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

In this issue:

1. Open Education
2. MOOCs
3. Flipped Classroom

Open education

Mainstreaming open textbooks: Educator perspectives on the impact of OpenStax College open textbooks

OpenStax College, an open textbook publisher, and OER Research Hub, an open research project, have collaborated on research examining the impact of open educational resources (OER) on learning and teaching. Surveys were conducted with educators who used OpenStax textbooks between 2013 and 2015. The majority of educators surveyed perceived increased student satisfaction using the textbooks. The report explores findings related to the impact of OER on educator practice and provides recommendations based on these findings.

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MIT floats a new online credential: The MicroMaster’s

MIT announced the creation of a stream of courses in supply chain management that will allow any student to obtain a “MicroMaster’s” degree. Through edX, a free online website, anyone is eligible to take the suite of courses designed by MIT. Students can then apply for a residential slot at MIT; upon completing a semester at MIT, they would graduate with a full master’s degree. The experiment, which MIT calls “inverted admission,” will be piloted in February 2016. MIT states this experiment is “democratizing access to a master’s program for learners worldwide.”

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Teaching and learning: Taking stock

Since forming the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching in 2011 and launching edX with MIT in 2012, Harvard is now reviewing and assessing their efforts in blended and online learning. In a white paper report, Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber explores three of Harvard’s goals: “expanding access to knowledge,” “improving teaching and learning on campus,” and “advancing our understanding of how people learn.” Garber, along with Peter K. Bol, vice provost for advances in learning, elaborate on the research of the report and discuss the application of online-course technology to on-campus teaching and changes in classroom practice. UBC, which joined the edX consortium in 2014, is now similarly integrating MOOCs on campus in order to make teaching and learning more effective for students.

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Better residential learning is the true innovation of MOOCs

Dr. Joshua Kim, director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, discusses the impact MOOCs have had on teaching and learning. Kim argues that the most important innovation of MOOCs is bringing a cultural change—now, more attention and investment is being placed on residential learning. Because institutions do not want to have large courses that are less valuable in terms of learning than MOOCs, “residential classes must add value beyond that which can be gained (and measured) in open online education.”

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Flipped classrooms

Team-based learning [podcast], Teaching in Higher Ed

In this podcast, Jim Sibley, director of the Centre for Instructional Support in the Faculty of Applied Science at UBC, describes how to engage students with team-based learning. Team-based learning, which is a teaching approach used by a number of programs in Applied Science, reduces lecture time in large classes by asking students to work in small teams. Teams should ideally be five to seven individuals, who work together to solve problems and make decisions. This strategy emphasizes the team process; students are responsible and evaluated on their participation in the team.

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