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Welcome to the KPU Teaching and Learning Commons Blog!

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Contributions by KPU Teaching & Learning Community members for the broader community. KPU educators, students, staff and administrators are invited to post your T&L stories, experiences, resources and events. “Login” (bottom right) using your KPU credentials to post. N.B. Postings are moderated to ensure tagging consistency and will appear on the main TL Commons page 15 minutes after approval.

Call for KPU Teaching Fellows & OER Grants now available

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Thanks to the extensive leadership and work by our current Teaching Fellows during our 2016/17 pilot, I’m pleased to announce the continuation of the Teaching Fellows program. Opportunities for faculty to take on leadership roles in current areas of priority are now available in Experiential Learning, Learning Environments and the K-12 Transformation. Deadline for applications: October 2, 2017. More information.

Additionally, KPU has received a BCcampus grant for Open Educational Resources. This funding is being matched by the Provost. The Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant program provides funding and staff support to KPU faculty members interested in creating, adapting, and adopting OERs (and other types of Open Pedagogy). Applications will be reviewed starting on October 15, 2017 until the available funding has been allocated. More information.

Scholarly Inquiry Grant Deadline Approaching! – October 1, 2017

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Are you a KPU faculty member interested in investigating emerging or innovative teaching and learning practices? Are you looking to enhance your students’ learning experience through the findings of your investigation?

KPU’s Teaching & Learning department is now accepting Scholarly Inquiry Grant applications for the Spring semester. For more information on this grant program, eligibility and details on the application process, please visit the following link.

Applications are due by 12:00 noon on October 1, 2017. Please email tlcommons@kpu.ca with any questions!

BCcampus ‘grants’ KPU students more financially accessible options

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KPU has cred when it comes to open education.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) can add another credential to the multitude of options for its students and this one comes with free textbooks.

KPU’s arts certificate received BCcampus’s newest grant, the Zed Cred program. The “Z” in Zed Cred refers to zero textbook costs by way of using open educational resources and/or free library materials.

“This recognition really cements KPU’s leadership in accessible post-secondary education,” said Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, a university teaching fellow in open studies and psychology instructor. “Open education is about inclusion, equity and diversity; all central values to the KPU community and, for that matter, to the Lower Mainland community.”

The criteria for the grant requires a set of courses in a specific program area that allows a student to earn a credential, such as a certificate program without having to pay for textbooks. KPU’s certificate in arts program was chosen because it demonstrated significant student savings and an innovative approach to learning and teaching.

With the full $35,000 grant, KPU will develop pathways for students to earn a certificate in arts by adopting and adapting pre-existing free online open education resources as well as creating new ones. The first pathway for the arts certificate program is set to launch this September with at least 2,100 students saving, on average, an estimated $1,000 each per year.

We’re proud to offer one of Canada’s first Zed Cred programs,” said Dr. Salvador Ferreras, provost and vice-president academic. “We’re all about open access and providing multiple means for learners to pursue their dreams. Zed Cred brings that all one step closer. KPU is perfectly positioned to lead the way into a bold and exciting future of open education.”

Any learning materials created under the Zed Cred program will be freely available and fully editable under the Creative Commons licence so that other post-secondary institutions in B.C. and around the world can borrow from their progress.

KPU also received an Open Education Resource Grant, which matches BCcampus funding with KPU funding for creating new open textbooks, redesigning existing resources, and providing workshops, training and other support services.

Story by Tatiana Tomljanovic & Erin Beattie


About BCcampus Established in 2003, BCcampus provides teaching, learning, educational technology and open education support to the post-secondary institutions in British Columbia, Canada. We bring together the resources and expertise of the institutions in a collaborative model to develop curricular resources that are then made openly available. BCcampus also introduces and supports innovations in learning and teaching, and helps faculty and institutions evaluate and develop leading practice in the use of technology for learning. The work done by BCcampus enables a systemic approach to student learning in B.C. while recognizing the diversity of British Columbia’s post-secondary system.

