Category Archives: OER

The End of a Journey: Summary of Learning

The making of my Summary…

Maybe because I’m a bit nuts, I have always challenged myself to use a new tool for the Summary of Learning projects I’ve done for my grad classes with Alec.  This go-around was no exception.  I narrowed my choices down to two: and Sutori. Ultimately I chose Sutori because it had the least amount of options for creation!  Both can be used as presentation tools… but has WAY more capabilities than just a presentation tool and I did not want to fall into a rabbit hole.  Check it out for yourself!

Because I knew I wanted a way to include links to some of the content but still needed a way to share my learning in a “watchable” format for class, I “presented” my Summary of Learning on Sutori and captured it using Screencastify.  The link to the presentation on Sutori is here –SUMMARY OF LEARNING PRESENTATION.   When you view it as a presentation, you will notice the arrow beside some text.  Click on the arrow and it will open a hyperlinked site for you. 

The one link that I think everyone needs to explore is Top Tools for Learning 2019.  We have talked about or used a variety of these within our class this semester, but some of them are new to me and I am looking forward to exploring them.

As mentioned in my Summary and on Twitter, I curated a Wakelet of some of the Ed Tech we used this semester in class – check it out HERE.  I’d love to have more contributors – shoot me a message!  (and yes, I know I have a grammar error in my Tweet.  Ugh.)

As I mentioned, I used Screencastify to capture the entire presentation as well as to record a Star Wars Intro Crawler I created using part of our course syllabus.  Unfortunately this got cut from the presentation because my video became too long!  So, for your viewing pleasure, here you go!



A couple more tools:

I used Bitmoji for the cute little avatar likenesses – Bitmoji Kyla is way more put together than Real Life Kyla this last week, that’s for sure!

Bitmoji Image


and I used Canva to create two of the images in the presentation:

The Big Four – EC&I 831
Social Medium Exploration


Those are the highlights!  I hope you enjoy my summary of learning as much as I enjoyed my time in class this semester!

KYLA’S TOP TAKEAWAY from class:  Wakelet.  It has changed how I organize information in all aspects of my life.  Seriously.


Riding the #wakeletwave


I humbly present my Summary of Learning for EC&I 831.

Disclaimer:  I have a terrible cold and my nose is red and runny… hence, no webcam views of me.  You’re welcome.


BCcampus OpenEd, A Great Resource

“Open Educational Resources” flickr photo by Eugene Open Educational Resources shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Working on online courses in a post-secondary institution, I am very interested in OERs.  Some online classes don’t require textbooks, but lots do.  I think it would be amazing if we could use more open textbooks, and reduce the cost of taking classes for students.

I decided to explore and review the BCcampus OpenEd site to see what resources are available and how easy they are to find and use.  This collection of OERs fits my needs perfectly because its focus is on open textbooks for the most popular first and second-year classes in post-secondary education.

The first thing I noticed about BCcampus OpenEd is that the whole site is about educating people about open education and answering any questions they might have about why or how they should use open textbooks.  It answers the questions, what is open education, how to use open textbooks, how to create open textbooks and how to advocate for open education.

Once you are ready to discover the resources that are available, there 304 open textbooks to choose from. On the Browse Our Collection tab, there is a large search bar with filter options.  On this page, it clearly lists all of the filter options with descriptions, so you know exactly what each term means.

Filter options include:

  • Faculty Reviewed – choose open textbooks that have been reviewed and approved by instructors and faculty from B.C. and other provinces
  • Adopted – find open textbooks that have been selected by instructors and added to their curriculum
  • Accessible – open textbooks that meet the accessibility requirements outlined in the BCcampus Open Education Accessibility Toolkit
  • Ancillary Resources – open textbooks with additional components, which could include quizzes, case studies, simulations, multi-media content, and other tools to help the learning process

One thing that encourages instructors to use publisher textbooks is the additional resources that are available when they use that textbook.  Such as question banks, lesson plans, and learning activities.  So I was happy to see that there are 149 textbooks with ancillary resources on BCcampus OpenEd.  This is a great start to making open textbooks more appealing to instructors.

Another way to search the catalogue is by using the accordion menu on the left hand of the search bar.  I really like the accordion menu because it allows you to easily browse through the collection of textbooks and resources if you aren’t sure what you are looking for.  Or if you just want to see what is available.

