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Wednesday, November 2 • 2:15pm - 2:40pm
How to Open an Academic Department: A Case Study

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This presentation is the story of how my psychology department embarked on the winding and pot-holed road to openness. In the space of two years we went from virtually zero open educational resources and practices to a department that leads our institution in terms of the number of sections taught with open textbooks. This achievement helped our institution become the first in the province to reach 100 class adoptions, with an estimated quarter million dollars in savings for our students. Today, our faculty have authored, adopted, or adapted open educational resources such as textbooks, courses, test banks, and wikis. We have collaborated with student groups, librarians, other disciplines, administrators, government agencies, and non-profits. Our open educational resources (OER) committee facilitates open initiatives. And we have conducted research into the efficacy of open vs. traditional textbooks.

This presentation provides insights into how an academic department opened itself to the principles, practices, and possibilities of open education. This embracing of openness is remarkable given the closed nature of most academic departments. Academic departments are the scholarly enclaves where new and powerful ideas are endlessly generated. Ironically, new ideas applied to the department itself and that might improve governance models, program offerings, or traditional practices are typically met with resistance. Academic resistance to change is rooted in the nature and history of universities themselves. For more than 95% of their thousand-year-old history, universities were primarily tasked with knowledge transfer from master to student. This task was facilitated by the hierarchical, parochial, and tradition-bound governance structures and organizational processes that emerged over those centuries and which are still largely in play today. The painfully slow adoption of open educational resources and practices is the latest consequence of this reality.

This presentation will cover strategies, lessons learned, and practical advice for opening your academic department, specifically, (a) ideas for fostering a departmental culture of openness; (b) advice for addressing quality issues related to OER; and (c) suggestions for increasing departmental control over open education initiatives.

Wednesday November 2, 2016 2:15pm - 2:40pm EDT