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The Learning Portal: Equitable Access To Open Learning Resources

The Learning Portal: Equitable access to open learning resources

Imagine you’re a college student taking an online course or an in-person class. It’s your first class and you’re working on an assignment, but you’ve never done research before and you’re not confident about your writing skills.

Now imagine you’re college faculty. You want to provide your students with research and writing resources, or maybe help students film and edit a video for an upcoming assignment. But you don’t have time to gather all these resources together when you are busy delivering core course content.

Finally, imagine you’re a college library or learning centre employee. You’ve created online tutorials for various topics, but you also notice 12 other colleges have too. You think to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be better to work together instead of reinventing the wheel over and over again?”

This is the impetus for The Learning Portal / Le Portail d’Apprentissage, a collaboration between Ontario college libraries, several Ontario college learning centres and the Ontario College Library Service (OCLS). The project aims to provide easy and equitable access to open learning resources and services for Ontario’s college students, as well as provide a consistent, province-wide academic support platform for faculty to use while designing their courses and assignments. The portal will also support partnerships with OntarioLearn and eCampusOntario.

The Learning Portal envisions an online space that includes direct links to college libraries’ websites, digital resources to support teaching and learning, centralized virtual help, and other resources and tools through six academic hubs:

  • Where Do I Begin?
  • Study Skills: time management, critical reading, note taking and study skills, test and exam taking, and online group work
  • Research: academic integrity, research skills, citation, and copyright
  • Writing: academic and business writing, grammar, and essay construction
  • Math: foundational mathematics skills
  • Digital Literacies: videos, infographics, 3D printing, websites, and presentations

The hubs include multi-modal components to help a student learn a concept or a skill, such as learning modules or tutorials, often comprised of video, text, and self-directed assessments; definitions or glossaries; links to additional materials like worksheets or handouts; and tips for assignment success.

Drawing on the best practices, knowledge, and resources of the Ontario college libraries and learning centres, the Learning Portal is currently being built and developed through staff in-kind contributions, several working committees, and a steering group reporting to the Heads of Libraries and Learning Resources. On December 16, 2016, modules from the Study Skills, Research, Writing, and Digital Literacies hubs and the portal’s YouTube channel were soft launched in order to gather feedback from stakeholders. While many sections are still under development, including modules for math, digital citizenship, citation, and copyright, as well as a faculty toolkit and virtual services, progress is moving along well. The goal is to have the portal completed and ready for launch to students and faculty in September 2017.

Please visit the Learning Portal to see how the project is progressing.

Coralee Leroux is The Learning Portal’s Communications Lead. Currently she is the eResources and Services Coordinator at the Ontario Colleges Library Service (OCLS). She can be reached at cleroux@ocls.ca

Jennifer Peters is The Learning Portal’s project manager. Currently she is the eLearning and Digital Literacies Librarian at Seneca College.

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