BCcampus OpenEd

Once you find a textbook you are interested in, you can then choose from multiple formats to download it in for reading, editing or printing.

BCcampus did a great job when they created the OpenEd website.  It is very clearly laid out, and it highlights why open textbooks are important.  It explains how to adopt an open textbook and has lots of resources if you would like to create your own.  There are two different ways to search for a textbook and both were easy to navigate.  The one thing I would recommend is allowing users to rate textbooks.  That wasn’t available, but you were able to filter your search based on whether or not a textbook is Faculty Reviewed, which is a similar feature.  There also aren’t a huge number of resources available, but it is currently focusing on popular first and second-year classes and trades for post-secondary education.  If that is the area that you are in, this is a great resource and I would recommend it highly.

Creating a Symphony Through OEP: Open Educational Practices in the Primary Classroom

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock

Isn’t this the case with learning? We need community and connection with others to enhance our skills, passion, and depth. When we do this, similar to a symphony, something beautiful is created. How can we do that in the classroom? Through Open Educational Practices. Although you may question what this is, my guess is that you’ve probably used it without knowing, just as I did.

According to Catherine Cronin and Iain MacLaren, Open Educational Practices (OEP) are the “collaborative, pedagogical practices employing social and participatory technologies for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creation and sharing, and empowerment of learners.”

K-12 Open Educational Practice (Roberts, Blomgren 2017)

In other words, in a primary classroom setting, OEP looks like giving students the opportunity to co-create their questions and end goals, take charge of their learning through online sources and platforms, and share their knowledge and experiences beyond the classroom to inspire others. In the words of Loreli Thibault, the intention of OEP “is to broaden learning from a focus on access to knowledge, to a focus on access to knowledge creation.”

There are many elements that make up this type of pedagogy in a K-12 Learning Environment, and Dr. Verena Roberts lays out the steps that can take you there through the Open Learning Design Intervention. I am confident that at one point or another, you have taken part in and facilitated some of these key elements of Open Educational Pedagogy.

Stage 1: Building Relationships
Before starting any project in the classroom, a safe space needs to be established for students to feel like they belong and their voice is heard. This step is all about setting the stage and reassuring students that learning means making mistakes and growing from them. As educators, this should be our top priority in the classroom. Our students voices matter and building connection within our own community is key. Reminding kids that, throughout this whole learning process, they matter – a message that remains on my classroom door everyday.

Stage 2: Co-Designing Learning Pathways
This is where students can take part in co-creating their learning and sharing their desires for the learning process. Criteria is discussed, questions are posed, goals are set, choices are given, digital citizenship is instilled, and motivation begins. I really like how Dr. Verena states that this is where the deep learning occurs, which is sustainable, rather than limited and surface level. BC Campus says that “instead of using disposable assignments that offer no value to the student or the instructors, your students, under your direction and supervision, can build a resource designed to improve the learning space.” When students are asked to come up with their own questions and are given the responsibility to do their own inquiry, they show up and engage deeper.

Stage 3: Building and Sharing Knowledge
Evidence of learning is displayed more formally in this stage. Throughout this whole process, students are expected to connect with outside resources, topic experts, and use Open Educational Resources online. The learners are able to engage with outside learning environments to gain valuable skills, knowledge, and experience, and then can represent their learning process in creative ways. When I asked Twitter for some examples of Open Educational Practices, one of the suggestions was a Gamified Classroom. Dean Vendramin does a great job of incorporating game-based learning in his classroom to increase engagement and life-long learning. Online tools and experiences, like this one, are a great way for students to show their learning processes and discoveries during this stage. Social media, blogs, podcasts, infographics, or digital storytelling tools are just a number of online options that enrich the learning experience.

Stage 4: Building Personal Learning Networks
How can we take our learning one step further? By allowing students to connect with others to build Personal Learning Networks, which expands their learning experiences beyond the classroom. This stage allows the students to share their voices with other students and outside sources. It brings the stages full circle, because it’s now building the relationships and trust outside of the classroom. They are able to reflect on their learning and use their voices and shared experiences for activism, connection, and empowerment. Kristen Wideen, an educator and author, went on a journey with her students called “Kids Can Create Change”. It allowed them to build Personal Learning Networks in order to promote “innovation, empowerment, risk taking, commitment, and skilled problem solving”. Through Twitter, they invited other classrooms to “identify a need in your school, community or in the world that you want to make better.” They created a global collaborative document on Book Creator app on how #kidscancreatechange so that other classrooms could share their experiences and ideas online. They wanted everyone to know that “even though they are young, they can create a huge impact.” This is an engaging yet simple way that students can develop empathy while empowering others around the globe.

