Upcoming Event: Open Textbooks in the Classroom
Textbooks can be an expensive addition to a university course. Open textbooks, which are usually free to access and modify, can help lower the cost and make education more available to people all over the world, and many organizations have devoted considerable time and money to the cause. But post-secondary institutions have been slower to adopt Open Educational Resources (OERs) into the curriculum. David Wiley would like to change that.
Wiley, a Shuttleworth Fellow once named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company, is coming to TRU to speak about Open Educational Resources (OERs) on May 24, 2013. Wiley is a professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University in Utah, currently on leave and working to improve the adoption of OERs at all levels of education.
His says his interest in freely accessible learning materials came early, and was informed by growing up in a rural area of West Virginia.
“I very clearly remember the day when I had the realization that if you take a resource, like a book or a calculator, out of the classroom and put it online, a million people can all use it at the same time,” Wiley says. “That means if you can figure out how to fund the development of a really nice calculator, no one will have to pay for it again. I was struck very deeply by this ethical imperative.”
In 2013, Wiley co-founded Lumen Learning specifically to help schools integrate OERs into the curriculum. “There are plenty of OERs available, and plenty of people advocating for OERs. What we need is someone to help schools through the adoption process,” Wiley says.
Recently, Lumen Learning and Tidewater Community College worked together to develop an associate degree in business administration that follows the Textbook Zero model – it can be completed entirely using open resources. He hopes this example, the first of its kind, will help push OERs from theory to practice.
“This is an accredited school offering a two-year associate degree for which you’ll never have to buy a textbook,” Wiley says. “Schools are not institutions that like to take risks, so it can be hard to get someone to be first. With the examples we have and the kind of focused effort being put on this now, I think OERs are at the tipping point.”
For more on Wiley’s perspective on OERs, watch his TEDxNYED talk.
Date: May 24, 2013
Time: 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Place: Campus Activity Centre Boardroom
As space is limited, please RSVP to Brian Lamb.
May 22, 2013
Complete Our Survey to Win!
In the past, Open Learning conducted a student survey and used the results to create a Student Infographic, which detailed where, when and why they study. Now we'd like the update that infographic and have created a new survey. If you are an Open Learning student or alumni, we want to hear from you!
Your answers will be confidential. In return for your time, we'll enter your name in a draw for one of two $50 gift cards to the TRU bookstore, which can be used in store or online.
The last day to complete the survey and be entered in the draw is June 2, 2013.
May 8, 2013
Do it Your Way: Enter to Win
Thank you to everyone who entered our contest! It has now concluded.
For many distance learners, school is not their primary pursuit: they have jobs, children, and other responsibilities to balance alongside their coursework. So when promoting Open Learning to students, it’s important to demonstrate that education can fit into an already full life.
The “Your Way” campaign, which launched September 2012, emphasizes that many Open Learning students make time for their textbooks in some creative and unusual ways. To create the campaign, students were asked to complete an informal survey. The data collected was used to create an infographic and a series of posters that reflect where Open Learning students study.
Information from real students was key to this campaign, and now students can get more directly involved by submitting their own unique headline that reflects their experience as distance learners, and enter to win a $100 gift card.
Here’s how it works: to enter, students or alumni just complete the sentence, “I do it…” and explain where, when or how they study. These submissions will be used to create posters that people can vote on within the TRU-OL Facebook page.
The entry deadline is March 25, 2013.
March 8, 2013
Tuition Tax Receipts
T2202A tax receipts, which are used for claiming education expenses on your income tax return, will be available during the last week of February. These receipts are available to download from your myTRU account. Receipts will not be mailed to your home address.
Please review your T2202A as soon as possible, before you plan to complete your income tax return, so that any discrepancies can be resolved before the filing deadline. The forms will be available to view at the end of February.
If the amount on your T2202A is not what you were expecting, there are a few possible explanations:
- One or more of the courses you took aren’t eligible. To receive a tax receipt, the course must be equal to a certain number of credits or hours. In addition, not all tuition and related fees are tax deductible.
- Your course or program is not at the post-secondary level. T2202A receipts are only issued for post-secondary courses. For example, receipts are not issued for Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses.
- One or more courses may be prorated. Tuition fees for courses spanning one calendar year to the next are prorated to each applicable year. For example, a course with a four-month completion time starting in November is recorded 50% on the tax receipt for the year when the course started and 50% on the receipt for the following year.
- You may have a duplicate student account. If the points above don’t apply to your situation and your tuition tax form still doesn’t reflect the amount of tuition and fees you paid, contact TRU. If you are a TRU on-campus student, email email@example.com. If you are a TRU-OL student, firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 25, 2013
A Changed Model
A new textbook offers a novel approach to teaching medical terminology
Open Learning Faculty Member Melodie Hull has authored a new textbook, Medical Language: Terminology in Context, that may completely change the current, traditional pedagogical approach to teaching medical terminology.
