Open Up to Open Education at May 6 conference

Open Education Week
Open Education Week

While York University has been formally exploring open education for a couple of years, current pandemic pressures have highlighted how open educational resources (OER) can provide students with access to free, openly licenced course learning materials from the first day of classes.

Will Gage
Will Gage

Join Will Gage, associate vice-president, teaching & learning, and Joy Kirchner, dean of libraries, on May 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. for a non-traditional conference, Open Space for Open Education, to help shape the University’s further engagement with open educational practices and OER.

If you’re not familiar with Open Education, now is a perfect time to get your feet wet. You’ll get a sense of what is already happening with regard to Open Education at York and will be able to explore possibilities for getting involved yourself, either alone or in conjunction with colleagues.

Open education is a pedagogical philosophy that removes access barriers to education. OER are foundational to the open education movement as they use open licences, such as Creative Commons licences, to make educational content freely available for faculty, students, and the public. Open education deconstructs barriers by making educational content readily available to the public and increases opportunities for society to engage in new ways of learning and creating knowledge.

“Open education makes possible the ability to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute content, creating new pedagogical opportunities that are changing the relationship instructors have with teaching and students have with learning,” says Gage.

Joy Kirchner
Joy Kirchner

Under the leadership of Gage, Kirchner and the Open Education Steering Committee, York University is coordinating and promoting the creation, mobilization and discovery of OER produced by the broader York University community. The committee is also investigating avenues towards adopting open and/or affordable course materials to enhance the student experience at York University. Your feedback and perspectives will help inform York’s actions.

“Open education is a gateway to innovative pedagogical opportunities,” says Kirchner. “It provides an avenue to pursue evolutionary teaching practices and reimagined course delivery by making content co-creation possible through open practices, while also creating a pathway for affordable education.”

Of course, there’s no need to take our word for it. Come and discover more about open education and OER for yourself on May 6. You’ll hear briefly from:

  • Sophie Bury, director, Learning Commons and Reference Services;
  • Iris Epstein, assistant professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health;
  • David Gelb, Chair and associate professor, Department of Design, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design;
  • Paul Maharg, distinguished professor of practice, Faculty, Osgoode Hall Law School;
  • Students of Professor Dominique Scheffel-Dunand, Department of French Studies, Faculty of LA&PS.

An Open Space Technology event (sometimes called an unconference) is unlike any meeting you’ve attended previously. Following the presentations from colleagues with experience in open education, the agenda of topics will be co-created by you and the other attendees. You will then be invited to participate in free-flowing discussions. You can virtually wander from one breakout session to another, finding conversations that intrigue you and taking away bits and pieces of various discussions to ponder.

A facilitator will be on hand to guide you through the Open Space experience, allowing you to tailor your exploration to your own needs and interests.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to help create a more inclusive future for education at York. Register now at

If you’re interested in learning more about York’s involvement with open education, check out the recording of the Open Education Steering Committee’s March 25, 2021 event, Exploring Open Education at York University.

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer