Rajiv Jhangiani, Ph.D.

Open Education, SoTL, Psychology

Category: Uncategorized

Connect, Collaborate, Innovate: My first month at BCcampus

As I write this I am in the air, on my way to the #OpenEd17 conference in Anaheim. But as I reflect on my life over the past month—the first of my year-long secondment to BCcampus—I realize that for once my life has been anything but up in the air, as I have enjoyed the most rewarding and stable period of my work supporting the open education movement. It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you are able to pursue your passion on your desk, not just on evenings and weekends and at the expense of a healthy work-life balance.

Even before my secondment began, I received clear signals that wellness was valued and actively promoted at BCcampus, from the important words and concrete actions of our illustrious leader and model Mary Burgess through to policies and procedures concerning “time off in lieu” of work (TOIL), access to mental health support services, and constant reminders of the importance of taking vacations. I honestly *almost* feel like I might get into trouble if I work on evenings and weekends, which, for an academic, feels really strange and is taking me a while to get used to. But I am. And so is my happy family.

These two things—the ability to support open education initiatives on my desk and the opportunity to do so within such a positive organizational culture—have allowed me to bring my best to this work.

Over the past month I have worked with colleagues at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Thompson Rivers University, and the Justice Institute of British Columbia to initiate the planning and development process for Canada’s first three Zed Cred (zero textbook cost) programs. This is one of the larger projects on my desk and I have been delighted to see how thoroughly these three institutions have embraced an open and collaborative planning process. They are already looking at co-developing, peer reviewing, and reusing one another’s OER. Contracts have been drafted, deliverables outlined, and methodologies for identifying and flagging Zed Cred courses shared. Everyone realizes we are making history here and the spirit of openness is infectious. As the BCcampus tagline goes: Connect. Collaborate. Innovate.

In addition to starting work on the Zed Creds, I proposed three new initiatives to the Open Ed team at BCcampus, all of which received enthusiastic support. One involved the launch of the monthly Awards for Excellence in Open Education, what I saw as an important way to recognize the efforts of our many unsung Open Education heroes in British Columbia, be they students, faculty, support staff, administrators, or even those working from outside of post-secondary institutions. The other was the launch of Communities of Open Education Practitioners (COEPs) in Physics and Psychology (with other disciplines to follow soon). As I have written about previously, I firmly believe that the next phase of the open education movement will involve a lot more collaboration across institutions, including and especially within disciplines. This is how the movement will mature from one that is sustained by philanthropic or government support to one that is community-driven and sustained. These COEPs (which are not restricted to educators in BC) are bringing together lone innovators, enabling them to, among other things, share ideas and practices and envision and pitch OER or ancillary resource creation projects (such as a collaborative question bank authoring pilot project we are planning with Anthony Albano from Proola). One neat element of the COEPs is that these educators will use the Hypothes.is plugin to annotate open textbooks that they are using to flag areas that need updates or revisions, correct errors, and even to share relevant pedagogical resources. In fact, thanks to our receptive and helpful partners at Hypothes.is Jeremy Dean and Jon Udell we are even using an experimental version of the Hypothes.is plugin that has enabled me to pre-populate the list of tags. Once again, Connect. Collaborate. Innovate.

A third initiative I proposed (which will launch shortly, watch this space) is a listserv that will serve to connect the Open Education Working Groups (OEWGs) that have sprung up on so many BC campuses. Once again, this is a mechanism to connect like-minded people in a way that will enable the sharing of strategies, procedures, and resources, and even facilitate the coordination of event planning around Open Access and Open Education weeks. Of course, as with the COEPs, I am most excited to see all of the ways in which members of our community use the OEWG listserv that I haven’t anticipated. Yet again, Connect. Collaborate. Innovate.

Outreach has been another important focus of my work over the past month. A lot of this has been with students, who, it cannot be said too often, are vital partners in the Open movement. I have connected with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the BC Federation of Students (BCFS), and the Alliance of BC Students (ABCS) and supported and advised student associations at Simon Fraser University, Dalhousie University, UBC-Okanagan, the University of Regina, University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, Western University, McMaster University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Sheridan College, Capilano University, and Douglas College. It pleases me greatly to see so many of them taking great strides forward. For example, take a look at this eloquent and compelling argument for federal support for OER creation made last month in Ottawa by the CASA Board Chair Shifrah Gadamsetti.