For decades, the focus of medical terminology has been on building vocabulary: memorizing words and word parts and learning about anatomy and physiology. Hull believes the goal of learning this subject is bigger than that. Communication and language fluency are the goals.
Hull has a professional background in both the health profession and language instruction. She takes a lexical language-learning approach: learning words within the context of health care and then within that context, learning about anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology. Language acquisition becomes the priority, not simply vocabulary-building.
The textbook provides an ongoing storyline that follows five characters through an emergency situation to acute care and into rehabilitation, recovery and restoration of health. The characters each face significant health challenges and the book teaches the language necessary to understand each specific situation. The book has met with positive feedback from reviewers, who have described it as innovative, user-friendly and engaging.
For more information about Hull and her textbook, see the Spring issue of the Open Standard, available in March 2013.
February 21, 2013
A Day of Learning
TRU hosts an event to explore how technology can be incorporated into higher education
If you follow much higher ed commentary, you may have heard that education is being turned on its head. Fewer students are enrolling in university straight out of high school. Many expect a more direct path from school to career. There is growing doubt that the lecture format is the best way to give information to a younger, tech-savvy generation. Then there are these little things called MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, which, if you believe the hype, will make university campuses redundant and allow everyone to take courses for free using a smartphone.
But not everyone agrees that technology advancements means education has to be radically overhauled, or that most students even want drastic change. And, while enrolments in traditional university programs are slightly down in North America, online course enrolments are up.
Brian Lamb, the Director of Innovation with Open Learning, along with the Centre for Teaching and Learning, organized a workshop this past December to look at how TRU can introduce changes to learning environments.
“There is an argument to be made that technology has not fundamentally changed us. But if the emergence of digital media is indeed a major transformation in the way we gather, process and share knowledge, then we have to ask what we are doing as educators to help prepare students for that world,” Lamb says.
The workshop covered a range of topics from the participants’ dream university, to fundamental questions of how to structure a technology strategy to best support learning. The day included a session with a question and answer panel, composed of one Open Learning student and two students who take courses on campus. The diversity of views expressed made it clear that there are no quick fixes or universal approaches that will meet all needs. It also brought home the need to keep students in the conversation as educational change continues.
Some of those changes may include moving courses outside of speciality learning management systems such as Blackboard or Moodle to web-based platforms, like weblogs or wikis, “where discussion is not centralized, and the experience becomes part of the learning,” Lamb says. “Constructing and navigating these environments can themselves serve as a critical investigation of how digital media shapes how we learn and how we live.”
What do you think – do traditional education models need an overhaul, or is the technological revolution overblown? Tweet us at @TRUOpenLearning.
January 18, 2013
Stay Local, Study Global
Virtual International student exchange starts January 2012
Would you like to get a taste of the study abroad experience without leaving home? Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning has once again partnered with the Virtual University of Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico to offer a virtual international student exchange. NI 2001: International Negotiations is an online, paced course, starting January 14, 2013 and ending May 2013.
By completing an online course alongside their peers in Mexico, business students have the opportunity to both learn more about business and gain real-life experience collaborating with students in another country and culture. The course will explore how culture impacts negotiating styles and strategies, and will teach students how to conduct basic business negotiation research and develop the skills to negotiate business contracts across cultures. This course is also eligible for the global competency credential.
You may register for this course by email or phone:
- email email@example.com
- phone 250.852.6839 or 1.800.663.9711 (ext. 6839).
Please note: students should check with their program advisor before registering to ensure the course fits their program. Approval from program advisors is highly recommended for all program students.
November 23, 2012
Open Textbook Workshop at TRU
Thompson Rivers University and BCcampus are co-hosting a workshop on open textbooks this November 27, 2012.
Open textbooks aren’t new to higher education, but they became big news this October when the BC Government announced that it will provide funding for free, online textbooks for the 40 most popular university courses in the province. It is the first official initiative in Canada, and BCcampus will coordinate the project with input from faculty, publishers and post-secondary institutions across the province.
Brian Lamb, TRU’s Director of Innovation, says open textbooks are a key element to reducing financial and access barriers to education. Besides the monetary benefits – provincial estimates peg the cost of textbooks between $900 and $1,500 each year – offering open resources can improve student grades and retention.
"If a student relies on loans for funding and they don’t receive their cheque at the beginning of the semester, they may not buy the text they need and will start the course without a critical resource," Lamb says. "By mid-semester, they may be too far behind to catch up. It seems like a small thing, but it can be a significant factor in student success."
The workshop will look at issues in creating and delivering open resources, such as accessibility, licensing processes and advocacy, as well as the best way to find and select existing open textbooks.
"There are four or five open textbooks initiatives already in development that are in various stages of maturity," Lamb says. "So, do we take a first-year chemistry course from the just-announced California Digital Open Source Library, for example, and customize it? If we do that, it may allow us to develop resources that address our own local contexts, such as a First Nations Studies textbook. There are a lot of opportunities to explore here."
The one-day workshop is open to everyone. See BCcampus.com for more information.
