The Open Case Studies project at UBC brings together faculty and students from different disciplines to write, edit, and learn with case studies that are free and open--they are publicly available free of cost, and they are licensed to allow others to revise and reuse them. The project began with a focus on case studies related to topics in environmental sustainability, but has expanded to include case studies on other topics as well.
We're looking to expand the number of case studies included in the collection. If you might be interested, please get in touch!
History and People
The project was started in 2015 by Daniel Munro, an undergraduate student at UBC at the time who was the Associate VP Academic & University Affairs, UBC Alma Mater Society (undergraduate student society). He and Christina Hendricks (Professor of Teaching, Philosophy, UBC) received a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant from UBC in the Spring of 2016. That grant provided funding for:
- A two-day sprint in May 2016, during which faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, a librarian, and staff at the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology put together the first case studies in the collection.
- Hiring two graduate assistants to work with instructors at UBC, in order to help them incorporate the case studies into their courses. You can see what instructors have done so far with the case studies, and get ideas for how you might use them, in the Teaching Guide. For 2016-217, our two graduate assistants are Michelle Hak Hepburn from Anthropology and Jennifer Mansour from Educational Studies.
There are many other people involved in the project as well.
The Open Case Studies project has the following objectives.
Increasing the number of case studies available for students to use in courses
Learning with case studies is common in many disciplines, and we hope that these case studies will be useful in multiple courses at UBC (and beyond). Most of our case studies focus on topics in sustainability, though our project is open to anyone who would like to contribute case studies on other topics as well.
Increasing the number of Open Educational Resources at UBC
The original creators of this project wanted to expand the use and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER) at UBC. OER are teaching and learning resources that are free to access, and licensed to allow other to reuse and revise them to better fit their own teaching and learning needs. Please see our OER guide for more information on open educational resources.
The open case studies on this site are licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution license, so that anyone may re-use them for any purpose, so long as the original source is attributed. We hope that they will be used not just at UBC, but also in other educational contexts as well. We've provided a guide with technical information on how to access the original wiki content for the case studies and either embed it into another website or create a PDF from it. Currently, the case studies can only be edited by faculty, staff and students at UBC (because they are the UBC Wiki, which restricts editing access to those groups), but you could copy and paste the case information from the wiki and revise it for another context.
Students contributing to public knowledge
We are interested in finding ways for students to contribute to the creation of OER, to contribute to public knowledge, and to do work in courses that has a larger impact than just being done for a grade in a course. In this we are guided by treating students as producers of knowledge, rather than only as consumers (see, e.g., Neary and Winn, 2009; Bruff, 2013). We are reducing reliance on "disposable assignments" that get submitted to instructors and then thrown away, and increasing the number of "renewable assignments"--where students' work has value beyond the course and can be reused and revised by others. David Wiley defines "disposable assignments" as:
- "assignments that students complain about doing and faculty complain about grading. They’re assignments that add no value to the world – after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away. Not only do these assignments add no value to the world, they actually suck value out of the world."
When students contribute to, revise, or create new open case studies, their work does add value to the world--it helps other students and faculty in their course, students and faculty in other courses, and the general public who can benefit from the information in the case studies. In addition, since these cases are openly licensed, they can be revised and reused by others, making them renewable rather than disposable. See this article for more on disposable vs. renewable assignments.
Promoting interdisciplinary approaches and activities
Students and faculty may work within disciplinary boundaries in their courses, but many pressing social, ethical and political problems are better addressed through multiple disciplinary lenses. While these case studies are being written, revised and discussed in particular courses that may be bounded by discipline, we are very interested in finding ways for students and faculty to work with the case studies across disciplines. Some possible ways to do so that we are considering:
- Include sections in each case study where those from another discipline could say what sorts of things they would focus on in that case (we already have a couple of cases with this kind of section at the end)
- Have students collaborate between two classes, from two different disciplines, to write or edit case studies
- Ask students from one discipline to look at a case written by someone from a different discipline, and discuss how information from the other discipline affects their own approach to the issues
- What else? We'd love to work with you to get ideas!
This project has been funded by UBC students, through the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (2016). In addition, the website for the project has been funded by the the BCcampus Open Educational Resources grants program. We are grateful to all who have made this project possible!
Neary, M., & Winn, J. (2009). The student as producer: reinventing the student experience in higher education. In The Future of Higher Education: Policy, Pedagogy and the Student Experience.". London, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group. Retrieved from http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/1675/
Bruff, D. (2013, September 3). Students as Producers: An Introduction [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2013/09/students-as-producers-an-introduction/