Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Research fellow appointments are starting to become a habit for faculty at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).
Psychology instructor Dr. Farhad Dastur has been named a 2016-17 Open Education Group (OEG) research fellow, making it the second year in a row that a KPU faculty member has been selected. Last year, Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani earned the honour.
“This is a huge accomplishment, and we couldn’t be more proud of Dr. Dastur,” said Dr. Alan Davis, KPU president and vice-chancellor. “That fact that he is one of only four Canadian researchers named an OER research fellow this year is a testament to his dedication to removing barriers to education, and for that we are all better.”
The OEG is an interdisciplinary organization that conducts research on the impact of open education resources. Research fellows are guided by a research framework that considers the cost of education, student success outcomes, and perceptions and usage patterns of open education resources. Research fellows will also attend the Open Education 2016 conference in Virginia. Dastur will present a paper at that conference titled, How to 'Open' an Academic Department.
“I believe that open education is one of the most transformative developments in education. Open education takes the spirit of sharing, giving, collaboration, and transparency and leverages those ideals with the Internet's flattening capabilities, mobile computing, and the wider freedoms of flexible copyright and ‘copyleft.’ When done right, this can result in improvements in accessibility for learners and greater content control and creative collaboration for educators," said Dastur, who has been teaching psychology at KPU for 15 years.
Dastur became interested in the power of open education several years ago. Around the same time, he began learning about several other open movements, including open source, open science, open data, open access, and open government. He “decided to investigate what all the commotion was about” and after a year of inquiry, conversations, workshops, and reflection, made a philosophical commitment to “openness” in all its forms.
“In many ways, this was actually a re-commitment to the very ideals I had always held as an educator, scientist, and citizen. These ideals were the intersecting notions of transparency, collaboration, and the removal of barriers to learning which included geographical obstacles, price barriers, and copyright permission restrictions.”
Dastur also credits his fellow faculty, staff and administrators at KPU for advancing open education. Specifically, the psychology department has made some important steps toward encouraging its faculty to adopt open textbooks, saving KPU students hundreds of thousands of dollars without any sacrifices in quality.
KPU also created an active Open Studies Group, and Dastur extends an “open” invitation to anyone else in the KPU community interested in collaborating on open education-related research or teaching initiatives.
About the BC Open Textbook Project
The B.C. Open Textbook Project is funded by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, and BCcampus is tasked with managing it. A goal of the Project is to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources in B.C. by making available openly-licensed textbooks in the highest-enrolled academic subject areas. A second phase was announced in the spring of 2014 to add at least 20 textbooks targeting trades and skills training. For more information, visit bccampus.ca.
About Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at kpu.ca.
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