My name is Kim Carter and I am a Professor at Conestoga College in Southern Ontario, Canada. I am a first generation student from a working-class family. I returned to school as an older adult and began my teaching career. My teaching has always been influenced by education leaders such as bell hooks and Stephen Brookfield but it wasn’t until I completed the eCampus Ontario Extend Empowered Educator program that I found OPEN and now aspire to become an effective advocate for Open Education Practices (OEP).
I started a blog when I participated in eCampus Ontario Extend mOOC. Read those reflections here. I use blogging as a form of reflective practice for my own teaching, my own learning, and now as I explore the open educational pedagogy (OEP) space. I hope you find something helpful in my reflections.
I have always thought that students that cut corners and “cheat” do so out of desperation. I thought that if I can just support student’s learning then they won’t feel the need to cut corners. My recent awareness that there are hundreds of homework sites that essentially provide students with answers to assignments and tests was disappointing. I think that it was disappointing because is seemed to perpetuate the antagonistic relationship of teacher and student which seems counterintuitive to the supportive teacher that I aim to be. When I saw Dave Cormier’s invitation on Twitter to hear his CoOp students talk about their experiences with homework sites and how Open pedagogy could provide part of a solution…. well, I was in. The following reflection is my contribution to Conestoga College’s share-back session for #OEWeek 2021.
Themes from the Presentation
Student’s perceive that the faculty response to “homework sites” like Chegg has been to create assignments and tests that are more difficult, intensive, and time restricted. The thought being there will be no time to search out answers. This has resulted in a greater number of students going direct to Chegg for the answer than before. On the surface homework sites appear to provide help with homework by allowing students to verify their answers once they have completed their work. As one student presenter commented “co-students have completed their work but they want to make sure they got the answer correct so that their grades do not suffer”.
Chegg is expensive with multiple layers ranging from some limited free options to an expensive subscription. Subsequently, disadvantaging students without the means to pay for subscriptions. That being said there is nothing stopping someone with a subscription from sharing the answers with others and I learned today that there are hundreds of companies that do just that with varying fee structures.
Is Cheating a Faculty Construct?
Since information is readily available on the internet no longer does the faculty or the textbook hold all the answers exclusively. So, faculty respond by making the assessments harder and/or restricted by time. Dave Cormier posed the notion that cheating may be a faculty construct because cheating only happens when faculty withhold the answer. Faculty may construct the notion of cheating by telling students that they can’t see the answer that they must memorize the answer to be regurgitated on a test and then be judged competent or not. By the time a student reaches Higher Ed they believe that this is how “school” works.
In this current way of responding to homework sites faculty are punishing all students even those students who do not want to rely on these types of sites, students who want to engage in their own learning and complete their own work. The term used in today’s presentation was The Assessment Stick. Meaning using the assessment as an extrinsic motivator or worse as a type of punishment.
How Do We Stop Cheating Behaviours?
So the question turned to how than can we stop cheating? The response was faculty need to treat students like the professionals that they are training to be. Faculty need to show students the how and why we choose to layout the course the way that we do. So, that we can prepare students for the occupation that they are training and educating for. We need to inspire intrinsic motivation for completing course work.
Deconstruct our goals for the course, consider why we give students assignments and for what purpose? This requires a degree of self-reflection to really unpack the why and what for in how we prepare courses and assessments. Prepare assignments that introduce students to the work field, habits expected in the work field, and practical context for learning. .
Deconstruct with students their motivations and expectations and re-establish the social contract with students at the beginning of the course. Talk with the student about goals for learning and expectations, agree to those goals and then hold for accountability.
Provide iterative assignments with formative feedback check-ins. Avoid well structured problems and instead provide ill-structured problems. Ill-structured problems are those that are not directly measurable, do not have a solution or clear definition and/or only work on part of the problem. The pushback is that this is difficult in classes with large numbers and will be difficult to manage. The question posed back was do you think what we do know works? Isn’t it always difficult in classes with large numbers?
How Can OPEN Pedagogy Help?
