Landing : Athabascau University


  • Rory McGreal commented on the blog open textbooks July 19, 2012 - 3:04pm
    An interesting discussion. Of course, "the book that everyone uses" shows a crowd mentality approach which, as Jon points out can lead to mediocrity. But, I understand the problem - it's easier to take what's available and what others are using then...
  • Below is my response to comments made on Margaret Wente's article in the G&M.   Online learning may not replace the paradigm of in person...
  • Rory McGreal commented on the blog Competency and traditional universities July 18, 2012 - 12:53pm
    Degrees of competence is a useful concept. I'd be happy with students achieving more than just competence, but not quite at the near genius level. Besides, if too many achieve whatever level is seen as "genius" then the bar for "genius" would be...
  • Rory McGreal published a blog post open textbooks July 18, 2012 - 12:38pm
    I wish that more instructors would consider cost as part of  quality. Too many just go with the proprietary text (rarely an open text) with little consideration of the price, which can be exorbitant. The cost of a text is one aspect of quality....
    • Jon Dron July 18, 2012 - 4:00pm

      COMP 266, COMP 470, COMP 602, COMP 607, COMP 650. All have additional and dynamic Landing components that are protected by whatever permissions I or the students have given - those can't be shared unless the owners have allowed it. But that's kind of the point, because engagement with a learning community, along with the assessment/feedback process, is one of the main places where we can add value. The versions on the development server are not necessarily identical to those in production - most were tweaked a little bit here and there to add finishing touches when they were put in place - so it would be best to get an archive (not student work or contributions!) from there.


    • Rory McGreal July 19, 2012 - 3:04pm

      An interesting discussion. Of course, "the book that everyone uses" shows a crowd mentality approach which, as Jon points out can lead to mediocrity. But, I understand the problem - it's easier to take what's available and what others are using then no one can criticise the quality.However, as Martin Connors has discovered there are excellent OER available from the top universities and so it would be difficult to criticise them on the quality of the content. has 60 courses as OER fully developed. Nearly all of these have a list of up to five qualified professors who attest to the quality of the course. We can use this material. But, the real arbiter of quality is the professor responsible for the course. They should be able to judge the quality of any materials for their courses. I would just ask that faculty be open minded and at the very least look at available OER in their discipline and know what's available AND that the cost of the mateiral should be one of the criteria for judging quality.

      We do not have a critical mass of open content at AU yet. We do have a repository that Jon has given the link to and we hope to grow it. We also have all our courses on AlFresco, so it should be easier for us to share the material and open it as needed. But we should not be looking at the OER ecosystem as being within AU, but rather worldwide. Some faculty are doing so and making their life easier by adopting OER rather than creating them homegrown.

      All the best


    • Carmen Southgate July 19, 2012 - 4:20pm

      Thanks Rory.  I definitely agree...cost should be considered in the quality judgement. 

      Perhaps whenever a course revision happens, AU's Materials Management could provide the course team members with some cost figures (e.g., total cost of books used for the current version, total shipping costs for current version - since heavier books cost more to ship etc.). 

      I don't know how many professors are even aware of these numbers for their courses. Some comparisons could then be done with enrolments for current version. 

      One point: I think many of the "top universities" you mention are in the US so their OER focus in some disciplines - such as business - may not be as appropriate for Canadian students who take certain types of AU courses to learn about our national context of laws/policies/regulations/perspectives/information. 

      But you've probably heard that concern before and it's certainly NOT a relevant argument for a large number of AU courses.

      However, I will definitely pass along the Saylor resource to our business faculty as I see the economics and business admin course reading lists seem to incorporate readings from various sources including the OUUK - not just American.  Excellent!

      Would you happen to have a list somewhere you could share of Canadian universities that are venturing into OERs?

  • Rory McGreal published a blog post Comments on Globe article about Coursera July 18, 2012 - 8:25am
    The Globe this morning published this article about Coursera a consortium of 11 universities offering onlne Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Note that MOOCs were originally started in Canada by our own George Siemens and a former AU tutor,...
  • Rory McGreal voted on the poll What reference management software do you use? July 17, 2012 - 6:33pm
    • Steve Swettenham February 7, 2013 - 9:52am

      An interesting open-source document management system is Docear ( that blends mindmapping and referencing.

    • Barbie Bruce February 7, 2013 - 10:22am

      I have tried Zotero, EndNote, REfWorks and settled on Mendeley. It is not perfect but it is the closest to how I think about references, and therefore works for me.  Besides, until my thesis is completed I am not changing applications.  There are rumblings that Elsevier is considering buying Mendeley so who knows what I will use in the future. 

