Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant Projects

** This grant is offered in partnership between CLT and Dalhousie Libraries through the support of Dalhousie’s Strategic Initiative Funding

Fall 2023 Recipient

Ethical decision-making toolkit for core second-year Biology courses – an OER for teaching applied ethics

Recipients Debra Grantham – University Teaching Fellow (Lead)
Jen Frail-Gauthier - Instructor
Kerrianne Ryan – Instructor (LTA)
Annie Grigg – Student partner
Amount $7000
Abstract Biology is a powerful tool that has an unfortunate history of being misused. Unethical behaviour in the name of scientific exploration is not uncommon, nor is it uncommon for a scientist to inadvertently participate in unethical behaviour. While there are many programs for biomedical ethics and ethical use of human test subjects, ethics in other sciences is typically taught as an optional philosophy course, as is the case at Dalhousie University. Thus, its application can seem remote from the practice of science taught in scientific laboratories. The result is that biology students can complete their undergraduate degree, in some cases an honours thesis with live specimens, without discussing ethics beyond its applications in academic integrity or plagiarism. This project aims to build an integrated OER tool using existing labs as a framework that could then be adapted for broader utilization across disciplines and courses, improving access to applied ethical decision-making information.

Developing an open access limited series health equity podcast

Recipients Dr. Sara Kirk (Project Lead)
Dr. Cecilia Carrea
Joshua Yusuf
Hannah Beveridge (summer student/Research Assistant)
Caitlyn Macrae (Master’s student)
Amount $7000
Abstract The COVID-19 Pandemic necessitated public health measures that had significant impacts on the way we live, work, play, and learn. Higher education adapted to protective measures through the exponential uptake of online learning environments. In 2019, Dalhousie launched its eLearning strategy to guide online learning. Since then, recommendations have been made to “integrate interactive technologies and digital media” into teaching practices. Podcasting, a mobile learning practice, has the potential to enhance student learning, beyond typical eLearning, due to the added freedom of portable devices. The proposed open educational resource (OER) is a limited series podcast exploring health equity. By learning about what health equity is, and investigating how health equity can be applied in clinical practice, research, and policy, students will learn how to understand and enhance health equity in the real world. This project will evaluate podcasting’s’ impact on student learning within the School of Health and Human Performance.


Winter 2023 Recipients

Towards the 4th Edition of the Canadian System of Soil Classification

Recipient Dr. Brandon Heung, Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences
Amount $7000.00
Abstract The Canadian System of Soil Classification (CSSC) provides foundational knowledge on the soil taxonomic system for all soil science students and professionals across Canada. The resource synthesizes over 60 years of knowledge on soil taxonomy and was developed through consultations, scientific consensus, and democratic voting by soil scientists from 1945 to 1992. Through this process, CSSC 1st Ed. was published in 1978; CSSC 2nd Ed. was published in 1987; and CSSC 3rd Ed. was published in 1998. Almost 25 years has passed since the 3rd Edition and scientific discovery since then has necessitated a substantial revision. This project, sponsored by the Pedology Committee of the Canadian Society of Soil Science, will develop a fully open access 4th Edition (English and French), which will be adopted by all soil scientists and students across Canada.


“Modularizing” the OER: Land & Property in Canada’s Political Economy

Recipient Dr. Jamie Baxter, Schulich School of Law
Amount $7000.00
Abstract Research on Open Education Resources (OER) in higher education has proposed that a significant barrier to the peer production, reuse and remixing of OER is a lack of modular design in OER content that enables discrete, small-scale contributions and customizations. This project will undertake the “modularization” of an existing OER used in a first-year property law course at Dalhousie to support real time, in-course learner co-creation and the broader reuse and remixing of the OER by teachers in other property law courses.