Open Authored Textbooks introduce students to someone doing the work in the field. The Open texts are often networked so opportunities exist for students to make connections in the field of knowledge with a variety of perspectives. Cormier (2021) suggested that we allow students the space to “go down the rabbit holes” with their curiosity subsequently building intrinsic motivation . Click here to learn how to use Wikipedia games for intrinsic motivation.
Open Pedagogy allows for student choice in assignments, be open to how students choose to learn and pick what they want to explore. This doesn’t mean they can just study whatever they want. It requires a collaborative discussion between faculty and student to ensure alignment with the outcomes and goals for the course.
Build Trust with students by deconstructing the power relationships between faculty and student and change from a combative and antagonistic relationship to a trust relationship. Expect pushback, remember students have been doing “school” for many years and have been conditioned to expect “school” experiences in a particular way.
A concern I heard today and one I hear often within my own teaching environment. What do we do about students who are not motivated by a desire to work in this field. A student presenter responded with but many students do care and are invested in their learning what about us? Cormier, suggested that a core value is to design courses and assessments for the student who does care. This is a core value that I share and another reason that I believe open educational practices is the way forward.
On Wednesday 100+ participants came to the kick-off and we even enjoyed a break-out room activity. The participants in my break-out room activity are from varying backgrounds such as library services, research, and public health. It was interesting to learn the reasons that brought us all to this course.
According to the website the program should take about 3 – 5 hours each month. Yesterday, I started my course readings and due to exploration of many deeper learning readings, I may have already already spent close to three hours. As I excitedly shared what I was reading with my partner (he nodded appropriately but not enthusiastically) about the structure and history of publishing I have more questions than answers.
The following blog post is a summary of the questions and my answers for the Tech@Conestoga Panel Interview May 26, 2020
Q 1) Please share a bit about yourself in your role at Conestoga and about how you’ve embraced tech in your teaching
A: Hello my name is Kim Carter and I am a Professor in the Business School. I have been teaching at Conestoga for over 10 years
I noticed worrisome trends in the past few years.
Student were not purchasing textbooks
Students did not seem to have the digital competencies/computer skills that I was expecting
Ed tech options were multiplying so quickly that I didn’t have the time to keep up with them all
So, I went on a quest to update my own digital literacy skills and I discovered Open Educational Pedagogy (OEP) which is sometimes described as critical digital pedagogy (Rosen & Smale, 2015). OEP is a large topic to unpack in a few minutes but what it means to me is to view course construction through an inclusive lens, co-construct learning with students, build digital literacy skills, and consider when tech is problematic.
What I would like to share with you today is the Medical Terminology Open Educational Resources (MT OER) collaboration project.
I am co-creating with a collaborative team (from 8 Ontario Institutions) of SMEs, students, library, ed tech and many others on Open Educational Resources (OER) for Medical Terminology (MT) in context with Introductory Anatomy and Physiology.
These customized MT OER are targeted for health office administration (HOA) students and the plan is to replace two paid textbooks with these MT OER
Variations of the HOA program is offered at 18 colleges in Ontario and Medical Terminology and Introductory A&P are included in all of them
We will publish in the eCampus Ontario Open Library in August for adoption in the Fall semester.
To learn more about OER and why it is important to me, visit my blog post here
Students will have resources that are customized to their program of study on the first day of class and at no cost to the student
The resources are interactive using PressbooksEDU platform with many formative H5P activities built into each chapter
Chapters can be linked individually to weeks in the LMS
The H5P activities can be embedded in the LMS for ease of use even before publishing
Students are Co-constructing the MT OER:
Students started participating in Fall 2019 by making (as low-stakes formative assessment) H5P activities
Students (Fall 2019/Winter 2020) edited and gave suggestions for the H5P activities as they were being built
Seeking out errors and putting forth corrections
Making suggestions such as the audio addition to the dialog cards
Students (Conestoga College and Georgian College) continue to collaborate by providing the student perspective on the MT OER, creating formative activities, and reinforcement activities
They have put in many hours (part of placement and co-curricular record) and still wish to contribute in the process
Future students will continue to co-construct because this is a living textbook to which we can pull back, add to, or publish future modified editions.