Another group I have been delighted to connect with is the Commonwealth of Learning, who operate mainly in the Global South but coordinate their operations out of Burnaby, BC. Their expertise is truly staggering and the challenges they face sometimes daunting and I am grateful to Ishan Abeywardena and Johannes Hendrikz for being enthusiastically open to collaboration. I looking forward to seeing where this new-found relationship takes us. Connect. Collaborate. Innovate.

Although other projects—such as research with the Open Education Fellows and planning for the 2018 Festival of Learning—quietly continue in the background, two other things have been especially noteworthy about my first month. One has been the space and time intentionally set aside for strategic planning. Amanda Coolidge organized this early for the Open Education team at BCcampus, which allowed Amanda, Lauri, Josie, Lucas, and me to collaboratively envision and plan for our team’s goals for the year ahead (and beyond). Along the same lines (although more recently), I was invited to Thompson Rivers University to facilitate the development of a strategic framework that would bring together their various open education initiatives (championed variously by the library, Open Learning, and the TRU student union). As with the BCcampus Open Education planning session and the initial planning meeting with the Zed Cred institutions, the spirit of innovation and collaboration was apparent at this meeting (for more, see this blog post by Irwin DeVries). The resulting framework and implementation plan will soon be shared publicly and, I hope, will serve as a model for other institutions that wish to follow TRU’s lead in this space.

The second noteworthy aspect has been the intentional thought and focus on inclusion, diversity, and equity at BCcampus, which has included a terrific and thought-provoking webinar with the peerless Lorraine Cheun and a follow-up roundtable discussion at the BCcampus staff retreat. Every team at BCcampus appears to me to be invested in this discussion and critical self-reflection, from those leading our indigenization initiative to those supporting educational technology (e.g., Are we using any algorithms that inadvertently reinforce existing power structures?). It has been gratifying to see how personally invested my new colleagues are in ensuring that we as focused on values and process as we are on the provision of resources and services.

One final note, this one a personal one addressed to my new colleagues on the Open Education team Amanda, Lauri, Josie, and Lucas. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into the fold, for being patient with me, for taking the time to teach me, for sharing your nascent ideas with me, and for trusting my judgment. I have long admired your work from a distance, but up close it is truly inspiring. You are now part of my family and I am very proud and grateful to be a part of yours.

2016: My Year in Review

2016 was a busy, unforgettable year.

By the numbers, 28 keynotes or invited talks, 12 conference presentations, 2 published chapters + 2 in press, 2 published journal articles + 2 in press, and 1 edited FAQ site.

This was a year for both family and opportunity, some setbacks but much progress, the occasional need to pitch a battle or take a principled stand, the discovery of many new allies, and the opportunity to meet many personal heroes.

It began at St. Pete’s beach in Florida at the National Institute for the Teaching of Psychology (where I will be again this week), co-hosting a discussion titled “Textbooks are dead and traditional assignments suck” with my dear friend Robert Biswas-Diener (aka the “Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology”; aka Senior Editor of NOBA Psychology). Although I would step down from my position as Associate Editor of NOBA in May, Robert and I continued to work together for the rest of the year, editing and writing chapters for our forthcoming volume, “Open: The philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science.” With any luck this book will be published by Ubiquity Press (open access, duh) early in 2017. I am so grateful to Robert for his boldness (“we should publish a book!”) and to our contributors for their enthusiastic support and for sharing their hard-earned insights.

January also marked my first campus visit for the Open Textbook Network at the University of Washington, during which I had the honour of shadowing David Ernst and Sarah Cohen. In truth, I was blown away when they asked me to join the OTN team a few months earlier and have since thoroughly enjoyed facilitating faculty workshops for the OTN at Temple University (April), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (September), George Fox University (also September), and the University of Northern Iowa (October).