OEP in the Primary Classroom
When I think of the type of learning that takes place in Open Educational Practices, I can recall some examples from my own experiences in my grade three classroom:

  • Skype Guess Who
    A game that connects classrooms in a fun and engaging way, similar to an experience like Mystery Skype, “an education game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype.
  • Twitter Challenges
    I have taken part in city-wide Twitter challenges, like the #yqreggdrop and #rbedropzone, which allowed students to use inquiry learning in order to connect and share experiences with other classrooms online.
  • Connecting with Experts
    With the internet, we have endless access to go beyond the four walls of our classroom. Instead of only reading information in textbooks, we are able to learn valuable information from the source themselves! My classroom connected with Barbara Reid, an author and clay illustrator, through Twitter. She responded to our learning process and gave us valuable information and feedback. She became a part of our journey, even though she wasn’t physically with us.

By accessing the Open Educational Resources of her website and Youtube videos, we created our own plasticine artwork based off of the type of illustrations she makes in her books. We completed the Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcome CP3.8: “Create art works using a variety of visual art concepts, forms and media and use “three-dimensional materials such as clay to create real textures.” When we completed our projects, we took pictures and displayed our learning on Twitter for others to see.

Even though I’ve taken part in Open Educational Practices in my primary classroom and have used pieces of the OEP stages, I have not yet completed the whole process of this type of learning. Sometimes it feels daunting to use OEP in an elementary classroom, and sometimes even impossible, but I believe that with dedication and an open mind, it is possible! I want to show you an example of how to apply it with your younger learners so that instead of it feeling intimidating, it feels motivating. By no means am I an expert with the concept, but it is something that I want to become more familiar with and encourage others to become familiar with as well.

Since I was close to hitting the target of OEP by connecting with the author and artist Barbara Reid, but didn’t quite use it to it’s full potential, I am going to show you how I would use this experience, or another art project experience, again using the stages of the Open Learning Design Intervention according to Dr. Verena.

Stage 1: Building Relationships

Before introducing the Visual Art Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcomes, set the stage for your students to understand that this learning experience is a process of sharing their voices and having their voices heard. Start with an informal, one-period, introduction lesson to build community in your class. Just as Barbara Reid tells stories through artwork, students should have the opportunity to share their own story before beginning their project.

  1. Display various art media for students to choose from, such as clay, pastels, water colours, paint, crayon, etc. Give them the choice of using the art medium that they connect with and enjoy using the most.
  2. They will create a visual representation with their art medium to tell a story about them, such as who they are or what they love to do, that they will later share with their classroom community.
  3. Once they have created their artwork, they will have a chance to share with their community. The class can gather in a circle and share their artwork and stories while they receive encouragement and support from one another.

Through this opportunity, students are able to listen to their community member’s stories, share their voices, build empathy and understanding, and create connections with one another.

Stage 2: Co-Designing Learning Pathways

In this stage, students will be introduced to the outcome, but instead of giving them all the same task, they will have choice in how they get there. They will have a chance to choose which artist they want to study and what type of art they want to model after. Not only does this apply to the original planned Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcome CP3.8, but it now applies to Saskatchewan Curriuclum Outcome CP3.7, which encourage students to “generate questions that arise from the investigation of a topic or area of interest to initiate inquiry” and “use guided Internet searches to investigate how artists use different art forms and media to express their ideas.”

  1. Create a virtual art gallery with an online tool like Book Creator app, or use a website like Bear Claw Gallery. Students will browse the artists and their style of art.
  2. As students are observing the art , they will decide which piece stands out to them or which artist they connect with the most.
  3. Once they have chosen the artist they want to study and the art they want to learn how to make, they will start asking questions.
  4. In the past, I have created “Wonder Walls” for students to pose questions, but in this project, I would use an online tool like Padlet to create questions on an online board so that teachers and other learners can be a part of the inquiry process. They will create questions they want to ask the artist and questions about the specific type of art the artist creates.

Stage 3: Building and Sharing Knowledge

Once students have their questions created, they will start building their knowledge in more explorative ways.

