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13.03.2019 - 6 min. Read

Meet the new Open Education Fellows (2019)

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

Building on the success of the first cohort of Open Education Fellows, eCampusOntario proudly announces the names of the five OE Fellows for 2019: Tricia Bonner (Loyalist), Xinli Wang (Toronto/Seneca), Marnie Seal (Cambrian), Krista McCracken (Algoma), and Bill Ju (Toronto). Each Fellow brings their own specialties for promoting open education within the Ontario post-secondary community. Find out what they hope to accomplish during their fellowship this year.

Tricia Bonner, Loyalist College

Tricia joins the Fellows from Loyalist College in Belleville, where she works as a Learning Technologies Facilitator. In 2017 she joined the Open Rangers program and now hopes to build on that advocacy.

“I think it’s beyond textbooks,” she says of open education. “My interest lies in the engagement that it can bring students. My role is faculty support and we’re always talking about – whether you’re in the classroom or online – how are we making this information available to students?”

Tricia sees the OE Fellowship as having broader benefits, as she sits on the Educational Technology Committee, comprised of representatives from every college in Ontario. “We have created a sub-committee to talk about open education,” she says. “I’m hoping my fellowship will support that, and that they will support each other.”

This year, Tricia’s fellowship project is to undertake a literature review focusing on student perception of open education, which will also shape the way faculty is engaged in implementation. Eventually, she hopes to involve the college’s student government in the creation and promotion of open resources.

William (Bill) Ju, University of Toronto

Bill is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, where he teaches neuroscience and health/disease. His interest in open education grew out of listening to student concerns.

“The one aspect my pedagogy has been moving towards has been educational equity,” he says. “There are some inherent problems with what we ask our students to do and open education takes care of a lot of those problems, whether that’s completing course work or accessing information behind a paywall.”

After joining the Open Rangers program and attending the Open Education Ontario Summit in 2018, Bill was inspired to take his advocacy even further by applying to the OE Fellowship program. “It was really interesting to share the discussion and hear the collaboration, the mentorship and the support,” he says of the summit.

“Now I want to find and curate some of these different open resources that will allow students to develop their own material. I intend to bring my students over to the eCampusOntario office and give them an idea of what open is and how important it is. I want them to be immersed in it. Students want to be engaged in their own learning. If they’re not, there’s no point.”

Krista McCracken, Algoma University

Krista is an archives supervisor at Algoma, overseeing operations of the Arthur A. Wishart Library and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre – both part of the campus – where a key part of their role is making public history information openly accessible. Krista says, “A lot of my work is community-engaged, so it only makes sense to make that kind of information accessible to the community.”

Krista watched the work of eCampusOntario’s first fellows closely before deciding to apply. “There’s so much awesome work coming out of there,” they say. “ Seeing the collaboration and conversations about it online, that’s been inspiring.”

During the fellowship, Krista hopes to inspire Algoma to embrace open education more broadly, as well as continue some more targeted projects. “My specific project is looking at Indigenous voices,” they say.

Marnie Seal, Cambrian College

Marnie works as a librarian at Cambrian College in Sudbury, a role where she sees the impact of textbook costs and limited course materials on students daily.

“I think librarians are a natural fit for this,” she says of open education advocacy. “I think we share a lot of frustrations, like watching students pay too much for textbooks or struggle to check out a limited number of resources.”

Marnie also sees an increase in educators inquiring about open resources, which inspired her to collaborate with colleagues at Cambrian’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Hub to introduce faculty to open practices by holding an “Open Day” in May 2018. During her fellowship, she hopes to streamline the adoption and adaption processes for educators.

“My project proposal involves building a curation workflow to help librarians who are new to this activity to help them navigate a curation request. As a small institution, we’ve found it challenging to follow up with faculty and close that loop.”

Embracing open education on a small campus is a central part of Marnie’s philosophy too. “What I see happening in other schools is that they do quite a bit of work, but they have small armies to do that work,” she says. “I want to prove that even as a small institution we can have an impact.”

Xinli Wang, University of Toronto, Mississauga and Seneca College

Xinli teaches math and business, dividing her time between the University of Toronto campus and Seneca College. After taking Making Sense of Open Education, an online course taught by former eCampusOntario Program Manager, Jenni Hayman. Xinli was intrigued, especially after finding a lack of interactive math teaching resources.

“I teach an entry-level course in linear algebra and all of this can be quite abstract for students,” she says. “I wanted to find some concrete applications in computer science, which many of my students will eventually study. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find suitable examples to bring back to my classroom, so I wondered if there was any other way to engage my students.”

As a compromise, Xinli began giving her students time to experiment with GeoGebra, an interactive software app designed for teaching and learning subjects like geometry, algebra and statistics.

For this year’s fellowship work, Xinli hopes to adapt the current course textbook, which is offered in PDF format. “My plan is to transform this textbook so it has active learning components, like GeoGebra,” she says. “We have thousands of students taking this course every semester and it’s great that they have this textbook but it would be nicer if there were supplementary resources.”


To read more about the Fellows, click this link.