Finalizing a Student-Created OER: The Mental Health Promotion Primer


Lead: Taylor G. Hill (PhD candidate and limited term instructor)

Co-lead: Dr Becky Spencer (Senior Instructor)

Amount $3500.60
Abstract Consumers of most existing mental health-related textbooks are clinicians-in-training who need to learn about the services related to mental illness treatment. Recently, a paradigm shift has moved the conversation toward a more upstream promotion approach in which mental health is a resource to be promoted. Mental health promotion (MHP) is an emerging field that aims to better blend the theory and practice of health promotion pertaining to mental health, while filling the gap in allied disciplines that focused on negative mental health of individuals. Therefore, a mismatch exists between the needs of students and the content of existing mental health-related textbooks. This project will entail the latter end of the OER development, focused on moving the OER content from a Word document into Pressbooks, including components of design and reference and figure management, and be equipped tocontribute to the narrative surrounding the paradigm shift.

Summer 2022

Contemporary Leadership Resources

Recipient Dr. Jim Barker, Faculty of Management, Rowe School of Business
Amount $6,950.96

In Open Educational Resource that offers one-stop of contemporary practitioner-minded material, serving as a supplementary source of knowledge for today’s business leaders. Students will experience a useful, accessible, and engaging platform to accompany and support their lessons in a variety of leadership courses.

Serving as an up to the minute resource on current leadership themes and challenges, the OER will provide Faculty of Management and other instructors with a progressive and applicable practitioner knowledge base readily updated. Additionally, this platform supports an e-learning and virtual environment allowing for greater community access. 

The OER sources content from available and relevant creative commons material, as well as appropriately available and accessible other material to create a comprehensive resource on contemporary leadership challenges. Importantly, the OER will provide an extensive glossary of terms; applicable equity, diverse, and inclusive material, along with supporting resources linked to the United Nations – Sustainable Development Goals. 

Navigating Colour Vision Deficiency in Science Education: An Open Educational Resource

Recipient Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, Department of Chemistry
Amount $6990.00
Abstract The first-year chemistry program is the highest enrolled science class at Dalhousie (1000-1500 students every year). The laboratory component for this course is crucial for students to gain hands-on skills required for future classes; however, the laboratory is designed such that the use of full colour vision is required. The global estimates for those who suffer from some form of colour vision deficiency (CVD) is 8.1%, which translates to around 81-105 students in our course. This is the equivalent of two full laboratory sections that are not experiencing the same experiment. To improve the accessibility and equity of our course, we have spent the past several years designing content and adding in supports for those with CVD. Herein we would like to create a book designed to share our expertise in this area of accessibility in the hopes that others will be able to accommodate this into their teaching practices.

Interprofessional Education OER: Design,Delivery and Evaluation

Recipient Dr. Diane MacKenzie, Faculty of Health
Amount $7000.00
Abstract Dalhousie University has a long-standing history of interprofessional education (IPE) and is responsible for training over 20 health professions across three different faculties. The range and depth of health programs is unique in the Canadian context and offers great advantage to designing and delivering IPE across the continuum of care. However, with the large number of programs and varied accreditation standards, it also creates challenges for ensuring supports are in place for faculty development and design guidance so that ‘innovations’ meet best practice standards for IPE and program accreditation. The immediate goal is to develop a Dalhousie OER framework with initial chapters addressing best practice IPE designs, delivery options, and IPE facilitation development. The longer-term goal is to serve as a resource location for educational approaches with associated templates (e.g., from case based through to simulation and practice) for to guide instructor recruitment/developmentthrough to IPE implementation, assessment, and evaluation.

Data Science for Psychology and Neuroscience –In Python: Open Textbook and Videos

Recipient Dr. Aaron Newman, Department of Pyschology
Amount $3931.00
Abstract Research in Neuroscience and Psychology increasingly relies on computer programming (coding) and data science skills at virtually every stage of the process; skills that are also highly marketable among employers. However, such training has not traditionally been taught in undergraduate neuroscience and psychology programs, while introductory courses in computer science are not tailored to the content or specific tasks required for psychology and neuroscience research. To address this gap, I developed the course Neural Data Science for the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. For this I have published a textbook as an OER (, and started producing video walkthroughs of each lesson, published on YouTube. These materials are already being widely accessed by a global audience, with hundreds of views per day. This OER grant will support the completion of these high-quality videos and other polishing to make the material as accessible as possible.

