College of the Rockies Instructor Collaborates on Open Education Resource Project

College of the Rockies’ University Science instructor, Katie Burles, worked with geography faculty from nine B.C. post-secondary institutions to develop an online open educational resource that will be used by students across the province, free of charge, this fall.

“In three short months, we developed a 22-assignment lab manual that will be used for the College’s Geography 101 course, and similar first-year physical geography courses around the province,” Burles said. “Best of all, students will not have to pay for a lab manual.”

Burles, along with Crystal Huscroft from Thompson Rivers University, initially envisioned the concept of sharing ideas, materials, and labs between instructors across B.C. This quickly evolved into responding to the need for online geography lab resources as a result of the sudden shift to online learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Soon, more than 14 faculty members from post-secondary institutions across B.C. were collaborating on the creation of assignments that were not limited by the traditional correct/incorrect response activities. Their goal was to develop a tool that provided a more authentic evaluation of student understanding. The resulting labs and tutorial were then reviewed by additional B.C. geography instructors and a trial version of the manual was developed.

This manual will be shared with geography instructors across the province for use starting in September and will be tweaked, if necessary, as a result of feedback from both faculty and students. After this initial run, it will be made more widely available through BC Campus’ OpenEd site.

“I think this project demonstrates an incredibly positive side of the pandemic,” Burles said. “Instead of us all developing online resources independently, we worked together to create an invaluable online teaching resource.

Burles has also received College of the Rockies Common Faculty Professional Development funds to continue to work on open education resources over the upcoming year.

“Open textbook resources have saved B.C. students over $19 million in textbook costs since 2012,” said Darrell Bethune, Dean of University Studies. “The geography lab manual is a great example of faculty collaboration to reduce financial barriers to education. Every student who uses this manual will benefit tremendously from Katie’s hard work and that of her colleagues.”

Original article from College of the Rockies