Note: This post was reblogged from: http://www.kpu.ca/news/2017/07/14/bccampus-%E2%80%98grants%E2%80%99-kpu-students-more-financially-accessible-options

Employment Opportunity: Senior Manager, Educational Development

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I’m pleased to announce that we have a new position available: “Senior Manager, Educational Development.” Since my position also leads our teaching and learning centre at this time, this position will be my right-hand person, be responsible for Teaching and Learning Commons’ team and operations, developing programs, providing consultations and working with faculty, staff, departments and senior administrators. (In other words, it’s akin to an Associate Director that reports to a Vice Provost). This is an excluded, administrative position with direct reports.

This position is suitable for someone who is interested in having a substantial role in advancing teaching, learning and scholarship at a teaching university and contributing to the development and implementation of an institutional strategy on teaching and learning and related plan. It’s an exciting time at KPU as we are establishing a new Centre, developing internal capacity, and striving to be leaders on a number of fronts.

Ad for the position
Job description & org chart

While the position will remain open until filled, review of applications will start on July 24.

A New Perspective on Exams: Congratulations to KPU’s School of Horticulture Landscape Students!

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As KPU’s Spring exam semester comes to a close, the Teaching & Learning Commons sends our congratulations to School of Horticulture Instructor, Michelle Nakano, and her Sustainable Landscape Design II students for a fantastic example of experiential learning and assessment!

Michelle’s students finished their semester with a landscaping exam that involved the design and installation of four townhome patios at West Coast Gardens in Surrey. Students completed the design and installation of their patio and then received feedback from the experts at West Coast Gardens. Students were then able to adopt and integrate the feedback they received into the final end product. This is a wonderful instance of experiential learning and unique assessment practices!


This video showcases the students’ experience during the exam process and their feedback.

How might you add experiential learning or a new assessment practice to your course?


The Second Pan-Canadian Conference on Universal Design for Learning

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Are you interested in sharing UDL practices across sectors and disciplines? Would you like to learn more about current Canadian UDL initiatives?

Registration is now open for The Second Pan-Canadian Conference on Universal Design for Learning from May 31 to June 2, 2017 at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, PEI. This year’s topic is Bringing User Experience to Education: UDL and Inclusion for the 21st Century.

UDL poster jpeg

For more information or to register, please visit www.udlconference.ca.

New Resource on Open Education

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Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 4.39.17 PM

Interested in learning about open education? KPU has leadership in this area. Suggested reading of a new, freely available book, “Open: the philosophy & practices that are revolutionizing education & science”, which can be found at http://ow.ly/rQaO30aJT65. Edited by Rajiv Jhangiani & Robert Biswas-Diener (eds.), the book includes a chapter by Farhad Dastur on, “How to open an academic department”. Congrats and kudos to Rajiv and Farhad!

Pedagogical Ailments Common in Undergraduate Systems

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When a student fails a course one may attribute that failure to any number of personal or pedagogical variables. All educators have encountered the personal ones – a death in the family causes an absence, heavy out of school work hours, etc. – but these things are typically outside of our control. On the pedagogical side there a number of variables only an institution can control. These are things like class sizes, available equipment, out of class support, and so forth. Take out the personal variables, and the institutional ones, and you are left with those things an educator might directly alter to improve success rates.

Of those variables that faculty members can control, the one we seem most able to discuss is academic prerequisites. When too many students fail a course, the first question at the curriculum committee is often whether we ought not to raise the prerequisite grade to get into the course in the first place. Allowing students to enter a course when we know there is a significant failure probability is irresponsible, it is said. This is surely true. We ought not let students take classes they are ill-prepared for, but this isn’t the entire story. It is merely one variable within it.

To say that raising a prerequisite for a course would increase success rates is actually quite misleading when you consider the second-order consequence of that decision. I could dramatically increase the success rate in my courses by making the entry grade A+. If I only accept the most gifted of liberal arts thinkers I am unlikely to fail them in large numbers, but I have obtained this benefit at the cost of leaving those persons who would benefit most out of the conversation entirely. It is as if a hospital lowered its fatality rate by deciding to treat only persons with the common cold. Little is gained by leaving those in need of public service outside of that service.

So the grade one needs to get into a course is only one part of a very complex picture. Sometimes we do need to raise the entry requirements, but (as an open access institution, in particular) these instances should be quite rare. We should, rather, ask what variables might be addressed that don’t involve excluding more people. What other diagnoses are possible? Here are a few.