reativity in Introductory Programming Instruction: An Open Curriculum to Facilitate Student 

Transition in CS1Recipient Dr. Eric Poitras, Department of Computer Science
Amount $5896.00
Abstract The key to understanding complex learning in introductory programming lies in our ability to comprehend novice programmer understanding and use of application programming interfaces (APIs). Effective understanding and use of APIs requires knowledge of domain concepts, usage patterns of APIs, and facts about API’s execution to support reasoning about its runtime behavior. This project will introduce high school and undergraduate students to API learning skills in the context of hands-on workshops as well as provide curriculum and professional development for instructors. Students will learn while solving coding challenges pertaining to the visual arts and literacy with Processing as well as programmable games with Robocode. The free curriculum and lesson plans include executable Java code examples and a variety of practice problems with feedback. The resources will benefit ongoing outreach programs as part of the WeAreAllCS initiative of the Faculty of Computer Science.

Reflecting Diversity:An Ongoing Effort to Embed EDIA Perspectives and Voices in an OER Textbook

Recipient Dr. Leanne Stevens, Department of Psychology
Amount $6720.00
Abstract In the spring of 2020, the Open textbook Introduction to Psychology & Neuroscience was  successfully launched at Dalhousie. To date, the use of an open textbook in the Introduction to Psychology & Neuroscience program at Dal, has saved students more than half a million dollars ($500,000). Since its launch, we have sought feedback from students about the usability, quality, and course integration of the book. Based on student feedback, we’ve implemented several large updates to the contents of the book–focusing on content and examples relevant to all students. By working with current and former students, all with diverse lived experiences, we’ve been able to significantly improve the quality of the book we originally started with. We wish to continue this important work, highlighting the voices of the Indigenous community, Black Nova Scotians, and LGBTQIA2S+, through several small ‘projects’ across the full spectrum of course content. These projects also include major revisions to how psychological ‘disorders’ are conceptualized, taught, and discussed.

Creating Accessible Learning Resources: A Practical Guide

Recipient Dr. Ben Tait, School of Health Administration
Amount $3,265.36
Abstract Instructors are increasingly aware of the best practices which would make their teaching and learning resources accessible to the widest possible range of learners, adhering to the principles of Universal Design for Learning. However, whether online, in print, or built into the functionality of common software, guidance on the practical steps which bring a resource up to standard is not always clearly expressed, or time efficient. This resource provides a clear and concise guide to enacting those best practices, taking instructors through step-by-step development processes. Whilst recognising that the work of improving accessibility is an ongoing process, and that we can always do more, the resource is designed to help instructors progress towards a higher standard for their materials, and so for their students. 

OER Guide

Creating Accessible Learning Resources: A Practical Guide

Focus Article

Creating Accessible Learning Resources: Introducing a New OER for Instructors

Fall 2021

Applied Ethics Primer: Responding to Feedback and Lessons Learned

Recipient Dr. Letitia Meynell, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Amount $3,000.91
Abstract In September 2021, we published a complete draft of our Applied Ethics Primer as an OER, This was made possible with support from the Centre for Learning and Teaching. Although we are confident that this text as it stands is complete, competent and, importantly, fills the pedagogical lacuna that inspired it—the lack of a brief, general primer on ethical reasoning and theory that is appropriate for an introductory applied ethics course but is not Eurocentric—there are still some outstanding problems with the primer. With the support of this grant, we hope to complete and polish some of the features of the text that are currently rough and ready, supplement the chapters with appropriate links and references to additional readings, correct some outstanding technical issues, and incorporate feedback from students and professors who have used the text and from expert audiences to which we will present the project.

Leading in Organizational Complexity and Management Skills Development

Recipient Dr. James R. Barker, Faculty of Management, Rowe School of Business
Amount $6,965.62

Today’s business leaders require practitioner-minded, complexity-driven knowledge resources easily and frequently updated. Yet these exceedingly useful resources are rarely available. Given the Rowe School’s MBA’s increasing enrollment and growing demand for local and regional impact, this proposed OER creates new potential for enhanced student engagement and community access to leading management practices.

