Flexibytes: Flexible learning news, trends, and resources.
Welcome to the Flexibytes newsletter featuring flexible learning news, trends, and resources at UBC and beyond.

In this issue:

1. Open Education
2. Emerging Media
3. Teaching and Learning Innovation

Open Education

Open UBC snapshot: Use of open resources continues to increase

This report from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at UBC looks at the use of open textbooks and other resources at UBC Vancouver over the past seven years. Since 2011, more than 47,000 UBC students have enrolled in courses in which instructors have used open or freely accessible resources rather than traditional textbooks. Students have saved at least $4.7 to $6.7 million as a result, and these figures are increasing each year. In the 2017 academic year, courses using open resources impacted 20 percent more students compared to the previous year, representing an estimated savings of $1.4 to $2.2 million.

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The truth (about OER) is out there

Inside Higher Ed looks at the challenges that faculty face with finding open educational resources (OER) and the solutions that are emerging. According to a report from the Babson Survey Research Group, while awareness of OERs is slowly increasing, over 50 percent of the faculty respondents still did not know the term OER or understand it. Challenges also include finding resources that may be spread across various channels, and making time to replace course texts with OERs. However, OER advocates say search tools for finding open resources have greatly improved, and university librarians can also be invaluable in finding resources.

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Open education resources (OER) applications from around the world

This report gives a detailed description of OER adoption at 13 colleges and universities around the world, including UBC Vancouver. The report explores various themes, such as strategies to involve faculty in the development and use of OER and benefits of OER for student learning and teaching.

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Emerging Media

VR and AR: Learners as creators and world builders of our immersive future

This Educause Review article looks at student involvement and students as creators in AR and VR. The authors give examples of student-led projects at universities in the United States and list some key takeaways from these projects that can help students become creators and leaders in developing new forms of media. The article also talks about how many of these projects involve collaborations with the larger community and their impact outside of the classroom.

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7 things you should know about photogrammetry

This brief on photogrammetry is part of the Educause Learning Initiative’s “7 Things You Should Know About” series, which explores emerging learning technologies and describes “what [the technology] is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning.” Photogrammetry is “the process of using photographs of real-world objects to create digital 3D representations of those objects.” The brief looks at how it’s being used in education in fields such as archaeology, architecture and engineering. It also explores its potential application, such as increasing accessibility for learners who are partially blind or unsighted with the use of 3D tactile gloves, which can enable learners to experience or “see” materials that were previously inaccessible.

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At MIT, it's out with the old case studies, in with immersive onesThis radio segment and article from WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, looks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Case Study Initiative. The initiative, run out of the Center for Real Estate, develops multimedia case studies that use videos, sound, photos and games. Danya Sherman, manager of the initiative, said the case studies are like something “between an academic paper, a website and a documentary film, and we don't see anything like it that's ever been created before… We really want students to feel like they're on the ground with us, investigating with us what is going on in a particular place and what led to those outcomes and asking questions of us, too, like, who did we not interview that maybe we should have?"

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Teaching and Learning Innovation

Will open online education disrupt the master’s admissions funnel?

Joshua Kim, director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Centre for the Advancement of Learning, looks at the impact that MicroMasters could have on graduate programs. He points to the popularity of MIT’s Supply Chain Management MicroMasters, where students who complete five online courses and pass a final exam can apply for admission to the residential program at MIT. Kim shares seven hypotheses on how MicroMasters will work with other professional master’s programs. Among these, he posits that MicroMasters will be concentrated in specialized programs, and there will be high student demand for MicroMasters as more people are looking to get master’s degrees.

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The propaganda behind personalised learning

English teacher and author Benjamin Doxtdator examines the popularity behind personalised learning. Doxtdator looks at how media funded by “venture philanthropists” has “emerged to push the agenda of ‘personalised learning’ as a solution to what’s broken in the US and global education systems.” According to Doxtdator, venture philanthropists aim to profit from personalised learning by creating more markets for software and solutions. He advocates for people to educate themselves on these issues and create communities to share critical perspectives.

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Equipping our next generation to communicate to the publicConcordia University has launched a new public scholars program where doctoral candidates will learn a range of communication skills that will help them share their research with a wider audience. Scholars are paid $10,000 to complete the program, and they are trained in areas such as interviewing skills, social media best practices, crafting messages, and government relations. “Equipping our next generation of experts to become the kinds of influencers most universities prize but seldom prepare is a necessary update to doctoral programs, which have changed little in the past century – a deep irony in today’s knowledge societies,” writes Alan Shepard, president of Concordia University.

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Predicting 2017's legacyA panel of digital learning experts share their thoughts on significant digital learning developments from the past year and how the conversations around these developments could evolve. The developments include the rise of automation, the expansion of career and competency-based education, an increased resistance to disruptive innovation, the proliferation of open educational resources, the use of digital technologies to improve access to education, and a growing understanding of student needs.

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