UBC OER Excellence and Impact Award Recipients Announced

The Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic, at UBC Vancouver recently announced the recipients of the inaugural UBC Open Education Resources (OER) Excellence and Impact Awards. These awards recognize outstanding work by faculty who materially advance the use and impact of open educational resources in credit courses at UBC. Recipients, which included several OER Fund Grant Holders, were selected based on their overall excellence in creating, revising or using OER in teaching and learning; the impact of their OER work on students, including addressing the affordability of educational materials; and their contribution to the greater open education community at UBC.

UBC Vancouver: Individual award

Suborna Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Forest Resources Management Department

Dr. Ahmed has focused on developing multiple free and openly licensed educational resources, including creating new open textbooks, practice quizzes, and other OERs in areas such as computing in natural resources, forest biometrics, statistics and geospatial data analysis. She has worked with students on the creation of many of these resources, mentoring and fostering a collaborative environment for OER development.

In the development of OER materials, Dr. Ahmed diligently follows accessibility best practices, with a focus on creating resources with universal design principles in mind to ensure they are usable and inclusive for a diverse range of learners. For example, interactive tools and digital textbooks are designed with screen-reader compatibility and user-friendly interfaces. This commitment to accessibility, as well as her attention to incorporating inclusive language and diverse examples, underscores her dedication to creating equitable learning environments through OERs.

UBC Vancouver: Group award

Trevor Campbell, Associate Professor, Statistics
Tiffany Timbers, Associate Professor of Teaching, Statistics
Melissa Lee, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Statistics
Joel Östblom, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Statistics
Lindsey Heagy, Assistant Professor, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

Drs. Campbell, Timbers, Lee, Östblom and Heagy are recognized for their work on two textbooks on data science—the original book for the R programming language and its recently completed translation to the Python programming language—as well as their accompanying Jupyter notebook autograded worksheets. These materials replace paid course materials for over 2,300 students annually at UBC, and are used extensively in UBC’s DSCI100: Introduction to Data Science course. They are also being used in courses at several other institutions in North America, and have been accessed by people from many other parts of the world as well. In addition, team members have successfully encouraged colleagues to share course materials openly on Github.

Accessibility was a key design criterion when producing the materials. Colour palettes are designed to be accessible to all, mathematical equations are typeset in a scalable format using MathJax, and fonts are sized appropriately. Accessibility is also incorporated into the textbook content itself; for example, in the chapter on visualizations, a subsection is devoted to designing visualizations with particular colour palettes and various forms of visual redundancy.