The proposed OER creates a unique approach for integrating complexity theory with direct managerial applications. The project enhances delivery of multiple business courses within the School’s MBA program, incorporates new virtual student engagement methods, and provides a platform for greater community access.

This OER represents an interactive learning guide serving as both a textbook and a workbook with dynamic multimedia components, student collaboration activities, and content applications. Updated course material includes post-pandemic managerial adaptations; practical management skills to move forward complex initiatives; local community connections; and integrated development of leadership practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Research Data Management in the Canadian Context: A Guide for Practitioners and Learners

Recipients Dr. Mike Smit, Professor, School of Information Management
Lachlan MacLeod, Copyright and Research Data Management Coordinator, Dal Libraries
Amount $6,722.05
Abstract Research Data Management (RDM) has been a topic of growing interest in Canada and internationally. The Tri-Agencies 2021 launch of a national RDM policy highlights the need for RDM training in Canada. Librarian practitioners, LIS/IM students, and researchers are seeking up to date guidance on RDM practices, and instructors are looking for resources to support their teaching. While there are excellent resources in other countries, and Portage Network / Alliance RDM have fact sheets on Canadian resources, there is no guidebook or textbook to introduce learners and practitioners to the art and science of research data management in the Canadian context. This national collaborative project will leverage the expertise of Canadian librarians, data managers, and other experts to provide a comprehensive, bilingual, peer-reviewed academic educational resource. 

Mapping Learning Trajectories in Online Learning Environments: A Learning by Teaching Approach to Address Common Misconceptions in Introductory Programming


Project Lead:
Eric Poitras, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Computer Science

Angela Siegel, Senior Instructor and BACS Program Director, Faculty of Computer Science
Raghav Sampangi, Senior Instructor, Faculty of Computer Science
Alex Brodsky, University Teaching Fellow and Associate Dean of Academics (Acting), Faculty of Computer Science
Stephanie Bernier, Educational Developer,  Faculty of Computer Science

Amount $5,527.27
Abstract Trajectories towards competency in learning how to code must be first documented and then used within online learning environments to promote knowledge transitions. Recent developments in the computer science education research community have heightened the need for online learning environments that leverage curated inventories of common misconceptions that novice programmers have while learning to program. A central research question that the research team will address over the course of this project is how to computationally represent trajectories and transitions through series of units where novice programmers can learn while teaching a pedagogical agent that exhibits common misconceptions. The units were designed to supplement CSCI 1105 Introduction to Computer Programming course content, making explicit misunderstandings of concepts and control flow using virtual agents playing the role of tutee, while students playing the role of tutor learn by teaching the agent who transitions towards a more nuanced understanding.

Information in society: an open textbook

Recipients Dr. Philippe Mongeon, Assistant Professor, School of Information Management, Faculty of Management (Project Lead)
Samantha Taylor, Senior Instructor, Rowe School of Business, Faculty of Management (Co-Applicant)
Amount $6,872.05
Abstract The importance of information in society cannot be understated. Every Fall, a new cohort of students joining Dalhousie's School of Information Management explore the historical, sociological, political, legal and economic dimensions of information in society and their relationship with the information profession. This happens through a daunting dive into a multidisciplinary body of literature without a cohesive educational resource that brings together the different dimensions of the topic in a digestible format adapted to future information professionals trained at Dalhousie and across the globe. This is the gap that this project aims to fill with an open textbook on information in society. The book will provide a valuable educational resource to students at Dalhousie and worldwide and will also exemplify the values and principles of the information professions central to the textbook, the information field, and the kind of knowledge society to which we aspire.

Winter 2021

An Inclusive Applied Ethics Primer: A Global Approach to the Basics of Ethical Thinking

Dr. Letitia Meynell, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Amount: $3,601.09

Project Abstract

Every applied ethics course requires some brief introduction, survey, or primer on ethical theory. At the same time, spending too much time on normative ethical theory can take precious course time away from the applied issues that are the raison d’être of the course. A number of authors have developed ethics primers as part of textbooks but these tend to have two flaws. First, they tend to be specific to their applied ethics subdiscipline. Second, they tend to be Eurocentric.