  1. Connect with artists (experts) online through Twitter, Skype, Blogging, or email. Skype in the Classroom is a great way for kids to meet the artists they are learning about, especially since there is a whole program dedicated to Guest Speakers. Since this is an art project, they will also use sources like YouTube to figure out how to create the specific style of art they are learning about. If the artist is not living anymore, they can reach out to other artists who use the same type of style or medium to teach the student about the process.

2. Primary students need more guidance when it comes to asking questions and finding answers, so using Guided Inquiry is a beneficial way to support younger learners. Read Write Think has a helpful Inquiry Chart template that “enables students to gather information about a topic from several sources.” Ross Todd and Lyn Hay also developed a Guided Inquiry Template that gives guidance to the learning outcomes and questions. You can also create an online guided inquiry template, like a journal, for your students through Google Docs or Seesaw.

3. After the questions have been researched and explored, it’s time for students to display their learning. Like I said earlier, students can use things like  Social mediablogspodcastsinfographics, or digital storytelling tools to display their learning. Instead of using closed platforms like Seesaw, try to use something that can go further than the classroom.

Stage 4: Building Personal Learning Networks

Now is the time to extend the learning beyond the classroom. Students will use their inquiry process and the knowledge that they built to teach students around the globe through the internet. They are now to take on the role of the teacher so that other students can learn from them in their own classroom.

  1. Use the tools of Time Lapse or Stop Motion to share their projects and to make artwork tutorial videos. Lori Thibault does a good job of using the feature of Fast Forward to share her learning and teach others about Unicorn Art. Once students create their tutorial video, they can share it on Youtube for other classrooms to watch and learn from.
  2. Students can also step foot into other classrooms virtually with a tool like Skype or Zoom. They can be the teachers in real-time and give a step-by-step art lesson. This connection now builds Personal Learning Networks for the students to take part in.

The WHY…

This is just one example of how to use the stages of Open Educational Practices in your primary classroom, but there is always deeper learning that can be done. As I become more familiar with this concept, there are still questions that linger…

  • How do we go even deeper when building Personal Learning Networks amongst classrooms? Are there enough classrooms committed to this type of learning in order to have an online community for our students?
  • How can we facilitate a learning environment for our students where they are encouraged to think critically and responsibly?
  • Are there enough resources for primary students to be able to take part in OEP in a rich and meaningful way? What happens if we don’t have all of the resources or don’t have the connections to all of the experts in our learning?

These are some questions that I have thought of throughout my time of using Open Educational Practices in my classroom. There are always challenges that arise, and there will always be obstacles that come up. However, do the benefits of this type of learning outweigh the negatives? Absolutely. When you use Open Educational Practices in your classroom, “you are inviting your students to be part of the teaching process, participating in the co-creation of knowledge.” Using OEP in your classroom deepens the learning experience, the community, and the connection. Students deserve the opportunity to create networks and build knowledge that extends past the classroom, because when they take part in this OEP process, they are actually creating a beautiful symphony!

OERs Are Amazing, But Require Funding

“Books HD” flickr photo by Abee5 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The first time I learned about Open Education Resources was years ago when I was attending the WASSA Conference (Western Association of Summer Session Administrators).  I was surprised that free textbooks existed and I wondered why everyone wasn’t using them!  To me, it was the next best thing since sliced bread.  I couldn’t wait to share the knowledge when I got back from the conference.  I then found out that OERs are not a new concept, but they aren’t widely used.

According to Wikipedia, OERs have been around since the late 1990s and they originated from developments in distance and online learning.  I used to think that OERs referred to just textbooks, but I now realize that textbooks are just a small subset of OERs. According to BCcampus’s Open Ed, “there are many types of OER available, such as:

  • Online courses
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Presentation slides
  • Syllabi
  • Course outlines
  • Supplementary materials, such as quizzes and assignments”

Knowing how long OERs have been around, I was surprised that they aren’t more popular in post-secondary education.  I slowly started to realize that some faculty members and instructors don’t support OERs for a couple of different reasons and without instructor support, they won’t be used.  I attended a presentation about OERs and faculty members brought up concerns they have about them.  Faculty members normally publish their research and then their research would be peer-reviewed.  They felt this wouldn’t be possible with OERs.  The faculty members stated that the quality of the work would decrease because it wasn’t being peer-reviewed and they wouldn’t be recognized for the work that they had done.  I am not a faculty member, so I am unsure how accurate this view is.  To me, it seems that research could be published to an open source, rather than a closed journal and still be peer-reviewed.  I do not know the process well enough to know if this is true though.