Q 2) How did the switch to remote learning impact you? In what ways were you ready to tackle this challenge?
A) Remote learning during a world-wide pandemic is stressful. Decisions need to be made quickly combined with heightened anxiety and stress, this wasn’t, and probably won’t be easy for a while.
Feeling somewhat prepared:
During the bus strike and prior to remote delivery, I had introduced students to virtual conferencing software, MS TEAMS was already set up in my sections, and students knew how to use it.
Students were familiar to experimenting and co-constructing with me.
For example, students knew that we were going to use FlipGrid for a scaffold assessment in therapeutic communications. They had to make the adjustment from videotaping their group skit together to using virtual conference software (physically distanced)
They exceeded my expectations with their ability to problem solve, find creative and kind solutions to the varying levels of computer access, internet access and schedules among their peers.
I have a large personal learning network (PLN) through my involvement with eCampusOntario and OEP both within Conestoga and outside Conestoga.
I was able to draw from and sort through the large amounts of information on remote delivery because I was able to leverage trusted contacts in my PLN.
I was able to anticipate problems because they were already being discussed in my network. For example, students not having access to internet.
The MT OER collaboration team proved invaluable. Since, we teach in the same programs we were able to share problems and solutions specific to our programs. We already had a good working relationship and a MS Team set up so that expedited those conversations.
Interested in being part of my PLN? Follow me on Twitter @Kcarte02
Q3) How has remote teaching led you to re-think your pedagogy and practices? How does this impact the learners in your courses/programs?
A) Remote teaching has reinforced the core values of OPEN and critical digital pedagogy for me. The sudden shift required me to think through the accessibility and inclusivity of my delivery and assessments. Consider which tools I use and which tools (if any) did I need to adjust. I also needed to consider low-tech options for students with limited internet accessibility.
Moving forward one of my biggest considerations is the amount of assessments in a course and how efficient and equitable they are they at measuring course outcomes.
My re-think will benefit students through:
Increased flexibility and choice for how students participate in lessons and complete assessments.
offering multiple ways to participate: synchronous and asynchronous lessons including low-tech options for students to participate in courses.
Morris & Stommel (n.d) posit that we must have multiple entry points for students to participate in our courses.
Using a critical lens to view tech options particularly around assessments
heightened awareness regarding privacy concerns
building and keeping trust with students through assessment choice
A helpful tool for assessing tech is the SECTIONS model (Bates, 2019)
Q4) What advice would you give to others who want to pursue new learning to enhance their use of technology
Model curiosity, experimentation, and innovation and be prepared to make mistakes in front of students.
Be honest with students, that this is something you haven’t tried before and that you will be learning together. Most students are happy to help.
Build time into your lesson plan to work through the tech without grade penalty.
Digital literacy skills might just be the most important skills that you teach your students so build them yourself (JISC, 2018).
Bates, T. (2019). Teaching In A Digital Age (2nd ed.). Retrieved May 2020, from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/part/9-pedagogical-differences-between-media/
JISC. (2018, 09). Developing Digital Literacies. Retrieved from JISC Guides: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/full-guide/developing-digital-literacies
Morris, S. M., & Stommel, J. (n.d.). An Urgency of Teachers. Pressbooks. Retrieved from https://criticaldigitalpedagogy.pressbooks.com
Rosen, J. R., & Smale, M. A. (2015, Jan 1). Open Digital Pedagogy = Critical Pedagogy. Retrieved from Hybrid Pedagogy: https://hybridpedagogy.org/open-digital-pedagogy-critical-pedagogy/
Today, I had the opportunity to meet with some inspiring individuals. Many like-minded in the concepts of sharing. Sharing in the form of creative commons licensing your work. Through this inspiring exchange a thought crossed my mind and it has been stuck in my head through two more meetings.
