Using an Open Textbook and a Learning Management System in Trades Courses: A (Possible) Case Study

Phase 2: Moira Plans Her Course Revisions

Moira
Moira

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[1] 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.

“MUST HAVE”

  1. Move to a blended format:
    1. Learn how to use the LMS at my college so that I can post course content, videos and OERS (including the textbook) for my students to access whenever they need to. I have not used an LMS before, so what I am able to do this time around will heavily depend on how much training I need and how much time I have for that training.
    2. Learn what types of support my students will need in a blended course using the LMS and an open textbook, and what resources are available to support them.
  2. Textbook:
    1. Find an Open Textbook to replace the course-pack.
    2. Learn how to adopt and use an Open Textbook.

“NICE TO HAVE”

  1. Video Demonstrations:
    Find video-based versions of the practical demonstrations my students get in-class. (Ideally, I would like to create some of my own, but I know this is out of scope in my 3-month window).
  2. Quizzes:
    I really want to move my in-class quizzes online but I understand that building quiz questions in an LMS might be out of scope for me this time. I plan to at least learn how to do create quizzes in the LMS now but may not be finished this revision in 3 months. (I may have to administer quizzes through paper hand-outs in class for one more term.)
  3. Copyright-clear images:
    I would like to be sure that I can upload Trades-related images and photos I find to my course LMS site, which really requires me to look for open-licensed images to replace all of the copyrighted images I currently use in my course materials. I suspect I will not have enough time to find open-licensed alternatives to all of the copyrighted images I already have, so this will be a longer-term undertaking. I will not upload any images to my new LMS course site unless I am sure they are openly-licensed.
#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.

  • I have learned that at [my college], the Teaching & Learning Centre provides support for instructors who are teaching online and using the college’s LMS.
  • I have also learned that the LMS [my college] uses is D2L.
#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:

  1. What does it mean to ‘license something as open’? How do I know what I can do with an open education resource?”

    This page provides a quick summary of the 6 levels open licenses, as defined by the Creative Commons organization. This page will be a handy resource to have open when I am searching for OERs and wanted to confirm that a resource was open, or to look up the permissions attached to a particular license: https://open.bccampus.ca/open-textbook-101/demystifying-open-licenses/
  2. Are there criteria – in addition to quality of content – I should include in my review of OERs I find?”

    There are a number of criteria to consider when choosing any type of educational resource. This resource, presented in a checklist format, gives clear guidelines for assessing OERs in particular:
    https://open.bccampus.ca/files/2014/07/Faculty-Guide-22-Apr-15.pdf
     
    I have been looking into what colleagues consider to be the essential criteria of OERs and “accessibility” is one of the key criteria everyone lists. The BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit connects web-content accessibility standards to the requirements placed on contributors to the textbook collection. (This is very much a “how-to” type of Toolkit, so I can also refer to it when I create content for my LMS-course site and want to ensure my content is also accessible.): https://opentextbc.ca/accessibilitytoolkit/
  3. What are the steps I should follow when I’m ready to adopt an OER for my course?”

    The BC Open Textbook Adoption Guide provides greater detail than the first 2 resources, which makes it especially useful to have open when you’re ready to begin:
    https://opentextbc.ca/adoptopentextbook/
#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:

  1. For me, the best place to start my search for an alternative textbook is in the BC Open Textbook collection:
    https://open.bccampus.ca/find-open-textbooks/
  2. I am also finding the “Using an Open Textbook for Your Course” section in the BC Open Textbook Adoption Guide helpful when it comes to finding answers to my questions about distributing the textbook to my students: https://opentextbc.ca/adoptopentextbook/chapter/using-an-open-textbook-for-your-course/

I would definitely recommend that any colleagues who are searching for open-license images use this web service called Creative Commons Search:

  1. While I still needed to confirm that the images I found actually had a CC license, this service will really help me to focus my search for open-licensed images and photos to replace the ones I have been using in my PowerPoint lectures with:
    https://search.creativecommons.org/
#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:

  • Make sure the course description in the college calendar tells students that the course requires they have computer & internet access. I want them to know this before they register so that they can be prepared for the technical requirements and also for the expectation that they will be completing course work outside of our face-to-face class time.
  • Familiarize my students with the LMS course site by going through it with them during our first face-to-face class. My colleagues who have more experience using the LMS to teach their Trades courses have told me that this task is critical and the investment of time at the outset will help avoid stress and wasted time later. Based on their strong recommendations, I am planning to dedicate a full, in-class day to getting my students up-to-speed with the LMS.
  • Create a section on the homepage of my course site with helpful resource links such as online tutorials about using our LMS and some of the college services my students should know about, including where they go for technical or academic support.
#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:

  • Include in the “helpful resource links” section of my LMS course site the phone number, email address and hours of operation for the college’s Teaching & Learning Centre support and also for our Helpdesk support.
#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:

  • Connect with the Disability Resource Centre at my college for their advice about what information I can and should provide to my students about what help is available and how they should seek help if they need it.
  • Include in the “helpful resource links” section of my LMS course site the phone number, email address and hours of operation for the college’s Disability Resource Centre.

 

[1]  Examples of popular LMSs currently in use at BC post-secondary institutions include: D2L, Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard.

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Phase 2: Moira Plans Her Course Revisions by Camosun College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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