Using an Open Textbook and a Learning Management System in Trades Courses: A (Possible) Case Study
After discussing these concerns with some of her teaching colleagues, Moira feels encouraged to make some significant revisions to her face-to-face course. However, she does not have a lot of time to spare on these revisions; not only will she teach this course again in 3 months but Moira is currently teaching another course and will not have release time to complete her course revisions.
Moira’s goal now is to shift the theory part of her course into a blended delivery format; she will deliver part of the course online and part of it in the classroom. She plans to use her college’s LMS to post readings, her own lecture notes, and videos of practical demonstrations. She believes this will give her students more flexibility in when and where they can review course materials. Moira also hopes that this shift will leave more time in-class for discussions about challenging concepts and preparation for the hands-on time in the shop.
In addition, Moira intends to move all of her self-assessment quizzes into the LMS. Her students will still need to achieve at least 70% to pass the quizzes, but she understands that in the LMS, she can set up the quizzes so students can have more than one attempt to achieve that grade. And she has learned that it’s possible to set these quizzes up so students can receive feedback on their answers as soon as they submit – feedback that could include references back to specific content and readings students should review and can also find in the context of the course site.
Moira has given a lot of thought to the course pack she has been using, especially since hearing from students about the barriers it presents to some of them. Since she will now be using the LMS to support her course, Moira hopes to be able to provide all the instructional materials for the course – including all of the course readings – in a digital format and give her students more flexibility in how they access their content. In her earlier discussions with colleagues about where to begin looking for digital readings and images that she could post to an LMS site, Moira was excited to learn about OERs and the B.C. Open Textbook collection of free textbooks and she began to explore the available titles in the collection. Not only did she discover the collection includes many textbooks geared towards Trades subjects, but she was pleased that she could adopt as much or as little of a textbook as she needed without any concerns about copyright infringement or financial cost to her students.
While Moira is excited to begin implementing her plans for course revisions, she is quickly realizing that she is going to need some help adopting an open textbook and setting up her course site in the LMS. She has created a list of questions and has begun to collect answers from some other Trades instructors with more blended-learning experience. In the process, she is also creating her own list of recommendations for other instructors who may be looking to try something similar.
Moira’s Questions and Planning Notes
|Moira’s Questions||Moira’s Planning Notes & Recommendations for Colleagues|
|#1||Where do I find help at my institution for moving my course into a blended delivery format?||Colleagues at [my college] have recommended that I connect with an instructional designer for advice about moving from a face-to-face to a blended, partially-online format. At [my college], instructional design support is provided through our Teaching & Learning Centre.
Speaking of colleagues, I would like to ask a couple of colleagues who have prior experience with any of this process if it’s alright for me to ask for their advice and recommendations when I have questions along the way.
|#2||How much time will it take for me to convert my course into a blended format?
Do I have enough time to make the revisions I want to make?
|I know that 3 months of working “off the side of my desk” does not leave me with a lot of time to complete significant course revisions like this and I understand that I may not have enough time to do everything on my list.
I’m dividing my list of priorities into two categories: “must have” by the next time I teach this course and “nice to have” (but may have to wait until I can work on the course again). I will create a 3-month project implementation plan to complete my “must-have” items and will work on any remaining “nice to haves” in the time remaining or at a future date if I run out of time now.
“NICE TO HAVE”
|#3||What LMS does my institution use?
Where do I find help at my institution for learning how to use the LMS?
(Does this support include help around incorporating selected OERs into my LMS course site?)
|I started by talking to some of my colleagues who have experience teaching their courses in a blended format.
|#4||Where do I find help for adopting OERs?
(e.g. Open textbooks, open images, ancillary resources)
|These are a few “getting started”-type resources I’ve found helpful with the more specific questions I have about OERs:
|#5||Where do I actually find an Open Textbook and then how do I create a copy for my students?
Where can I find open images that I can be sure I am allowed to post online for my students?
|These are the resources I would recommend my colleagues use to work through the next steps in an open textbook adoption process:
I would definitely recommend that any colleagues who are searching for open-license images use this web service called Creative Commons Search:
|#6||How do I prepare my students for the online portion of my blended course?||I’ve spoken to an instructional designer and also some of my colleagues about things I can do to prepare my students for the online part of the course. Based on their recommendations, I am planning to:
|#7||Where do students get technical support at my institution for the online portion of my course?||Colleagues have told me to expect that some students will find it challenging at first to use the LMS, and that even those students who have a lot of confidence with technology may need technical assistance on occasion.
I have investigated at our college where students can get technical assistance when they are on campus, and I’ve also looked into what technical support they can get when they working in the LMS off-campus. At my college, most students on campus use the Helpdesk run by our IT Services. However, for specific assistance with the LMS, the Helpdesk often redirects students to the Teaching & Learning Centre – since they are the unit that supports the LMS.
Based on the recommendations I’ve collected from my colleagues and also from the instructional designer I’m working with, I am planning to:
|#8||Where do students with a learning disability get support (if they need it) at my institution?||In my discussions with colleagues and my instructional designer, I have learned there is a strong possibility that some students in my course may have some type of a learning disability.
I have learned that at my college, students who have a disability can connect with our “Disability Resource Centre” if they need some form of assistance or accommodation in support of their needs.
I have also learned that some students who have a learning disability are reluctant to tell their instructor due to fears of being stigmatized. I’m concerned that there might be students in my course who, due to some form of learning disability, experience challenges with the LMS or the Open Textbook and don’t tell me about this.
Based on what I have learned so far, I am planning to:
 Examples of popular LMSs currently in use at BC post-secondary institutions include: D2L, Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard.