Development Projects

Master of Conservation Leadership Program 

In collaboration with the Department of Geography, Environment & Geomatics, the Master of Conservation Leadership program was designed to meet the needs of the conservation sector. This program emphasizes innovative conservation practice including Indigenous-led conservation governance, partnership engagement, and private and working lands conservation. The innovative program combines short intensive residentials with field-based learning, fully-online courses, and a final learning portfolio that helps address a real-world conservation challenge. 

The Master of Conservation Leadership program launched in Summer 2020.

Campus Support Modules

We worked with a number of departments on campus to develop training modules for the campus:

  • Sexual Violence Support Module - A module developed for first-year students to learn more about how to practice consent, access resources on campus, support survivors, and help keep each other safe.
  • Principles of Belonging: Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism (developed in collaboration with Diversity and Human Rights) - This module introduces core principles that can be used to foster more inclusive spaces and create a culture of belonging for all campus community members. The module is mandatory for new incoming students, and available to all students, faculty and staff.

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Work-Integrated Learning: Instructional and Technical Support Co-op Students

In Summer 2020, the Distance Education (DE) unit of OpenEd hired seven instructional and technical support students to assist with fully-online course development and quality assurance projects and tasks in preparation for the Fall 2020 semester. Students assisted with developing content for learners on the Remote Teaching & Learning site, building training resources related to online facilitation, and assisting with storyboarding and editing documents. 

In Fall 2020, two of the seven co-op students stayed on for a second term, assisting with a variety of projects and tasks, including developing resource on alternative assessment. 

In collaboration with Teaching & Learning Technologies (TLT) and the Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL), the DE team developed new micro-certification: Fundamentals in Course Redesign and Remote Pedagogy. This learning opportunity is designed for U of G co-op students with a goal to assist administrators and instructors with remote course design and delivery.

Students received a digital badge in Course Redesign and Remote Pedagogy upon successfully meeting the criteria for a video reflection submission of their workplace experience. 

The following results were achieved:

  • 46 co-op students completed this micro-certification in 2020.
  • Students were trained in topics such as universal design, learning taxonomies, constructive alignment, copyright laws and best practices, and making documents accessible.
  • OpenEd hosted specialized training sessions for DE coop students in image editing, storyboarding, and accessible practices.

University of Guelph-Humber Orientation Module 

In consultation with the Guelph-Humber program heads and senior administrators, we developed a new Guelph-Humber orientation site to help students adjust to remote learning. 

CourseLink Orientation Materials for Remote Learners

We revised our existing DE orientation support materials and geared them specifically toward remote learners. This resource was linked to from the Guelph-Humber orientation site and was made available for University of Guelph remote instructors to add to their course sites via the Remote Teaching & Learning website.  

O-Week Presentation – Learning by DE 

ShapeWe delivered the Learning by DE workshop for students as a Teams Live event during O-Week. This session worked to define and demystify the terminology such as online and remote, and to distinguish what makes DE courses at U of G great. The session outlines what students know as new online learners in terms of their responsibilities and some best practices they can employ to effectively manage their time and use technologies. 

  • ~ 200 attendees (227 at the peak of the session) 

Faculty Support Projects

Maintaining Online Courses: Facilitating Flexibility and Quality Through Instructor Edit Access 

OpenEd invested in i:Create, a content management system (CMS) that works seamlessly with CourseLink. The CMS enables instructors to make text edits on the content pages of courses without the intervention of the Distance Education team. This easy-to-use system does not require knowledge of HTML or CSS. Pages display as they do in the CourseLink environment and edits can be made using a simple text editor.  

OpenEd piloted i:Create as a flexible option for online U of G instructors to create efficiencies in semester preparation. Over 60 instructors were involved in the 2020 pilot. 

  • Summer 2020 Pilot - 8 courses (participation by invite; 15 invited) 
  • Fall 2020 - 63 DE sections with 56 instructors (optional participation)  
  • Fall 2020 - i:Create training webinar and new resource website  
  • Fall 2020 - online survey, 2 focus groups, and several one-to-one feedback interviews 

Overall feedback indicated that instructors wanted to continue to use to the tool, as it saved them time and provided flexibility. 

RAPID Online Course Development

With Fall 2020 courses being offered in an alternate delivery format, we supported a number of departments in moving courses to fully-online delivery. Course development timelines were short (four months), so it was essential to find efficiencies to ensure courses were delivered on time. 