February was PACKED and had me thanking the lord that I don’t teach in the Spring. A guest lecture at the University of British Columbia was followed by keynote addresses or invited talks for Campus Stores Canada, the University of Waterloo, McMaster University, Sheridan College, and Ryerson University (phew!), and an unforgettable Hewlett Foundation grantees meeting aboard a riverboat sailing up the Mississippi from New Orleans.

March began in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I gave a talk for the Psychology Department and then went on a road trip with my dear friend and collaborator (in all things, including Kriss Kross karaoke) Erin Hardin through Chattanooga to Atlanta. There we co-presented on our article about skill development in Intro Psych at the Southeastern Teaching of Psychology conference. I flew back from Atlanta just in time to leave again for Edmonton, where I keynoted at the U of Alberta’s Open Education week event, reuniting over dinner with future collaborator Danielle Paradis. I participated in a panel discussion (once again, for Open Education week) at UBC and hosted the generous Paul Stacey at Kwantlen for a talk about all things Creative Commons. March wound up with two more guest lectures (at the Justice Institute of BC) and another talk, this one on the Psychology of Genocide at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, to students about to take part in the March of the Living.

In April Surita and I took the boys to India—their first trip and my first in 7 years—which involved family reunions aplenty, city hopping, gully cricket, divine food, serious heat, fun shopping, and delicious mangoes. Back just in time for the start of the summer semester.

May hit the ground running with four classes, two interviews, and a webinar for the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources. Plenty of meetings that month, including with the Association of BC students about OER advocacy strategy and a delightful lunch with the even more delightful Sirish Rao, who convinced me to give a talk at the upcoming Indian Summer festival.

June sent me to Sarnia, Ontario, where I gave a talk and a workshop about OER at Lambton College. Oh and then I broke my hand. And fingers. At cricket practice, no less. Sadly this was right after I took a wicket (top of off stump, if that means anything to you—AND IT SHOULD). Even more sadly, it ended my cricket season and took me out of the classroom for a few weeks as I couldn’t type or drive or much else normally. Much pain, much rehab, and an increasingly smelly cast (TMI, I know).

July featured a GO-GN webinar and that 5×15 talk at the Indian Summer festival (about privilege, moral justifications, and the psychological foundations of evil). And much more rehab.

August brought a welcome if brief getaway with the family in Whistler, followed by the American Psychological Association conference (my first, in Denver), the Open Textbook Network summer institute (at the University of Minnesota), meetings aplenty with friends from THE Ohio State U, Plenty of Fish, the Commonwealth of Learning, BCcampus, an instructor at Maskwacis Cultural College in Alberta interested in adopting OER, and a group I puled together to began planning and organizing the inaugural Open Education Ontario summit.

September and the start of the new semester brought me back to campus to teach three courses, visit North Carolina and Oregon for the OTN, give a keynote  at Alexander College in Burnaby, and give a talk as part of POF Talks in Vancouver.

October was unforgettable and began en route to Inverness in Scotland (via lovely Amsterdam) to represent KPU at the annual OERu Partners’ meeting. An immensely productive meeting in a positively breathtaking location with my dear friends Brian Lamb and Irwin DeVries. Back (groggy-eyed and caffeine-fueled) in time for the BCcampus Open Education Strategy Session at BCIT in downtown Vancouver, followed a week later by a cherished trip with my older son—his first accompanying me on a work trip. This one was at Oregon State U where we were hosted by the incredible and kind (and incredibly kind) Dianna Fisher. No doubt the first of many such trips for K and I.

October wrapped with a trip to Northern Iowa, another interview, Open Access Week events at Simon Fraser University and KPU, and the Fall ETUG workshop, where I got to see Audrey Watters (for the first time since South Africa)and meet Kin Lane (for the first time).

The penultimate month rivalled the second for busyness, with the Open Education Conference (Richmond, Virginia, four presentations), a keynote address at Mount Royal University in Calgary (bonus dinner with Amanda Coolidge at the Calgary airport!), and my first OpenCon conference (Washington, DC, one panel). Plus all the teaching and wrapping up an editing project for 100 FAQs about OER for the Commonwealth of Learning.

