Open, opener, openest: A superlative project in every sense

Black books and a white iPad stacked on a wooden desk.
01.05.2019 - 3 min. Read

Photo: Rawpixel via Pixabay

By Bianca Parisi

MLIS, Library and Learning Commons Technology Coordinator at Niagara College

In this Ranger Report, Bianca Parisi, a technology coordinator at Niagara College and eCampusOntario Open Ranger, shares how she helped a faculty member adapt an open textbook to meet the needs of her students.

“One of our dynamic Niagara College faculty members, Wendy Ward, was inspired to explore OER after attending a Teaching and Learning event hosted by Brock University in December 2017. The event focused on open educational resources (OER) and featured eCampusOntario’s CEO, David Porter, as a keynote speaker.

Throughout the following winter term, Wendy decided to make some of the ideas presented tangible, and she approached us for technical support. Using the eCampusOntario Open Library, Wendy sought a learning resource that would accommodate students at all technology levels, provide high-quality information, and save students money in the Communications course she teaches. While she found an open textbook from Olds College in Alberta a great starting point, Wendy and our team took the text adoption process one step further. We used the Pressbooks EDU platform, which eCampusOntario offers for free to Ontario institutions.

Figure 1: The adapted digital book created by Bianca and team

Over the next few months, Kent Reynolds, who is a maps, media and interlibrary loan officer, and I worked with Wendy to turn the open text into a Pressbooks resource, targeting the specific outcomes of Niagara College’s Communications course.

Recent enhancements to Pressbooks allowed us to add navigation, interactive elements and check-ins—such as quizzes and drag-and-drop activities—to engage learners.

Being able to customize the open content allowed us to chart a logical progression through the course material and means that, in the future, Wendy can edit or add to the content for clarification. The original question-and-answer format in the Olds College version was transformed into a “point of need” practice, where students can retest until they’ve mastered the material and receive customized feedback.

While the cost savings for students were a definite bonus for this project, creating content specifically designed for the course—both the material and the pace at which the material is covered—was of equal benefit. Instead of adapting the course to suit an existing textbook, we developed a resource that better aligned with Wendy’s teaching style and her learners.”

If you are employed by a member of an Ontario public post-secondary institution and are interested in becoming an Open Ranger like Bianca, send a message to open@ecampusontario.ca.