Open at Scale: Creating affordable student resources in targeted subject areas

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01.05.2019 - 3 min. Read

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The Open at Scale approach originated through conversations with passionate practitioners and leaders who saw an opportunity to pursue open education at a systemic level. Each project is a targeted, collaborative approach to OER development in a single in-demand subject. To achieve this, eCampusOntario’s program managers support member institutions to identify areas of need, leverage existing open educational resources (OER) and build out the rest as new OER.

Brandon Carson, Open at Scale – Business OER Program Manager, believes that creating affordable, accessible course material is key to business student success.

“Ontario students pay up to $1,141.82 for course material costs in a first-year college business program,” says Brandon. “It’s more important than ever to support these students with affordable, high-quality open resources. Over the next 2 years, the Open at Scale Business OER project plans to save Ontario students 3 million dollars, while giving faculty and students from multiple institutions the opportunity to collaborate on the creation and review of OER.”

Recently, the Business at Scale team met with business deans from each college in Ontario to determine which courses would benefit most from OER use and development. “Deans of business are on board to work with faculty and support them,” notes Brandon. “Their support really helps.”

The courses identified by the deans for OER development:

  • Business Fundamentals
  • Business Mathematics
  • Business Communication
  • Introduction to Marketing
  • Introduction to Human Resources
  • Introduction to Accounting
  • Introduction to Business Computing
  • Organizational Behaviour
  • Introduction to Economics

After the OER need was assessed, the Open at Scale team facilitated a meeting to review existing business OERs with faculty members, instructional designers, and experts with backgrounds in accessibility. According to Brandon, these subject matter and instruction experts “helped us to assess whether the material met classroom standards and how it could be improved. That’s going to help the project teams as they go ahead and adapt these OERs.”

Two open textbooks for college business programs, Business Fundamentals: a Canadian Edition and Communication for Business Professionals: Canadian Edition, were already built out this year. The Open at Scale teams will create ancillary resources, such as slide decks and test banks, to accompany them, which will save educators time.

“If you’re just producing a book,” says Brandon, “a faculty member still has to put effort into creating their assessments and teaching resources, which can take up a lot of time.” Ancillary resources for the existing open textbooks are expected to be ready for faculty use by August 2019.

For the remaining seven subjects, Business at Scale project teams will create engaging and high-quality OERs that can be used across institutions and freely adopted or adapted. The goal is to ensure a high level of interactivity in these resources.

“It was great having the faculty members in the room, hearing different perspectives about what needed to be included to meet the needs of all learners,” Brandon notes. “Interactive elements in particular can test learners’ knowledge as they’re going through the material. It’s also important that these resources have a consistent flow, so from a user experience standpoint, students will know how to use these resources. We’re making sure the language and features we use meet the needs of all learners.”

Interested in learning more about the Open at Scale for Business OER initiative? Check out https://business.openatscale.ca/