There are lots of advantages to using OERs and some disadvantages.  Below is a list according to OERs Wikipedia site:

Advantages of using OER include:

  • Expanded access to learning – can be accessed anywhere at anytime
  • Ability to modify course materials – can be narrowed down to topics that are relevant to course
  • Enhancement of course material – texts, images and videos can be used to support different learning styles
  • Rapid dissemination of information – textbooks can be put forword quicker online than publishing a textbook
  • Cost saving for students – all readings are available online, which saves students hundreds of dollars[38]

Disadvantages of using OER include:

  • Quality/reliability concerns – some online material can be edited by anyone at anytime, which results in irrelevant or inaccurate information
  • Limitation of copyright property protection – OER licenses change “All rights reserved.” into “Some rights reserved.”[39], so that content creators must be careful about what materials they make available
  • Technology issues – some students may have difficulty accessing online resources because of slow internet connection, or may not have access to the software required to use the materials[40]

I have found that while working with instructors creating online classes, they are fairly open to the idea of using OERs.  When talking to instructors about using OERs the most common concern is that there are no OER textbooks available that would work for their content.  This is sometimes true, but other times the instructor doesn’t know where to look.

When the instructors don’t know where to find OER’s, there are a couple of key sites that are great resources: Merlot, OER Commons and SOL*R.

Merlot – “The MERLOT system provides access to curated online learning and support materials and content creation tools, led by an international community of educators, learners and researchers.”

OER Commons – “OER Commons is a public digital library of open educational resources. Explore, create, and collaborate with educators around the world to improve curriculum.”

SOL*R – “a repository service provided by BCcampus that allows educators to access FREE online learning resources. It facilitates sharing, discovery, reuse, and remixing of a growing collection of content created by BC post-secondary educators.

SOL*R includes learning resources from a wide variety of disciplines and subject areas. Resources range from open textbooks, individual learning activities and tools, all the way to full programs.”

When the instructor can’t find an OER textbook that is appropriate for their class, they can adapt and modify an existing one.  I have found the biggest resistance to this is finding the time and resources to modify an existing OER textbook.  An instructor has to be very motivated to use OERs for that to happen.  Also, if an instructor finds a textbook they like through a publisher, there are lots of other resources that come with that textbook.  Such as question banks, learning activities, quizzes, presentations.  There is some funding available in Saskatchewan to encourage adapting and modifying OERs, but it isn’t a large amount.


A place that is doing a great job with creating OERs is BCcampus.  In 2012 they received funding from the government to develop 40 open textbooks, which would cover the most common courses for first and second year university students.  In 2014 they received additional funding to create 20 open textbooks for the trades and skills sector.  In April of 2019, they received $3.26M towards Open Education in BC.  According to an article posted on the BCcampus website, $3.26M pledged to OER to enable student savings throughout the province, they plan to put that money towards many things that will vastly improve OERs available to all post-secondary students in Canada.  Here is what they plan to put the money towards:


“With the $3 million+ investment, we will work with stakeholders, advisory groups, and industry professionals to:

  1. Create/adapt/adopt an open homework software system (or systems) to replace commercially published systems.
  2. Develop an entire suite of freely available resources, including textbooks, test banks, homework assignments and ancillary tools to replace costly commercial products in the following program areas:
    • STEM
    • Business
    • Health
    • ECE
    • Trades
  3. Build capacity in the institutions to assist instructors in the use/integration and development of OER and Open Pedagogy.
  4. Create collaborative relationships with smaller institutions in the northern and interior regions of B.C., establishing an open education network/infrastructure while building capacity for open education: hiring two regional representatives for these underserved areas.
  5. Create a more robust searchability infrastructure so educators can find appropriate curriculum for their courses through an easy-to-use search tool.
  6. Conduct research on and with administrators to measure and evaluate the return on investment of open education.”

This is a very exciting development for OERs in post-secondary education.  The more OERs that are available, the more they will be adopted and adapted.  Since the time and resources that instructors need to put into adopting an OER can be a deterrent, I am hoping this new funding will help ease that.  Saskatchewan currently does provide some funding for OERs, but hopefully, in the future, the funding will increase.  Then there will be more OERs created and their use will become more widespread.  Post-secondary education is expensive and stressful and eliminating the stress of buying expensive textbooks that sometimes aren’t used, would be amazing.