March 09, 2016

SFU announces its first OER Grant recipients

SFU's OER Grants for faculty members are part of a move toward greater integration of open educational resources. Students will benefit from reduced textbook costs and more flexible course materials.

This week—March 7 to 11, 2016—is Open Education Week, and events marking the occasion are taking place throughout the world.

The week is organized by the Open Education Consortium “to raise awareness about free and open educational opportunities that exist for everyone, everywhere, right now.”

It’s an appropriate time to announce the first five projects to receive funding through SFU’s new Open Education Resources (OER) Grants, which provide support to faculty members “wishing to redesign courses using OER as primary course materials.” The successful applicants come from the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Environment, and Applied Sciences:

  • Suzanna Crage, senior lecturer, Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
    Suzanna Crage recently took over SA 150 Introduction to Sociology, which often has class sizes of over 300 students. Her interest in OER stems from a desire to reduce the financial burden imposed on students by expensive textbooks, and from her sense that OER resources will provide her with greater flexibility in course design in a field that features great variety in the topics covered in introductory courses.
  • Michelle Levy, associate professor and Graduate Program Chair, and Colette Colligan, professor, English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
    Last year two faculty members at the University of Victoria created the Open Modernisms Anthology Builder (OpenMods), an online platform that enables instructors to build their own literary anthologies for the period 1850–1950. Michelle Levy and Colette Colligan will use their grant to develop a similar platform for the Romantic period, broadly defined as extending from 1750 to 1850. Levy plans to include students in her ENGL 327 and ENGL 376 courses in the selection, preparation and uploading of files to OpenRoms.
  • Mark Roseland, professor, and Joanna Ashworth, research associate and Director, Professional Programs, Faculty of Environment
    The applicants plan to integrate OER into one of two foundational courses belonging to the Sustainable Community Development (SCD) and Resource and Environmental Management (REM) programs. Their hope is to incorporate the materials seamlessly into the course syllabus and, if possible, Canvas to create “an integrated flipped-classroom experience for an entire semester.” Their plan builds on a project they conducted last year to develop an inventory of open learning resources pertaining to sustainability.
  • Craig Scratchley, senior lecturer, Engineering Science, Faculty of Applied Sciences
    In Craig Scratchley’s case, his interest in OER has its basis in a particular open textbook, Physical Modeling in MATLAB, that is well suited to the needs of his ENSC 180 Introduction to Engineering Analysis students in terms of its structure, content and the level of knowledge it requires from its readers. Nevertheless, Scratchley has noted a number of areas in which the book could be improved and will use his grant in part to update and adapt it to make it easier for students to use.
  • John R. Welch, professor, Resource and Environmental Management (REM) and Archaeology, and Erin Hogg, PhD candidate, Archaeology, Faculty of Environment
    The applicants plan to use OER to develop ARCH 286 Cultural Heritage Scholarship in Global Context, the first Breadth humanities course offered by the Department of Archaeology. Off-the-shelf materials do not meet the needs of this course, which addresses “the interface between the discipline of archaeology and the field of critical heritage studies.” As a result, the applicants envision finding, adapting and in some cases even creating OER materials for the course. Ultimately, they hope to “provide models and insights for other Archaeology course instructors.”

The OER Grants are funded by the Office of the VP Academic and jointly administered by the SFU Library and the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC). A unique feature of the grant program is that the Library and the TLC will provide in-kind contributions to assist recipients in locating, evaluating and adapting high-quality OER as an alternative to expensive commercial course materials.

The application deadline for the next round of grants is June 1, 2016.