In this project, I will complete a 20,000-25,000 word Applied Ethics Primer, which takes a global perspective and which could be integrated into any applied ethics course. I plan to publish this online through Dalhousie’s OER. I will also investigate the possibility of developing a companion resource that invites others to share case studies from different applied ethics subdisciplines, in effect, crowd sourcing teaching materials for applied ethics

Research Methods and Evidence-based Practice for Occupational Therapists

Dr. Sorayya Askari, Assistant Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Faulty of Health
Amount: $4,801.46

Project Abstract

The audience of most existing research methodology textbooks are researchers who need to learn about the best study design that can answer their research question and how they can conduct a research study. Occupational Therapy (OT) is a practice-based profession that needs the therapist to engage in evidence-based practice. Therefore, the OT students need to gain skills to be able to locate the relevant evidence, critically appraise them, and inform their clinical practice based on the evidence. Currently, there is a mismatch between the needs of OT students and the content of existing research methods textbooks. The use of non-OT examples and the cost of these textbooks are of main reasons for OT students not to refer to these textbooks. Therefore, the goal of this project is to develop an open educational resource for OT students to serve as the textbook for research courses that can be freely accessed.

Canadian Business Communication for Success

Dr. Linda R. MacDonald, University Teaching Fellow, Rowe School of Business, Faculty of Management
Amount: $4,790.29

Project Abstract

This Business Communication OER prepares Commerce students for the verbal and written communication demands of the workplace. The  OER adapts two existing OERs, one on business communication and one on web literacy. The OER will supplement these works with originally developed material as well as student-written scenarios and writing samples. The new OER will address current issues in business communication including the use of pronouns in business writing, the use of land acknowledgments in presentations, and culturally sensitive vocabulary. The result will be an innovative textbook that addresses modern communication forms, practices inclusivity, incorporates the essential skills of web literacy, benefits from the experience of students in the field, and situates the work in a Canadian context.

Canadian Legal Research Skills: A Practical Approach

Hannah Steeves, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Sir James Dunn Law Library, Schulich School of Law
Amount: $4,900.84

Project Abstract

The Canadian Legal Research Skills: A Practical Approach addresses the foundational knowledge and practical skills required to conduct comprehensive legal research in the Canadian context. The subject matter includes a broad overview of the Canadian legal system, sources of Canadian law, the legal research process, and legal information literacy. The content is ideal for individuals who are new to legal research and educators in a variety of disciplines and settings. This Open Educational Resources (OER) includes embedded interactive and visual components such as practice questions, quizzes, and charts. As the body of common law evolves and secondary sources adapt to the digital environment, Canadian Legal Research Skills serves as an openly available and interactive “living” option in a constantly changing legal landscape. Canadian Legal Research Skills is updated regularly and is distributed using the Creative Commons Attributions ShareAlike 4.0 License.

Canadianization and Indigenization of Introduction to Psychology and Neuroscience

Dr. Leanne Stevens, University Teaching, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, Faculty of Science Fellow
Dr. Jennifer Stamp, University Teaching Fellow, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, Faculty of Science
Amount: $1,920.58

Project Abstract

In the spring of 2020, the Open textbook Introduction to Psychology & Neuroscience was successfully launched at Dalhousie. To date, the use of an open textbook in the Introduction to Psychology & Neuroscience program at Dal, has saved students more than $150,000 (approx.). Since its launch, we have sought feedback from students about the usability, quality, and course integration of the book. From student feedback, one area of concern has been repeatedly mentioned – the need for Canadian-centric examples and content. The current project aims to update and edit our textbook to include Canadian examples, contributions, and perspectives. Importantly, Indigenous voices have historically been absent from many Canadian Introduction to Psychology texts. We hope to (1) prioritize highlighting the contributions of Indigenous Peoples (specifically in Canada) in the fields of Psychology and Neuroscience, and (2) acknowledge injustices committed against Indigenous Peoples, within the context of the content covered in an Introductory course.