  • The RAPID Course Development resource website was developed to support our accelerated development projects.
  • 11 RAPID course developments were completed in 2020. 

Facilitating Online Courses - Virtual Training 

In the past, the OpenEd team offered an in-person session on facilitating an online course: Effective Distance Education Course Facilitation: Challenges and Solutions. This session was held at the beginning of the semester to coincide with faculty schedules. Though facilitation skills are essential to online courses, participation in these sessions was low and we had plans to redevelop the programThe pandemic provided the opportunity to pivot to an online session, which was well received.  

  • In partnership with an ITS in TLT, the session was redeveloped to be two sessions for Fall 2020, in an effort to support new online instructors and more seasoned instructors:
    • Distance Education Course Facilitation Workshop I: Course Tools and Facilitation Best Practices
    • Distance Education Course Facilitation Workshop II - Advanced CourseLink Tools and Facilitation Strategies
  • We have seen a sharp increase in session participation - from 14 participants in W20 to 49 in Session I and 50 in Session II, for a total of 99 participants in Fall 2020.
  • Faculty, instructors and Teaching Assistants were welcome to attend.
  • In June, we ran Part I of our training specifically for CE instructors and peer helpers.
  • In August, we ran Part I of our training specifically for Guelph-Humber instructors. 

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New Course & Module Developments
New Course and Module Developments per Semester for 2020
Semester DE CE U-GH Executive Modules Blended Total
W20 1 1 1 0 1 0 4
S20 4 2 4 0 0 0 10
F20 3 (+1 RES) 1 3 0 2 0 9 (+ 1 RES)
F20 RAPID 3 0 7 0 0 3 13
Total 11 (+1 RES) 4 15 0 3 3  

RES = Residential offering

Course & Module Redevelopments 
Course and Module Redevelopments per Semester for 2020
Semester DE CE U-GH Executive Modules Total
W20 3 5 0 1 0 9
S20 5 4 0 0 0 9
F20 3 5 0 0 0 8
F20 RAPID 1 0 0 0 0 1
Total 12 14 0 0    
Course Maintenance 
Courses and Modules Maintained per Semester for 2020
Semester DE CE U-GH Executive Modules Total
W20 79 25 23 7 13 147
S20 66 19 26 10 11 132
F20 95 4 31 11 15 172
Total 240 64 80 32 39  

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Opening quotation marks.  OpenEd has always been a pleasure to work with. I have developed many courses alongside their staff and the process has always been enjoyable. They are always helpful and creative in developing courses that present the curriculum in an engaging and responsive way.

Everything they do is with the student's best interest and program quality in mind. Although developing a course is an extensive process, I have always enjoyed the experience because I am supported and I learn something new each time. Closing quotation marks.

Dr. Elena Merenda | Assistant Program Head, Early Childhood Studies, University of Guelph-Humber 

Opening quotation marks.  Working with OpenEd is always a pleasure, and it's rewarding to teach a course after developing it. The expertise in course design and distance education principles demonstrated by everyone I've worked with means that I can focus on creating the content while knowing that the end product will be a success. I'm not the most technologically-savvy person, so I appreciate the constant and high level of support provided by OpenEd during the design and creation of a course and also when I'm teaching it. In particular, the genuinely collaborative nature of the working relationship stands out as a key strength of OpenEd. Great people, great work, and great support! Closing quotation marks.

Dr. Natalie Evans | Sessional Instructor, University of Guelph & University of Guelph-Humber

Opening quotation marks.  Working with the OpenEd team on the development of our online micro-certification course has been the perfect partnership. Their creativity, technological knowhow, attention to detail and educational development skills helped us turn our content into an engaging, interactive learning experience that has totally exceeded our expectations. Closing quotation marks.

Lynne Mitchell | Director & International Liaison Officer, Centre for International Programs

Opening quotation marks.  My first experience of developing a distance education course, on the history of Canada and the Second World War, was an extremely positive one. The development specialist that I worked with, Megan Pickard, readily grasped what I hoped to do with this course in terms of its objectives, structure, and assignments and was invaluable in helping me navigate through the various stages of the course’s development. She was fantastic throughout the process, always prompt in her replies to me, and very helpful in helping me work through a couple of the key issues we needed to decide on. We were able to design a course with some flexibility in the assignment structure for the students, which they ended up greatly appreciating. While I’d had some concerns about how difficult it would be to so explicitly spell out objectives for every unit, and to be more transparent with the grading rubrics than I have been in my in-class teaching, it proved to be a much smoother process than I’d feared, and we were able to articulate grading expectations that were well-suited to a humanities approach to assessment. All of the permissions and accessibility issues were handled effectively by the support team, and I was very happy with how quickly they updated the course website once it was live, when we needed to make minor changes.