WHEN: November 27, 2012
WHERE: TRU Student Union Building OR attend virtually via Blackboard Collaborate
TIME: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
HOW: Register online through BCcampus by November 21, 2012
For more information on open textbooks:
November 15, 2012
NOTE TO MAC USERS: Apple has released a software update that will affect people who access Blackboard from a Mac computer. The update affects certain Blackboard functions, such as attaching files to email messages. If you use a Mac, please read the message from IT Services about the update as well as the instructions on a new method for creating email attachments.
October 19, 2012
Building Better Research Skills
In the digital age, a person looking for information can find more material than they could ever read with the click of a mouse. The problem is not obtaining information: it's knowing what to do with it.
With so much available, the ability to explain the research process, evaluate results and speak using the appropriate terms is more important than ever, and can be a critical part of your education and invaluable to your career. This September, Open Learning is launching a new course that examines multiple aspects of the research process.
RSMT 3501: Introduction to Research Methods is an online, paced course that is suitable for students of all disciplines. Learners will work through the subject matter as a group and participate in the class forum with other students and the Open Learning Faculty Member. Participants may take the theories introduced in the course and apply it to their own field of interest in the course's papers and projects.
The course runs from September 17, 2012 through December 21, 2012. There are no mandatory prerequisites, though there are recommendations. To read more, view the detailed course description.
The registration deadline is September 10, so be sure to enrol soon.
August 28, 2012
Starting Soon: Health Care Assistant Program
Looking for a career change? The TRU-OL Health Care Assistant Certificate program is designed to be completed on a part-time basis and offers students an entry into the growing field of continuing care. Health Care Assistants work in residential care and assisted living facilities, as well as private homes.
The program is delivered in a paced, cohort model, which means students start and complete courses as a group, and each course has a set start and end date. This program is designed for students who intend to complete one to three courses at a time. There are seven theory courses that can be started now; a lab and practicum are in development.
Anyone who is interested in a career in health care or the HCA certificate may take the first two courses (HLTH 1051 and HLTH 1001) without being formally admitted to the program.
The first course begins September 10, 2012 and the registration deadline is September 6, 2012. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Read more about the Health Care Assistant Certificate.
August 27, 2012
Advisory: Course Cessation
TRU-OL would like to inform students that one of its courses will soon be closed for registration indefinitely.
PSYC 3121: Obesity and Eating Disorders will be closed for registration as of September 1, 2012. If you had planned to take this course, be sure to register by August 31, 2012 to avoid disappointment.
To view other psychology courses available through TRU-OL, visit our Courses page.
August 27, 2012
Watch Convocation Live
Off campus? No problem. All TRU convocation ceremonies will be broadcast live and available online, so students, family and guests who can't make it to campus can still watch the event. This year, ceremonies will be held on Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15.
For a specific list of the dates and times of each ceremony, visit the Convocation webpage.
Broadcasts normally begin five to 10 minutes before the event starts, and recordings are available after each ceremony. Visit http://www.livestream.com/livetru at the scheduled time to view.
DID YOU KNOW?
You must apply to graduate and participate in Convocation. The deadline for the October 2012 convocation ceremony is July 31, 2012.
June 6, 2012
TRU-OL Gets Animated
Higher education is typically a serious business. So you may wonder why Open Learning’s new recruitment video features animated characters.
Describing all the advantages of Open Learning in a single video is a challenge. Through distance education, TRU-OL can offer many additional options to the programs available on the TRU campus, such as credit for prior work experience, as well as flexible start and completion dates. As a result, the student demographic at Open Learning varies widely: from full-time students recently graduated from high school, to part-time students returning to school, to full-time employees upgrading their career one course at a time.
We wanted our video to be as non-traditional as our flexible learning options and the students who take advantage of them. We hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment and share on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and our blog.
View the video at truopen.ca/openness.
February 12, 2012
New Grading Scale for Graduate Programs
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is instituting a new grading scale that will affect graduate courses and programs delivered by TRU-OL. This will affect courses and programs that begin in Winter 2012 and beyond.
- Graduate courses. By the new graduate grading scale, the minimum passing mark in a course is 70%, or a B-. This grading scale will apply to all courses that begin in Winter 2012 and beyond. Fall 2011 courses that are currently underway will use the existing undergraduate grading scale.
- Graduate programs. Students enrolled in a graduate level program must maintain an overall B average in their programs. Further, graduate students may only get one B- grade. Graduate students getting a second B- or lower course grade will be required to repeat the course for a grade of B or better or withdraw from the program, unless the program has compelling reasons for recommending to the AVP, Research and Graduate Studies otherwise. These program-related provisions do not apply to current graduate students, as all students are bound by the program requirements that were in place when they started their program. This requirement will apply to all students starting their graduate program in Winter 2012 and beyond.
NOTE: Graduate programs are free to set standards that are higher than these minimums; please review your program description.
For a full description of the coming changes, please see TRU Policy ED 3-5.
November 8, 2011