Open Learning

Some of my colleagues in the Applied Communications department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University have published an “open textbook” for people in our profession.

Student Engagement Activities for Business Communications is a compilation resource for instructors of workplace writing and oral presentations. The activities in this book can add value and energy to the classroom by engaging students in activities that support their learning. Handouts, links, activity variations, and debrief questions are included. …

As business communications instructors at the post-secondary level, we recognize the importance of student engagement and practical application to promote learning. This book is a compilation of activities that we have developed and use in our teaching practice.

Designed for new and experienced instructors, the book is divided by topic, and we have indicated a suggested course level (lower-level or upper-level undergraduate) for each activity. Some activities have handouts attached, or links to external websites.

The text “is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.”

In my years of teaching, I have used textbooks marketed by publishers, custom-created texts I’ve compiled from various sources, and materials I’ve created myself along with stuff my colleagues have let my students and me use – the latter because I wanted to save students money and because free handouts and slides addressed the curriculum sufficiently. I have also coauthored a textbook – one I’ve not, however, used myself in class, its intended audience being engineering students.

I must admit that I am sometimes ambivalent about one or two of the Open Learning movement‘s goals. I’ve been a professional writer, editor, and publisher most of my adult life. I revere publishers and editors and authors. Theirs are not lucrative professions, but I believe they should be paid for their work – a living wage, ideally. Moreover, in my experience the level of care given a published book by a large group of professionals – by authors, editors, marketers, proofreaders, legal staff, fact-checkers, researchers, and art directors – is hard to match using other modes.

That said, even in Canada the cost of postsecondary education is very high. Many students are suffering, having to choose between food and tuition. I know this first-hand. Giving students access to learning is our raison d’être.

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