I really appreciated that I was able to develop a course that reflected my own approach to teaching and learning, and did not feel like I was having external models of how things should be done imposed on me. At the same time, I found some of the tools that came from OpenEd’s approach to be quite useful, and plan to incorporate them into my other teaching. The first offering of the course went very smoothly, and was much more enjoyable than I had anticipated, to the point that I’m considering developing another DE course in the future. Closing quotation marks.

Dr. Matthew Hayday | Professor, Department of History 

Opening quotation marks.  I have been involved in several OpenEd development projects in the recent past.  Some were routine updates of courses already developed, and which I had already taught. Some were as the administrator responsible for delivery of courses under redevelopment. In one case, I was personally involved as the instructor on a new DE course under initial development.  

I was fairly set in my ways—I knew what was comfortable for me as an instructor and what worked for me as a learner.  OpenEd introduced me to other methods, and their support alleviated my concerns about redevelopment workload—the idea of having to start from scratch.  OpenEd provided a support service that permitted me, and my instructors, to concentrate on content, while they concentrated on suggestions to deliver that content.  

I did not always initially concur with some of the DE approaches, but as OpenEd was working from international rubrics for leading edge DE delivery, I accepted their recommendations.  I am very glad I did so. The greatest learning for me was hearing from students about how they appreciated some of the very methods I had initially disliked. Students were more engaged, and learned better (according to them).  As a result, I am much more open to new delivery ideas, and to ensuring that I do not just address my own learning style—but those of a range of students.

Working with OpenEd is a great experience—from the in-depth level of support, and the collegial attitudes, to their expertise in DE delivery.  I am very glad they are there to support us, and will use them willingly at any time. Two thumbs up! Closing quotation marks.

Dr. Glenn Hanna | Assistant Program Head, Justice Studies, University of Guelph-Humber 

Opening quotation marks.  I had successfully applied for the Distance Education Development Fund in 2019 to create a new first-year DE course in international development studies. It felt like a daunting task, because the course I had in mind is designed to be highly interactive and combines a variety of assessment methods to effectively reach different types of learners.

I collaborated closely with a distance learning program development specialist over the course of a year, and it turned out to be one of the most productive and rewarding experiences in my professional career so far. I could fully focus on polishing the course content, while my partner at OpenEd made sure that we stuck to our timelines and provided constructive input along the way. She coordinated our collaborations with various teams, including the eLearning technology assistant, who programmed our elaborate websites, the multimedia coordinator and his assistant, who helped me produce high-quality video clips for my lectures, and the copyright coordinator, who ensured access to the learning material from a variety of media sources.

I am incredibly proud of what we achieved—especially because the COVID-19 shutdown required us all to make unexpected adjustments, but never slowed us down, thanks to everyone's dedication and the effective teamwork. Closing quotation marks.

Dr. Steffi Hamann | Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science 

Opening quotation marks.  The online quality assurance specialist (QA) and the distance learning specialist (DLS) simultaneously acted as both coaches and collaborators in the revamping of a DE course that I recently took over. They added value in many ways, some of which I highlight below: 

  • They helped me to set realistic course development goals and stay on track as the course start date approached.
  • By asking questions and providing me with a sounding board, they ensured that course activities and resources were always intentional and tightly tied to the learning outcomes.
  • They offered a plethora of suggestions to optimize the course infrastructure. The result was a predictable, smooth interface for students, efficient structures for marking, and resources that were built with accessibility-compliance in mind. I look forward to incorporating additional suggestions in future offerings.
  • They were unfailingly professional and empathetic.  Every commitment made was fulfilled.
  • They were supportive as the revamped course was rolled out, quickly advising on and adjusting for glitches and complications I hadn’t foreseen. 

It was truly a pleasure working with the QA and the DLS.  I cannot recommend them highly enough. Closing quotation marks.

Sandra Scott | Associate Professor, Department of Management