Brock adds to lineup of virtual learning resources

With the support of government funding, Brock University has added two new projects to its robust list of virtual learning opportunities.

Virtual Learning Strategy funding from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities via eCampusOntario has led to the creation of added History and Mathematics and Statistics online learning options for Brock students.

A new course from Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Pouria Ramazi will see students learn how to use complex machine learning models through short videos that break up the material into easy-to-learn pieces for a broader audience that may have less background knowledge on the subject. Meanwhile, the latest addition to the History course catalogue has Associate Professor of History Daniel Samson helping students to explore 18th century settler colonialism through the examination of primary sources.

The new courses add to a list of eight virtual learning projects led by Brock and 12 additional projects the University has partnered on, all of which are now available and can be shared with anyone online at no cost.

Though the projects vary greatly in focus, they each contribute to resources that support faculty and students, said Giulia Forsythe, Associate Director of Brock’s Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI).

“The Virtual Learning Strategy has been an incredible opportunity for Brock University’s excellent researchers to showcase their expertise by creating student-centred, open educational resources (OERs) to increase access, affordability and learning,” she said.

With nearly $800,000 committed to Brock’s projects, Forsythe said the focus of these open educational resources means the initiatives are making an impact at Brock and beyond.

“Many of these projects were co-created with students and colleagues across the sector,” she said. “Most of these OERs have been added to the eCampusOntario Pressbooks library, in addition to the hundreds of titles already available.”

The success and scale of the projects has also been welcome news to the Brock University Students’ Union, which has made OERs a priority through advocacy and a campaign to bring awareness to the rising cost of textbooks for students.

“BUSU is very happy to see Brock’s commitment to developing high quality and affordable resources for our students,” said Austin Hurley, BUSU’s Vice-President, External Affairs. “We look forward to working together in the future to help Brock further open educational resources on campus however possible.”

While the funding opportunities from eCampusOntario have now wrapped up, Forsythe said there are still options at Brock for instructors who would like to create OERs.

“We are excited to collaborate with the Digital Scholarship Lab to offer the 2022 Digital Scholarship Institute,” she said. “The event includes opportunities for new and experienced instructors to enhance their digital teaching.”

Anyone interested in learning more about open pedagogy and OERs is welcome to attend the Digital Scholarship Institute, which will take place between Tuesday, May 3 and Thursday, May 5, or to contact CPI for a discussion on the use of OERs in their courses.

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