OER Citations

Supporting Authentic Higher Education through Sustainable Open Learning Design


Snow, K. (2020). Supporting Authentic Higher Education through Sustainable Open Learning Design. In G. Parchoma, M. Power, & J. Lock (Eds.), The Finest Blend Graduate Education in Canada. Athabasca University Press. https://read.aupress.ca/read/the-finest-blend/section/50b346a2-894c-4732-8b5e-71382ef5a9c3


According to Tony Bates (2017), a leading Canadian researcher in the field of online learning as well as one of the key investigators of the Canadian National Online Digital Learning survey, which interrogates the implementation of technology for learning within postsecondary institutions, two key issues arise from the 2017 Canadian National Survey of Online Learning that have implications for open learning in higher education. First, many institutions in Canada lack clear documented strategies for open education. Second, where strategies are found, the most effective are those tied to the strategic mission and vision of the particular institution. It is particularly challenging in small teaching-intensive universities to set aside funds and personnel for formal strategic planning specific to open education and the creation or adoption of open resources. In this chapter, I examine the development of a strategy for open education at Cape Breton University (CBU) through a series of small-scale developments that might offer insights for similarly scaled universities in their own processes of sustainable open education policy development. First, I frame the discussion presented here in a review of current literature related to open education and a definition and typology of institutional approaches. Next, I examine the importance of positioning: to what degree does the purpose of opening education affect the design of open education? This is aligned with the mission of CBU, which acts as a case study for policy development in context. Next, I share illustrations of open education approaches chronologically, discussing each in turn in relation to the impacts on faculty time, teaching experience, and resource needs. I then present analyses through comparisons of approaches, illustrations of the common themes that arose from each example, and how they contributed to the long-term strategy for open education implemented in 2016–17. Finally, I discuss implications for the future, with the aim of presenting evidence for other small universities evaluating their own open education strategies. The central bias presented by the case example, rooted in the mission and vision of the university, is relationship building—students with one another, students with the university, and the university with the local community. The development of the open education strategy fundamentally guided by relationship building and how CBU was able to balance this goal against institutional constraints form the thesis of this chapter.

Citation Type: Book Chapter