June 21, 2022

SFU Senate decision marks new commitment to open education

“Open education is a growing movement that seeks to advance affordable and accessible teaching and learning worldwide through the development and use of open educational resources (OER) and open pedagogy.” — SCUTL memo to Senate on OER, May 12, 2022.

SFU students and faculty will likely see increased access to Open Educational Resources (OER) in the years to come thanks to a recent SFU Senate decision.

On June 6, the Senate endorsed a statement authored by SFU Library with support from the OER Working Group and the Senate Committee on University Teaching and Learning (SCUTL), calling for an institution-wide commitment to OER.

OER are teaching and learning materials created with the intention of being freely accessible to users, and are generally covered by open licenses that allow for using, re-mixing and sharing.

We asked members of the OER Working Group, Hope Power, SFU Library, Dr. Nathan Roberson, Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) and Serena Bains, Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), about the implications of this decision.

Why was the statement brought to Senate now?

The SFSS has long advocated for increasing adoptions of OER as a means of addressing textbook affordability issues. In Spring 2021, the SFSS launched a petition and video campaign calling on SFU administration to prioritize support for OER initiatives.

With the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Flexible Education Initiative’s call for expanded online and blended modes of instruction, the need to advance OER has never been greater.

Read the full statement here.

Where can instructors access support for integrating OER in their classes?

For support using existing subject-based OER, see the SFU Library’s guide to OER or contact Hope Power at hpower@sfu.ca.

To learn out more about using and researching OER, contact Dr. Nathan Roberson, ISTLD, at nathan_roberson@sfu.ca.

Why does OER matter?

OER are part of a growing movement called open education that seeks to advance, affordable, accessible and flexible learning.

Open education also includes open pedagogy, a set of innovative teaching approaches and methods made possible through the use of OER in the classroom.  

In addition to broadening resource access, open education offers other teaching and learning benefits such as increased material customization, more accurate scholarship, increased collaboration and more authentic assessments.

What are the next steps for SFU?

We are establishing a task force to set direction for initiatives and activities on campus. It will report to SCUTL, and are working to identify a service model to assist with coordination of initiatives and activities at SFU.

More information

Open Educational Resources at SFU
Published by the SFU OER Working Group (2019)

This math lecturer developed her own open textbook—now thousands of students are using it
Published on SFU Learning & Teaching Stories (2021)