  1. Assignmentus Disconnectus – In some classes the assignment given is only loosely related to what was actually done in class. If you have spent the semester in open dialogue and debate, a multiple choice test will likely produce results lower than the true achievement levels the students have attained. One can’t measure oranges by the standards of apples. The reverse is also true. If you give an essay test after a semester of keyword memorization, you should expect poor performance.
  2. Formativitus – At the first year level, in particular, universities tend to spend the first few weeks dumping knowledge-level outcomes into students minds. Somewhere around the one month mark a multiple choice test is given. That test is sometimes worth a significant chunk of the students’ grades. They had no chance to fail and correct themselves before that moment – no formative feedback. The first time a student performs a task (cognitive or otherwise) should not be their only shot at it. If they were able to be good at something the first time the need for educators would be dramatically reduced.
  3. Officia Absentia – Students are busy, and sometimes overwhelmed, anxious or under far more pressure than is healthy. They have an unprecedented number of reasons to never avail themselves of office hours. The great virtue, though, of going to a small university is that we have more time. This applies outside of the classroom as well as in it. We need to be available, in person or online, for multiple points of contact with each person. One can’t tailor a strong learning experience without normal human contact. We need to push for it.
  4. Ambiguous Rubrication – If students don’t know what excellence looks like (through rubrics, examples, and modelling) it is entirely unreasonable to expect them to manifest it. They should know, on day one, what the class is aiming at. This means providing not just learning outcomes, but also marking guides and (if possible) exemplars for the upcoming assignments. When people know what they need create, they can attend to their development much more effectively.

Other diagnoses are possible, but these are a good start.

(not a real) Dr. Burns

Upcoming External Conferences, Workshops & Events

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March 29 – Logic Models and Indicators workshop through Fraser Health: KPU is a partner institution and these workshops are available to us. More info.

April 6 – Evaluation 101: Conducting Evaluation for Decision Making workshop through Fraser Health: KPU is a partner institution and these workshops are available to us. More info.

May 1 to 5 – CU2Expo2017: For the Common Good. Hosted by SFU and its community partners. Limited registration available. Details & registration.

May 2 to 3 – Postsecondary Learning & Teaching Conference. University of Calgary. Details & registration.

May 3 to 4 – Engaging Every Learner Conference. UBC Okanagan. Details & registration.

May 6 – Investigating our Practices Conference. Offered by UBC’s Faculty of Education. Early bird registration until April 7. Details & registration.

May 11 to 12 – Vancouver Island University Teaching and Learning Conference. Registration is open until May 3. Details & registration.

May 17 to 18 – SFU’s Annual Symposium on Teaching & Learning: Voices of Diversity and Inclusion: Vulnerabilities, Tensions, and Opportunities. Details & registration.

May 24 to 25 – Open Textbook Summit. Hosted by BCcampus, located at SFU Harbour Centre (downtown). Details & registration.

May 27 to June 2 – Congress 2017: The Next 150 on Indigenous Lands. Canada’s annual Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education conference. Within are various discipline-specific streams such as CSSE (Canadian Society for the Studies of Education). Toronto, ON. Details & registration.

June 1 to 2 – Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG) Spring Workshop. UBC Okanagan. Early bird registration until April 16. Details & registration

June 20 to 23 – Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) Annual Conference. Halifax. Early bird registration until April 30. Details & registration.

July 28 to 30 – Digital Pedagogies Lab. Co-hosted by Hybrid Pedagogy and KPU. Event at KPU Richmond. Details & registration. Any faculty members interested in attending, please contact open@kpu.ca

Teaching with Pizzazz! Easy eLearning Strategies

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KPU Faculty of Health is pleased to invite you to participate in a day of e-learning to focus on strategies for the classroom and online. This is a practical hands-on opportunity to discuss e-learning tools with others and to build a community of practice. Workshops will focus on technologies that are accessible, easy to use, low-cost/free, and can be used in any classroom or clinical setting.

We are all aware learning technology has reshaped how we engage students in teaching, learning and creativity. Various apps, social media and new technologies continue to transform how we share, communicate, network, collaborate, create and disseminate seamlessly online and in the classroom. This conference will focus on the practical applications of these types of technologies in relation to teaching and learning.