    • Anonymous February 3, 2014 - 11:12am

      Use the DocEer system with DocEar4Word Plugin.  Then when you want a citation, just choose "import into BibTex" and then paste the bibtex it into DocEar.  After doing the save-all in DocEar, you will see the references available in Word 2010 under the References Tab.

      Note that after you install DocEar4Word, you might have to restart your computer since you have to completely restart Word (just not close and re-open it, but do an actual close and reopen which is easier to do with a restart).

      To add IEEE, etc. bibliography styles, use the CodePlex BibWord Styles package from and install it in your Word bibliography\styles directory and restart in a similar way as above.   

      After that, it's just a matter of making a new DocEar project and pasting the bibtex xml into it and then adding citations / bibliography in word.  Wish I had known about this three years back when I started my program at Athabasca instead of just learning about this now.  (I used to do citations / bibliographies manually :S )

      And DocEar also lets you quickly make and modify mindmaps which might help in research brainstorming.  

      - Moe

  • ALL The silence  of AUCC is deafening. Has anyone heard from them regarding the Supreme Court (SC) decisions? What do they have to say about their counseling overly restrictive views of fair dealing in their model fair dealing policy...
    • Eric von Stackelberg July 18, 2012 - 11:41am

      This seems much more in line with complying to the Access Copyright agreement than Canadian Copyright law. It will be interesting to see if the AUCC changes it in light of the SC rulings.

  • AU can take pride in being the first Canadian university (and among the first in the world) to approve an open access policy.  But the world has moved on and we need to firm up our policies (and actions) and renew our commitment to open access...
  • Rory McGreal published a blog post California introduces OER Bill SB1052 for Post secondary July 15, 2012 - 9:20pm
    The bill would require the California Open Education Resources Council to determine a list of the 50 most widely taken lower division courses in the public postsecondary segments. The bill would also require the council to review and...
  • Rory McGreal published a blog post Competency and traditional universities July 14, 2012 - 8:56pm
    An interesting article in Higher Ed: Competency Loves Company July 11, 2012 - 3:00am by Steve Kolowich See: Inside...
    • Jon Dron July 15, 2012 - 4:40pm

      This is playing with meanings (and the grammar) of 'competence', I think. If we describe a piece of work as 'competent' it is true that, informally, we might imply that it is no more than adequate. However, most of us working in the area are talking about degrees of competence in a more rigorous way. I've come across competency scales that range from 'knows nothing at all' to 'is world-recognised expert on the subject'. Competence, as used here, is not a fixed baseline of mediocrity but a range of values veering from incompetence/non-competence to creative genius. Most of us in education strive to enable people to achieve the latter, of course, though we are not always sufficiently competent to succeed.

    • Rory McGreal July 18, 2012 - 12:53pm

      Degrees of competence is a useful concept. I'd be happy with students achieving more than just competence, but not quite at the near genius level. Besides, if too many achieve whatever level is seen as "genius" then the bar for "genius" would be raised. It's a moving target.

  • See the article at: My Response You could have added that many if not most of the signing universities did so under duress of timelines and...
  •  Extracts from article: By being adaptable and accessible, OERs have the potential to solve the global education crisis and contribute to sustainable economic growth - if governments are prepared to act ut what crystallised at the Unesco...
  • Rory McGreal published a blog post OER university initiative July 5, 2012 - 6:04am
    The Australian has published a short article profiling OERu network (AU is a member): Online and free, the real education revolution accelerates. (Thanks to Jim Taylor for alerting me to this news item.) Professor Jan Thomas, Vice...
  • Rory McGreal published a blog post C-11 and Fair Dealing July 3, 2012 - 3:50pm
    Faculty neednot worry with the new copyright laws. Fair dealing rights have been expanded to education and the Supreme Court has decided that fair dealing must be given a very broad interpretation. So, when copying - ask yourself two...
    • an unauthenticated user of the Landing July 3, 2012 - 4:54pm

      It might also be important to know that AU has developed a Fair Dealing policy and we are working on a tool to assist with the decisions involved in determining whether a use is fair or not. The draft policy and procedures will go to the Academic Learning Environment Committee for discussion in the fall. In the meantime, if anyone has questions about how to determine fairness, assistance is always availble from Rachel Conroy in the Copyright Office ( or 675-6315).

      - Cindy Ives