Student Collaborations

Using open texts in the classroom can make it easier for students to access and interact with course materials. However, another major aspect of open education is applying the concepts of open to the practices of teaching and learning.

When embarking on an open text project, you may want to include students in the writing process. Having students be creators of content or resources, described as a "Student as Producer" model, emphasizes the role of the student as collaborators in the production of knowledge which helps transform students from being the object of the educational process to being the subject of it. 


Example – Student as Producer Model in an Open Textbook

Cover image for the open textbook UnRoman Romans.

The open textbook, UnRoman Romans, is a reader on socially stigmatized groups in ancient Rome: actors athletes, dancers, sex workers, and sexual non-conformists.

The text was developed by Siobhán McElduff, Associate Professor of Latin literature and Roman culture (UBC Vancouver).  The text began as a series of readings for CLST360E and then was added to by scholarship produced by students in the class in the Spring of 2019 as a part of the course assignments. 

When deciding on producing an open textbook with students, it’s important to discuss with them the benefits, barriers, and potential risks associated with publishing their work openly. The following details issues related to privacy and risk, intellectual property, and student data and hosting platforms that should be discussed and negotiated when developing the open text project.



Privacy and Risks

When working in the open a concern for both students and instructors is privacy.  The online environment offers a great opportunity to collaboratively engage in creating knowledge; however, working online runs the risk of students’ data being collected without their knowledge and used in ways they did not knowingly agree to. Additionally, students working in the open may run into internet trolls, and are potentially in danger of harassment.

Aspects of learning can feel like a private endeavour and working in the open can require deliberate decision-making about how to best manage privacy and online identity. Before engaging in collaborating with students on developing and open textbook, or any OER, reflect on the following questions: 

  • What agency does the student have in deciding to work in the open?
  • Who will see the students’ work?
  • What control does the student have over their work?
  • Who owns the students’ data?
  • Whose voices are heard online and whose are left out and why?
  • What knowledge does the student need to have to comfortably and effectively work on the open textbook?
  • Do students know the difference between internet trolling and valid critique of their work?
  • What support does the student have in developing the content?


UBC Supports

The Digital Tattoo project highlights resources developed by students to help their peers make decisions about their online participation and identity formation:

To learn more, contact the Digital Tattoo at 


Students & Intellectual Property

According to UBC’s Intellectual Property Rights Policies, students own the copyright of their work. This means any work created as a part of their coursework can only be published with the consent of the student creator. For open assignments, this will require a great deal of communication about the intended purpose for sharing their work as well as an option to not take part in the open resource being created. The following are some best practices when engaging in this discussion with your students:

  • Discuss with students the benefits and risks of engaging in open educational resources creation, and why you are asking them to publish their work openly.
  • Engage in a discussion about intellectual property. Consider offering a workshop with UBC Library for students to understand Copyright, open copyright licenses, intellectual property, and working in the open. Contact your subject librarian to learn more.
  • Discuss the various options they have for choosing a license for their work.
  • If you are publishing students’ work on a course site, ask for students’ permission regarding how long they would like their work to be posted publicly. Some may not mind having it posted indefinitely, but some may wish to have their work taken down as soon as the class is finished. At the very least, let them know that if they later decide they would like it taken down, they can contact you.
  • Provide students with a variety of options to share or not share their work publicly. These options could include:
    • publishing with a pseudonym
    • submitting to the instructor or teaching assistant to publish for the student
    • publishing in a way that only other people in that class can see their work
    • submitting only to the instructor or teaching assistant
    • publishing publicly with or without an open license
  • If students agree to share their work publicly, communicate how their contributions will be credited and acknowledged.


Memorandum of Understanding for Student & Faculty Partnerships Template

Developing a statement of agreement that lays out clearly the rights of the students when participating in open resource development can be useful to help students both understand their role in the project and licensing implications. This will allow you to be more certain that the students have understood their rights when agreeing to be a part of it.

Use the following template to outline roles, responsibilities, and expectations in the student/faculty open text partnership: Memorandum of Understanding for Student & Faculty Partnerships Template [Word]

Non-UBC Hosted Sites

If students create videos or presentation slides that you and they would like to make into open educational resources, you might be wondering about asking them to post their work to sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Slideshare, or similar sites. It is important to be aware of and comply with BC FIPPA regulations (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) about identifying information for students being stored outside of Canada.

According to this fact sheet from the University Counsel office on disclosing personal information outside of Canada, at UBC, Cloud-based tools may be used under the following conditions:

  • In the course description, or in a written communication to the students, describe the cloud-based service and the information that it will be storing or accessing, and explain that if the students choose not to provide their consent to this storage or access, they must see the instructor make alternate arrangements; and
  • Make alternate arrangements for students who refuse to provide their consent, such as allowing them to sign in to the service using a false name and non-identifying email address

Of course, students may choose to use applications or tools that are hosted outside of the country, but they cannot be required to use their personal accounts to meet the academic requirements of the course. Many tools and platforms, however, have options for users to remain anonymous through the use of an alias. The Commissioner’s office has indicated that if the use of the tool is required for a course, students must be given an option to use an alias.

Example: Sample Communications to Students about Platforms

UBC uses the BCcampus Pressbooks service, therefore personal information and data are managed under the Terms & Conditions for Privacy as laid out by BCcampus. The Application of Privacy states:

  • BCcampus does not and will not sell, rent, share or disclose your Personal Information without first receiving your permission or as disclosed in this policy.

Communications to Students About Pressbooks Information Privacy Template

Use the following template to inform students about their information privacy and the Pressbook platform:

In this course, students will be using Pressbooks, an online publishing platform that is built on the popular WordPress publishing and blogging platform. This tool will help us create the open textbook for this course, as laid out in your assignment. During the account creation process, you will be required to provide a username, UBC email address, password, and institutional affiliation (UBC). This tool is hosted on servers in Canada. By using this service, you are consenting to the storage of your information on BCcampus servers. BCcampus does not and will not sell, rent, share or disclose your Personal Information without first receiving your permission or as disclosed in this policy. If you choose not to provide your consent, see me for alternate arrangements.


Additional Resources

CTLT has developed a set of guidelines and tools to support informed and ethical engagement around student privacy with non-UBC hosted technologies:


Neary, M. and Winn, J. (2009). The student as producer: reinventing the student experience in higher education. The future of higher education: policy, pedagogy and the student experience. Continuum, London, pp. 192-210. Retrieved from:




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UBC Open Text Publishing Guide Copyright © 2022 by Erin Fields; Amanda Grey; Donna Langille; and Clair Swanson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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