This post is co-authored by Wenes Gunawan, Elizabeth Smith and Mais Fatayer.
We light a candle to illuminate the darkness, for ourselves and others.
Open educational practices (OEP) are the lit candle of teaching and learning: an approach from which everyone benefits. According to the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, OEP draws on open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues.
We can have open educational resources that really align to the curriculum, that can enhance interactions between students and between students and teachers, and that also really strongly connect back to that lifetime of learning…Professor Kylie Readman, UTS Open Education Week 2023
Open education is not new – David Wiley has long advocated the benefits of open educational resources (OERs), including minimising barriers to education. At UTS, numerous advocates over the years have highlighted the benefits of open education for the UTS community.
So where are we at with OEP at UTS right now? Here’s a peek at some of the initiatives currently being led by and for our teaching community.
It’s no surprise that UTS Library staff have been consistent advocates and enablers of open education at UTS, with resources like:
UTS Library also led the development of the UTS Open Access Policy to include clearer references to open education resources and practices. These include a definition of what open education at UTS looks like:
3.3 Open education at UTS encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment. Open education maximises opportunities to make education more affordable, accessible and effective.UTS Open Access Policy 2021
This policy encourages all teaching staff to share their practice and learn from others by engaging with open education. With a policy review date approaching in 2024, you may want to consult with a librarian and discuss what would best enable OEP for you.
In 2023 the LX.lab hosted Open Education Week (OEW), featuring speakers from UTS and international figures like Cable Green and Maha Bali. This was a unique opportunity for learning and teaching communities in UTS and other Australian universities to raise awareness and promote the benefits of open education. You can catch up on events from OEW with our blog post series.
We also support OEP through our content and learning technologies:
- Adaptable resources for teaching with technology (ARTT) offers learning activities and authentic assessments, all of which are shared openly under Creative Commons licenses, which allows use, re-use and repurposing. If GenAI is inviting you to re-design your assessment, try the ARTT collection!
- Integrating open education resources includes approaches on how to use OERs as well as actual case studies from other higher educational institutions to help you see the actual outcomes and the artefacts generated by each approach.
- Supported technologies like H5P, Mentimeter, Kaltura, and Canvas Commons contain shared repositories that make sharing teaching materials with your colleagues easier than ever before. The LX.lab also maintain repositories of Canvas templates for each faculty that you can reuse in your Canvas sites.
Postgraduate Learning Design Team
To make sustainable content available across all disciplines, PGLD created the Sustainability Module accessible through Canvas Commons. This ready-to-go, customisable content is an exemplary OER developed in collaboration with Professor Sara Wilkinson from the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building and the UTS Sustainability Strategy Unit. The learning experience weaves together topical videos, current news articles, reflection prompts and other interactive activities to introduce sustainability concepts and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Find out more about the Sustainability module.
A culture of technology-enabled sharing is developing in faculties across UTS. Multiple faculties, including Science, Law and FEIT, maintain their own Canvas or SharePoint sites for staff to share educational resources and materials with their colleagues.
Academics are leading innovative OEP projects to expand access to UTS knowledge and expertise. Inspired by the LX.lab learning design meetup, Associate Professor Amanda White developed Australia’s first open accounting textbook, Accounting and Accountability. This book has already helped Accounting students collectively save nearly AU$580,000, which they would have otherwise spent on commercial textbooks during their first year of study.
There were 3 main reasons for creating our own Open Textbook – the first is that we wanted to introduce Indigenous perspectives on business and accounting and engage in some decolonisation. Second – we wanted to improve access to tertiary education by reducing costs with a free text, and finally, with greater blended learning – I wanted to be able to share my voice in a textbook – the text is written how I talk and converse, and includes first person story-telling.Associate Professor Amanda White, Faculty of Business
In DAB, the School of Design developed the UTS Design Index to share their design resources and artefacts with the UTS community and the public.
The UTS Design Index is designed to support independent, collaborative and cross-disciplinary learning. While the UTS Design Index has been created for UTS students we hope that the wider design community finds it valuable … We too are committed to access, openness and quality.”UTS Design Index website, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
The Faculty of Science has developed the Science Learning and Teaching Canvas site, which provides a dynamic platform for sharing teaching activities created using Canvas tools and H5P. The topics in this site cover Accessibility and inclusive learning, Engaging in Canvas Learning (asynchronous learning) and Academic integrity. Science academics are also encouraged to contribute to this site by sharing their own teaching resources.
The shared Canvas site means that Science academics don’t need to start from scratch every time they design new activities. They can choose a high-quality asynchronous learning activity that looks good and has already been tried and tested in another subject. They can then adapt the page to their specific needs and populate it with their own content. This both enhances the student experience and reduces academic workload.Cathy Gorrie, Faculty of Science
Ideas, like candlelight, can’t be diminished through sharing. We need to keep developing a culture of sharing at UTS – through sparks and flickers and flames, we can help each other create an inclusive and open culture of teaching at UTS.
This is just a snapshot of the innovative OEP work happening at UTS. What did we miss? Let us know about any open education projects you or your colleagues are working on in the comments below.