And finally, December marked the end of the semester, sent me into my grading bunker for a couple of weeks, and more importantly allowed me to enjoy the Christmas break with the boys before the travel madness of January arrives.

At KPU, I believe we accomplished a lot during 2016. We surpassed 100 course adoptions for open textbooks, held workshops for our community about Creative Commons licensing and Open Pedagogy, launched and oversaw the first round of a small grants program for faculty wishing to adapt or adopt OER, applied for external grants to support our work, conducted research, raised awareness, and continued taking proactive steps towards a culture of Open. KPU also created a new position—via a 50% faculty teaching release—known as the University Teaching Fellow in Open Studies. I applied, interviewed, and, to my delight and everlasting gratitude, was successful in this competition. This finally gives me what I have always sought—the time to do what I have been doing so far off the side of my desk (and at the cost of a reasonable work-life balance) and gives me great reason for optimism in 2017.

So, to Amanda Coolidge, Mary Burgess, Jesse Stommel, Robin DeRosa, Martin Weller, Brian Lamb, Irwin DeVries, Wayne Mackintosh, David Wiley, David Porter, Kelsey Wiens, Dianna Fisher, Sarah Cohen, David Ernst, Joshua Bolick, Amy Collier, Sean Michael Morris, Audrey Watters, Danielle Paradis, Nicole Allen, Heather Joseph, Paul Stacey, Brady Yano, Cable Green, Clint Lalonde, Tannis Morgan, Alan Levine, Grant Potter, Jamison Miller, Jon Tennant, Beck Pitt, Rob Farrow, Christina Hendricks, Sara Trettin, Karen Bjork, Amy Hofer, Meg Brown-Sica, Steven J. Bell, Beth Bernhardt, Ishan Abeywardena, Robert Biswas-Diener, Peter Lindberg, Merinda McLure, Shawn Gilbertson, Erika Smith, Cari Merkley, Jess Mitchell, Jutta Treviranus, Lena Patterson, Leonora Zefi, Alexa Roggeveen, Joe Kim, TJ Bliss, John Hilton, Serena Henderson, Erin Hardin, Sirish Rao, Tara Robertson, Erin McKiernan, Shirley Lew, Baharak, Rick Overeem, Michelle Brailley, Lin Brander, Debra Flewelling, Trish Rosseel, Delmar Larsen, Scott Marsden, Tom Woodward, Viv Rolfe, David Kernohan (and others whom I have no doubt missed):

You are my family, in open education, in pedagogy, and in social justice. You have enriched my life. And I am grateful.

I can’t wait to continue to change the world with you in 2017.

The Fellowship of the Open

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of working with the fine folk at BCcampus a fair bit – first as a reviewer of two open textbooks, then as an adopter of three, adapter of two, organizer of an open test bank sprint, and a co-presenter at professional development workshops at Capilano University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. So when I saw another potential excuse to spend time with Mary, Amanda, and Clint, I couldn’t help but apply for one of three Faculty Fellow positions with their open education program.

Today was the first meeting of us fellows – Christina Hendricks (UBC Philosophy) and Jessie Key (VIU Chemistry) are the other two – at BCcampus headquarters in Victoria. We received a briefing about the status of the Open Textbook Project and discussed our roles over the next year (mainly research, advocacy, & feedback to the OT team). In some ways this will be a continuation of our efforts thus far but there are many new opportunities as well (e.g., outreach within our disciplines and to student groups, presenting at the next Open Textbook summit in Vancouver, research funding, etc.). I am especially pleased to lead the research initiative, including an online survey of BC faculty that Clint and I have been working on recently with Beck Pitt (OER Research Hub) that is almost ready for launch, and that fits very well within my own research agenda at KPU.

Christina and Jessie are already doing remarkable work in the open arena and I look forward to working closely with them. Our mandate is thrilling, we have great support at BCcampus, and I believe we will collectively be able to help tangibly advance the open education agenda here in BC.

The Future is Open (https://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/43164) by Luke Surl under CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)