Today we started a conversation. The day opened with an all-stakeholder session that was attended by people from a variety of departments at Cambrian. Then, faculty retreated to the hub to do a deep-dive into various areas of openness. Information was shared, engaging questions were asked, and new ideas began to form in the room.


Planning one?

Events were communicated to participants in advance through the Hub’s website, calendar, in-person conversations, department meetings, Twitter and personal invitations. The schedule can be found here in PDF or PowerPoint format for anyone who wants to remix the day. Here is Jess’s amazing planning document with links to the presentations embedded where appropriate. One of the elements of the day that I found most engaging was the discussion-based activities, which is best done without PowerPoint. Everything is licensed as CC-BY unless otherwise noted – so please use, share and remix.

Items on the table

Items on the table

We aimed to encourage a relaxed atmosphere where participants felt comfortable sharing and questioning. Participants were encouraged to come and go as they pleased, take what they wanted off of the tables, draw on the tables and complete a feedback survey to help us improve future sessions. We provided food, which is essential for any full-day conference (and we think it encourages attendance).

Drawings on the table

Drawings on the table


We collected some information through surveys. A preliminary overview is summarized here and will be reflected on in more depth in the future so we can improve the next Open Day delivery. At a glance, participants appreciated definitions, examples, increased awareness of possibilities and the flexibility of open educational resources. They found our stories relatable. It reminded them that as educators “we have the ability to make a difference.” The variety of uses for open education and extent of the possible benefits was described as engaging.

Notes on the whiteboard

Notes were added to the whiteboard throughout the day.

They found that the day was somewhat overwhelming as there was a lot of new content covered in just one day. The technology can be intimidating as software can be difficult to understand. While one participant enjoyed the planned repetition another commented that some of the information was redundant.

Participants were surprised by how many students do not buy textbooks and how many resources are already available for free use. Participants overwhelmingly said they wanted more sessions about open education in the future. They are now looking for more in-depth hands-on information. Specifically, how-to sessions, real-life stories and creating something together was suggested.  One specifically requested that we hold more sessions in the fall about open education. Participants saw a place for open education in their practice and look forward to learning more.




Today I noticed that stories are powerful. Rajiv, Jenni, and Jess have all told pretty impactful stories about why they were drawn to open education. My story has typically started with me as a professional hearing about open education at the Northern Extend institute. However, when I really think about it, the reason I value empowerment, equity and access really goes back way further than that.

I haven’t told my full story in a long time. As a child, I was raised to be frugal and hard-working. Even in grade school, I would rather save my money than buy things that weren’t essential. At age 16 I got pregnant, which means that throughout school taking care of my son was a priority. Having a child while in school posed several challenges. I finished highschool on-time thanks in-part to a virtual option. At that time it meant reading a lot of text on a website and completing tests. Being driven to succeed in school I focused on two things: my son and academic excellence. For me, textbooks were not a barrier to learning because my mom actually taught in the Nursing program at Cambrian that I was taking at Laurentian. She would often be able to get me copies of the books (older editions, but they worked). Just because I could afford books doesn’t mean I didn’t experience financial barriers to learning. I remember how upsetting it was to need to pay for printing and parking because I could not afford it. Thinking back to these experiences really helps to establish a sense of empathy for someone who may have to choose between feeding their child or buying a ridiculously overpriced textbook.

Being a teen mom is difficult. Many people I talked to were impressed that I managed to graduate highschool nevermind finish a Masters. For a long time that reaction of surprise I would get kind of bothered me, but talking about that is a story for another time.

Openness is engrained within me. While in the nursing program I shared everything with everyone in my class. I led several study groups and remember co-creating mock-exams with peers and posting them for everyone in my class. This sharing mindset is something I have always had. To me, it is natural to work together so everyone can be successful. Discovering exactly where this commitment to empowering others began will take further reflection, but it definitely goes back further than I initially thought.


Our tag-team approach to the keynote seemed to be effective because it is more interesting than listening to the same person all day. In the future, there are things I would tweak based on the feedback but the variety was good. This entire day was a team effort.



I got the most out of the interactive portions of the day. Feedback also suggests that interactive discussion is important. Finding ways to build more interactivity into the day is recommended for any conference presentation.



The frustration is real. Something that I didn’t expect to come out of the day was the realization that faculty are frustrated by the limitations placed on them by the LMS. It isn’t just me. They seemed intrigued by the possibilities of using something like Pressbooks or an external website to deliver some components of a course. Innovative ideas like this need further exploration.


What Now?

Exploring the possibilities for open education is part of my new role as Cambrian’s Innovation Champion. We will continue to offer support to faculty through our Hub that wants to explore the world of open education. If you missed it, stay tuned for the recordings from today and future sessions. If you want to chat I would be happy to have a conversation about how we can explore possibilities together. That is what I am here for.

After the keynote, several faculty were buzzing about looking into future funding opportunities from eCampusOntario. There are some really interesting ideas and possibilities out there for exploration. I look forward to finding out what the funding calls will be about soon. Go sign up for eCampusOntario‘s newsletter and keep an eye out if you are also interested.

Tomorrow there is a MOOC starting that faculty were interested in. I will see you in there if you join. It sounds like it will be an excellent introduction to open education.



Today was a big team effort supported by eCampusOntario and a group of advocates at Cambrian College. We are appreciative that Cable Green from Creative Commons was also able to present today. If you are planning an event I suggest reaching out for tips and support from eCampusOnario because they have so much experience talking about the issues in effective and honest ways.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit

1 Comment

Cambrian Open Days: Colleagues and Conversations | eCampusOntario · August 30, 2018 at 9:54 am

[…] and the keynote recording on Cambrian’s Open Day website. A first-hand reflection can be found on a blog post by Laura Killam. eCampusOntario would like to thank the Open Days’ organizing committee, including those […]

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