eCampusOntario is a non-profit organisation in Canada, funded by provincial government to lead a consortium of Ontario’s publicly-funded colleges, universities, and indigenous institutes to advance the use of educational technology and digital learning.
eCampusOntario started a successful community of practice to advance open education in the province, through a network of ‘Open Rangers’. The Open Ranger initiative was instrumental in drawing attention to the good work of individuals at the provincial level.
In this section, we will summarise the initiative to see if there are lessons or ideas we can learn from for teachers wanting to promote open education in the Pacific region. Bearing in mind that the concept of ‘Ranger’ may not be familiar in our context, we begin with a brief description of concepts.
In Canada, Park Rangers play a vital role in preserving the country’s natural resources. Park Rangers are individuals who are passionate about protecting the environment and wildlife in Canada’s national and provincial parks. Park Rangers look after the land and embrace sustainable methods in their work.
‘Open Rangers’ is the term eCampusOntario selected for the individuals who started a successful community of practice promoting OER and open education practices (OEP) at post-secondary education institutions in Ontario Canada. Open Rangers form a network of educators and practitioners interested in supporting the advancement of open education within their institution. Open Rangers are individuals who are passionate about education as a public good, and who promote OER as a sustainable approach to education.
Background to the open education initiative at eCampusOntario
In 2016, eCampusOntario’s New Program Development Fund announced the ‘Open Content Initiative’ and posted the first call for the creation and adaptation of Open Educational Resources funding 24 projects. In 2017, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities announced a $1 million investment to support the development of Open Educational Resources at Ontario colleges and universities. As of 2021, the Open Library Initiative at eCampusOntario reports student savings of over $12 million as a result of OER being used to replace closed proprietary resources.
The eCampusOntario ‘Open Ranger’ initiative
Facilitating engagement and adoption of OER across institutions in Ontario Canada was supported by the establishment of the ‘Open Ranger’ community of practice.
Following the investment of government funding for OER in the province, eCampusOntario hosted the first Open Education Ontario Summit in 2017. Participation in the summit was limited to 100 seats.
Prospective attendees were encouraged to submit an application outlining why Open Education matters in their work, and were also invited to provide an idea for an Open Education project they wanted to see within their respective institutions prior to participating in the summit. The summit was designed to encourage collaboration and innovation around the concepts of Open.
A stated outcome of the Open Education Ontario Summit was to create a passionate, dedicated community that would support the use of OER in classrooms across Ontario. The summit was used to support the first group of ‘Open Rangers’ to develop Open Education initiatives, both within their work and their educational institutions.
A second summit was organised in 2018, inviting a second cohort of individuals to apply to attend the summit and join the Ontario Open Rangers. These ‘Rising Open Rangers’ were provided the oppotunity to work closely with the more experienced Open Rangers from the first cohort.
Co-ordinated centrally by eCampusOntario, the ‘Open Ranger’ group of individuals used a number of tools, strategies, and approaches to support uptake of OER, including:
- A dedicated e-mail list and digital messaging platform for Open Rangers
- A dedicated ‘Open Ranger’ web page, used to share examples of good practice
- Design sprints to develop promotional material and resources to support the work of ‘Open Rangers’ at their respective institutions. (For example, Posters summarising the Creative Commons licenses, re-usable slideshow presentations with speaker notes, etc.)
Recommend an appropriate name for OER community of practice leaders in your region
The concept of an ‘Open Ranger’ and its intended associations will be familiar to Canadians. However, the label may not be appropriate for your region.
Please join the consultation to recommend an appropriate name or label for community of practice leaders or co-ordinators for your community or region by posting in the forum.
Assume that you have been tasked by your Ministry of Education to recommend a suitable name or designation for community leaders or co-ordinators to promote the adoption of OER in your country through a community of practice.
- What name would you recommend for these OER community co-ordinators?
- Briefly explain your suggestion, providing reasons why your choice is suitable for your context
Please post your suggestions in the online forum, and join the conversation by replying to any posts you find interesting.