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Thursday, November 20 • 1:15pm - 1:45pm
How not to promote open sharing of educational materials at a university

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In February, 2014, the University of British Columbia passed Policy 81, requiring the open sharing of many teaching and learning resources with the university and other UBC faculty, unless one opts out. Upon a first read Policy 81 appears to be a small step forward in the promotion of open educational resources; what has happened, however, has been a significant step backwards. In this session I will discuss the policy and its aftermath as a story of: (a) how not to approach promoting OER at an institutional level, (b) what the reaction of many faculty members to Policy 81 says about the attitudes of at least some higher education faculty members about open sharing of educational materials, and (c) what might be better methods of promoting the creation of OER at a North American university such as UBC.

Policy 81 states that if UBC instructors make their teaching materials available for use by others, "UBC may, through its Faculties, Departments and individual Instructors, use, revise, and allow other UBC Instructors to use and revise the Teaching Materials to facilitate ongoing offerings of Credit Courses' unless the instructor restricts the use of these materials." (http://universitycounsel.ubc.ca/files/2014/02/policy81.pdf) Ostensibly, the purpose of this policy is, in part, to allow for the revision and reuse of educational materials in a streamlined fashion, such as those shared directly between persons, deposited in university department collections, or used by instructors in a course with a curriculum and materials created in the past by others. Faculty members can choose to opt out of sharing their teaching materials by putting a notice on each item they wish to restrict, or by registering entire courses on a central university registry saying that none of the materials for those courses may be revised or reused by anyone else at the university for for-credit courses.

The main problems with this policy are that the university designated it as an "opt out" rather than "opt in" system, and that it covers materials not automatically assumed to be shared for the purpose of reuse and revision, such as those placed on public course websites.

Anecdotal evidence shows a significant amount of anger about this policy, and many have reacted by asserting on their teaching materials that they may not be reused and revised by others - the very opposite of promoting more open sharing. During the summer of 2014 I will be doing a survey of UBC teaching staff to get a better sense of faculty reactions to the policy and the arguments people have for not wanting their educational materials to be used by others at the university (as well as whether they would be open to sharing them beyond the university, and if not, why not). Through this, and a workshop I am doing on open education at UBC in June 2014, I will try to determine some of the main obstacles to my colleagues openly sharing educational resources, and suggest a more fruitful approach to encouraging them to do so.

avatar for Christina Hendricks

Christina Hendricks

Professor of Teaching in Philosophy, Academic Director, Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Philosophy, OER, open textbooks, open pedagogy, accessibility

Thursday November 20, 2014 1:15pm - 1:45pm EST

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