Epilogue: Our creation journey: a guide for future creators of open educational resources

This textbook was designed to also be a guide on how to collect and present Indigenous stories in a particular area in order to showcase the relationship between Indigenous/non-Indigenous People of that territory. As such, the textbook should appeal to other educators at the post-secondary level who would like to document this relationship within their own curriculum as the stories collected could touch upon commerce, economics, history, geography, medicine, architecture, sociology, education, etc. The following sections detail how the textbook was created and what kind of challenges were experienced.

Chapter Overview

Each chapter consists of the following elements:

Overview: an overview of the topics that will be covered and description of how the information is organized – the overview will be presented in the form of one section of an interactive map highlighting specific points of interest with markers whose colours are associated to the chapters in which they are mentioned. Each marker could be a short video either created specifically for this textbook by Indigenous experts who will share their stories, or by using videos of stories already collected by organizations such as the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation.

Learning outcomes: these outcomes let the students know what they can expect to learn as they progress through each chapter. The learning outcomes are presented in the order in which they will be covered throughout the chapter and are used to help guide the student and allow them to monitor their progress.

Content including a map: the content explains key points and creates links between historical events and how they affected the relationships between Indigenous/non-Indigenous People in the region of Greater Sudbury. The map highlights important events and organizations and provides a visual representation of geographical and societal support.

Learning activities: personal learning activities are spread out throughout the modules. These exercises encourage students to make notes and answer questions on the key topics under discussion. They are for the student’s own learning and are designed to further their learning and to help the student achieve the learning outcomes for each module.

Expanding your knowledge: supplementary resources prompt students to visit further websites or access online readings to support the content of the textbook.

The underlying pedagogy of this open textbook and its accompanying assessments was informed by Wiggins’ (1998) “backwards design.” This design links the learning outcomes of each chapter to corresponding assessments of student understanding, supported by effective, scaffolded learning activities.

Creation of content

The content was created by a team consisting of a content expert, two content peer reviewers, one upper-year undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work and one graduate student in the Master of Indigenous Relations, an instructional designer and an educational technology expert, along with a project manager to ensure that timelines were met, and a librarian familiar with OER creation.

The students were tasked with finding sources of information of the local Indigenous groups – their history, their organizations and mandates, etc. Once these resources were identified and properly labelled, the content expert began the process of writing the chapters by referring to overarching historical events in Canada’s history with Indigenous Peoples and linking them to what was happening in the area of Greater Sudbury at that time. Weekly meetings by the team ensured that everyone was on track and assignments could be given to ensure that content was found as needed. The content was then peer reviewed and edited, and formatted by an instructional designer for the educational technologist to create the necessary pages in Pressbooks. Having the weekly meetings helped to clarify the direction for the students. Through information gathering, the students had to network with agencies in the community, faculty and staff at the University and access resources beyond their own limitations.  There is a greater knowledge that can be accessed when developing those networks and by doing so, create a symbiotic relationship with others in the creation of the open textbook.

The biggest challenge during the content creation was to ensure that if secondary sources were to be used in the open textbook, that proper citations and permission were received. The team found that it was easier to not directly cite secondary sources to ensure that content was easily accessible in the PDF format, and to instead put these resources into the “Expanding your knowledge” sections, where students could continue to explore the supplementary resources.

A further challenge was the fact that a lot of the pre-colonial history of Indigenous Peoples has not been documented in a written form that was readily accessible. Researchers will therefore need to reach out to the Indigenous communities and work together to create this knowledge. For example, the student gathering information about stories specific to Atikameksheng needed to locate the source of information in the community. This meant getting in contact with individuals in the community and asking where information could be found and then seeking permissions (from Chief and Council, Health Directors, etc.) to use the information gathered in this open textbook.

The original timeline of seven months given to produce this open textbook posed some challenges for the team in particular obtaining interviews that contributed to the resources for this textbook. When working with Indigenous communities it takes time to build relationships. Once a resource person had been identified, the student had to make contact with this individual, offer tobacco (this signifies the beginning of a relationship and the acceptance of the tobacco represents a sacred pledge between the individual making the offer and the one accepting the tobacco) and then set aside time to meet face to face with the resource person. One cannot just go into a community and expect that people will share their stories. The person sharing the story needs to know the purpose for which the story will be used and how others will access the story and acknowledge where the story comes from.

Another issue related to accessing new information deals with knowing when to stop. In this open textbook we were dealing with current events and recording of history in real time. For example, the refusal of the Catholic Church to apologize for their role in the Residential School System made for interesting news that was included in this textbook and added to the discussion of the impacts of that system on Indigenous peoples. Given the time frame for completion, it was difficult to decide when to stop collecting current events for inclusion in this open textbook resource.

Interactive map

Within the open textbook itself, each chapter makes use of an  map containing geo-locating tags that have been created, connecting either an important historical location or notable organizations to different areas of the region.

When deciding which map would be best to build the stories into, much consideration had to be taken. Most of the concerns when selecting the platform focused mainly on the ease of use (from a technical perspective), ease of reuse, and the licensing/ownership of the data. The team consulted with a university librarian who has comprehensive knowledge of open data platforms and selected a map based on his suggestion. The specific platform used for creating the map is OpenStreetMap, an editable map that is openly licensed in which editors can freely contribute to map data of the world.

Consideration regarding different coloured tags for different topics or areas of focus has been made and through the use of the map, there is tangibility added to the information via a combination of geo-locating and indigenous storytelling techniques and traditions. This type of map connects the current landscape with indigenous stories of culture, tradition, and history.  When considering a map-based text compared with conventional paper-based or electronic texts, the student experience is transformed through the opportunity of exploration and discovery of the map.  Allowing readers (students) the chance to contextualize their learning with a physical location provides them with the opportunity to build upon pre-existing knowledge and engage with new concepts in order to enhance their knowledge development of the subject matter.

By the end of the textbook, the original map covering the entire area will have been filled with landmarks that offer historical, traditional, and cultural significance to the land encompassing the district of Greater Sudbury and area.

Ease of Reuse

The material s provided as an open textbook, available for direct access by students and instructors, as a web-based resource, and also as downloadable assets versions in PDF, ePub, and other standard file formats. As the content is designed in chapters, users of the contents can mix and match according to their own curriculum, while maintaining the overarching theme of braiding Indigenous/non-Indigenous perspectives.

The content is completely original, with supporting secondary sources and has been made openly available in the eCampusOntario Open Textbook Library by being licensed under the Creative Commons-Attribution NonCommercial license.