What if we promoted licensing our work (faculty created resources) openly with the same concept as those little neighbourhood libraries? Give One – Take One
In the sudden shift to remote delivery, people in all levels of education have been working collaboratively to ensure students are supported in their studies. This has required efficiencies. Sharing resources is efficient. It takes a heavy workload and disperses it among many people.
Colleagues, like students are overwhelmed with balancing home life, work life and challenging internet stability. If we share the workload we are displaying kindness and empathy not only to our colleagues but by extension to their students.
I know, some of you are going to say that is very altruistic. People, do not want to openly share their work. How will I differentiate myself from others? What if my work isn’t good enough to be put out in the open. Who owns my work and the list goes on and on.
Here is my thought. I think we need to help each other out. It doesn’t have to be huge and require more energy than we can spare. Maybe we share just one thing.
I challenge you to openly license one of your educational creations and share. Then look for an openly sourced resource you can use. Give One – Take One
Even better… be the person who stuffs the little neighbourhood library full of books.
If you had the opportunity to give each of your students a financial scholarship would you? What if I told you that you could, in the form of open educational resources (OER). Initially, that was my motivation to find and use OER. I recognize that I am gaining so much from the experience and to borrow a sentiment from Marie Kondo, It brings me joy and I am going to keep (doing) it.
In this blog post I will share what I have learned about OER and why I think that they are important to students and to educators. I will interject with questions that I am still pondering and I welcome your participation (in my reflective practice) by commenting below the post. In a series of blog posts I will reflect upon and share my journey exploring Open Educational Pedagogy (OEP).
What are OER?
According to United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) the definition of OER first emerged in 2002 and is defined as:
“teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.”
Why I was intrigued?
I was initially intrigued by the idea that a textbook could be a living resource, meaning that educators could make corrections, add content and update the textbook regularly. I teach in programs that are part health and part business and it is rare to find resources that match perfectly to the outcomes of my courses. This means that I am continuously editing, adding, and modifying content to ensure course outcomes are met.
Students Challenged by Costs
One of the main challenges with paid textbooks is that students do not have the required resources on the first day of classes. The reasons are complex but often tied to finances. I attended a Textbook Broke campaign and students explained that sometimes they had to choose required textbooks and access codes over groceries, signing their children up for sports, or future courses.
Aren’t Textbooks Part of Education Costs?
I know you might be thinking aren’t textbooks just part of the cost of going to school. Certainly, this has been the accepted practice. I am not suggesting that authors and businesses should not be fairly compensated for intellectual property and production of textbooks. However, it has been reported that textbook costs have out paced inflation significantly and that 65% of students do not purchase textbooks because of it (Del Valle, G, 2019). Is this a problem? I think so. Is this fair? I do not think so. Something to pause and reflect upon.
OER Increase Student Completion Rates
The benefits for students go beyond saving money on textbook costs. The benefit to having the resources the first day of class means that students can engage at the start, stay on top of homework, and course preparation. So it should not be a surprise that this leads to higher course completion rates and we can anticipate higher program completion rates (Skidmore, 2019). This impacts students who may be disadvantaged, marginalized, and first-generation students (Jhangiani, 2018). The notion that OER/OEP can address concerns in regards to equity, diversity and inclusion is certainly worth exploring.
Benefits for Educators
OER do so much more then save students money the curation and creation of OER also benefits educators. Skidmore (2019) found that when faculty are engaged and involved in the process of creating resources it leads to high quality teaching. As I curate and create OER I am realizing that I am deeply engaged with the material. As I work collaboratively with colleagues and students I am challenged to decide what is required, to view from their perspectives and this process is transformative. My courses will now be driven by collaboratively created OER in a different way then paid textbooks have been. My engagement with the material is deeper and my hope is this will be reflected in my teaching and in my student’s learning.
Why Does it Bring Me Joy?
Curating, creating and organizing collaborative OER is hard work and time consuming but it is breathing new life into my teaching practice. The challenges that OER may assist in addressing are exciting and worth exploring. I have had the opportunity to talk to and learn from OER advocates, students, and colleagues at a deep level and this brings me joy. So, I am going to keep (doing) it.