can be embedded into OER creates spaces for growth and transformation, which to me is compelling on its own.

I’m grateful to the UBC Open Educational Fund for this grant and the opportunity to engage in this important work.

Surita Jhangiani is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education. Surita and co-investigators received a 2020/2021 OER Implementation Grant for their project.

Applications for 2021/2022 OER Implementation Grants are now open. Thinking of applying? Learn more about the grants process at the information session on Wednesday, October 14. Learn more and apply at open.ubc.ca/oer-fund

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