UBC OER Excellence and Impact Award Recipients Announced

The Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic, at UBC Vancouver recently announced the recipients of the inaugural UBC Open Education Resources (OER) Excellence and Impact Awards. These awards recognize outstanding work by faculty who materially advance the use and impact of open educational resources in credit courses at UBC. Recipients were selected based on their overall excellence in creating, revising or using OER in teaching and learning; the impact of their OER work on students, including addressing the affordability of educational materials; and their contribution to the greater open education community at UBC.

UBC Vancouver: Individual award

Suborna Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Forest Resources Management Department

Dr. Ahmed has focused on developing multiple free and openly licensed educational resources, including creating new open textbooks, practice quizzes, and other OERs in areas such as computing in natural resources, forest biometrics, statistics and geospatial data analysis. She has worked with students on the creation of many of these resources, mentoring and fostering a collaborative environment for OER development.

In the development of OER materials, Dr. Ahmed diligently follows accessibility best practices, with a focus on creating resources with universal design principles in mind to ensure they are usable and inclusive for a diverse range of learners. For example, interactive tools and digital textbooks are designed with screen-reader compatibility and user-friendly interfaces. This commitment to accessibility, as well as her attention to incorporating inclusive language and diverse examples, underscores her dedication to creating equitable learning environments through OERs.

UBC Vancouver: Group award

Trevor Campbell, Associate Professor, Statistics
Tiffany Timbers, Associate Professor of Teaching, Statistics
Melissa Lee, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Statistics
Joel Östblom, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Statistics
Lindsey Heagy, Assistant Professor, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

Drs. Campbell, Timbers, Lee, Östblom and Heagy are recognized for their work on two textbooks on data science—the original book for the R programming language and its recently completed translation to the Python programming language—as well as their accompanying Jupyter notebook autograded worksheets. These materials replace paid course materials for over 2,300 students annually at UBC, and are used extensively in UBC’s DSCI100: Introduction to Data Science course. They are also being used in courses at several other institutions in North America, and have been accessed by people from many other parts of the world as well. In addition, team members have successfully encouraged colleagues to share course materials openly on Github.

Accessibility was a key design criterion when producing the materials. Colour palettes are designed to be accessible to all, mathematical equations are typeset in a scalable format using MathJax, and fonts are sized appropriately. Accessibility is also incorporated into the textbook content itself; for example, in the chapter on visualizations, a subsection is devoted to designing visualizations with particular colour palettes and various forms of visual redundancy.

UBC Okanagan: Individual award

Bowen Hui, Associate Professor of Teaching, Computer Science

Dr. Bowen Hui is an exemplary role model and leader at the forefront of OER and accessibility, significantly impacting colleagues and students alike. Dr. Hui engages meaningfully with collaborators and students as partners in the development of her projects, providing enhanced learning opportunities and mentoring while supporting OER development. Dr. Hui’s early OER work began with projects focused on designing open-source introductory programming assessments and human-computer interaction materials that improved accessibility for students with diverse academic backgrounds. Building on her initial success, Dr. Hui has continued to prioritize OER development with numerous related projects that have significantly contributed to removing cost barriers and supporting students to learn at their own pace and through their own pathways, including an interactive reading platform, course gamification platform, and team formation tool.

In addition to her work in post-secondary education, Dr. Hui uses OER to foster the development of computational thinking abilities in young children. Her passionate advocacy has resulted in the creation of a variety of multimodal and gender-neutral resources, supporting STEM engagement in the public school systems. She was also the technical lead in the UBC Curriculum MAP project, which has been adopted by other institutions and is used around the world.

UBC Okanagan: Group award

Tamara Freeman, Associate Professor of Teaching, Chemistry
W. Stephen McNeil, Associate Professor, Chemistry
Riley Petillion, Educational Consultant, TA and Student Development, Centre for Teaching & Learning

Drs. Freeman, McNeil and Petillion championed a multi-year effort to transform UBC Okanagan’s introductory chemistry courses, resulting in the development and integration of 17 different OER learning activities into the first-year chemistry curriculum. Using delivery methods that emphasize active learning, the learning activities encourage students to build knowledge together through frequent opportunities for small-group discussion that reveal the impacts of chemistry principles on their own lives.

Drs. Freeman, McNeil, and Petillion epitomize excellence in OER, leveraging and expanding upon the work of their predecessors in the OER community to create adaptable materials that will benefit students and instructors alike. Their dedication to OER has not only supported students in meeting learning outcomes more effectively but has also resulted in significant cost savings for countless students.