Free Range Edtech

Examples of open education practices enabled by OpenETC infrastructure

For some time I’ve been wanting to share some examples of what open education practices (OEP) enabled by open ed tech looks like in practice.  OpenETC provides open ed tech infrastructure to the BC higher ed sector in the form of 3 types of services:  WordPress, Mattermost, and Sandstorm click and go apps.  The most visible examples of OEP are in the WordPress part of OpenETC, since Mattermost (open source Slack) is a more private class or group space, and Sandstorm uses-in-practice aren’t visible to us as administrators. So this is a round-up of a selection of uses of WordPress in OpenETC.

WordPress E-portfolios

Last year, the biggest uptake for OpenETC was in the area of WordPress for e-portfolios. OpenETC provided a couple of templates for e-portfolios that could be cloned with one click, making it easier to get up and running.  KPU was the first to go down this path and we worked with some faculty and a student who also created some onboarding documentation that is now part of the OpenETC resources.  The impact of the WP e-portfolio approach was shared at ETUG in 2019 by Anne Marie McClellan and student Anthony Radjkovich. Since then e-portfolios have been popping up at other institutions.

Simple course sites – course supplement, showcase student work, alternative to content in the LMS

An obvious use of WordPress is for simple course sites to supplement a face to face course, or to replace what would normally be tucked into an LMS.

One of my favourite examples that I like to share that really underscores the Open ed tech for OEP connection is this example from UNBC.  The community news write-up provides the context, and the course site is a rich resource of the community-based research and artefact collection that students undertook.  has

  • Showcases the work of students in TRU Law’s Animals and the Law class
  • If a course was a podcast, this simple site would be that. You won’t find text here, just audio.
  • This Capilano University course site for a course on Electronic Literature also connects students to the LMS, probably for the assignment dropbox)
  • There’s also a nice collection of English course sites from UNBC from one prof who wanted a space outside of the LMS and found OpenETC easy to use.;;;

Education-related Websites

Douglas College gets meta and uses openETC to create its Open at Douglas site

A paper published by a UNBC Physics instructor needed a website to accompany a paper presentation at a conference and this site was created as the ancillary resource for the paper presentation

An intriguing site from a UFV history professor that reads like a book

This beautiful site from Jason Toal at SFU is a self-contained resource on how to Teach Visually


From Camosun, a workshop on the ethical dimensions of ed tech

An H5P Studio from UBC The linear structure of this template navigates really well.

Mattermost + WordPress

In my mind WordPress  (for course content) combined with Mattermost (for communication and activities) is a powerful and simple combination for online teaching. But what do students think?

UNBC’s English 201 was taught by Grant Potter (a co-founder of OpenETC).  “I used Mattermost in 2018 and 2019 with my Digital Humanities course.  Didn’t receive a single email the entire course, students 100% preferred the Mattermost space … it was where they shared links to work on their sites, asked questions, and connected with each other.”

At Camosun, the teaching and learning centre is using WordPress for their eLearning Blog, tutorial site, and soon to be built out asynchronous workshop site:, They will also soon be using Mattermost to support their new Teaching and Learning council to have between meeting conversation and collaborations.


I get really excited about SPLOTS because they are truly a minimal effort WordPress template that makes it easy for students to contribute without giving up their personal information. The SPLOT examples in OpenETC are mainly text-based, but the SPLOT family also includes an image-based template (great for more visually-oriented courses) and a new audio version that allows you to record audio directly in the SPLOT! I can’t wait to see what educators do with that one.


Code of Conduct and Terms of Use

A few weeks ago we posted a draft Code of Conduct for users of the OpenETC. We asked for your feedback on the draft code and received a number of excellent suggestions on the draft. We gathered your responses as annotations via Hypothesis and as comments posted to our draft Etherpad document.

From your comments, we have made the following changes;

  • Split the Code of Conduct into 2 separate documents; a Code of Conduct and Terms of Use document to better reflect the intent of the content.
  • Added contact forms to each of the documents to enable people to contact someone on the OpenETC administrative team with questions or comments.
  • Clarified the Terms of Use language to remove the word “blasphemous” from the Limitations on Content section of the Terms of Use guidelines.
  • Explicitly noted what OpenETC applications and services the code and terms apply to.

We have posted a revised Code of Conduct and a new Terms of Use document that applies to the three main services offered by the OpenETC, WordPress, Mattermost, and Sandstorm.

We will continue to revise these documents as required and make you aware of changes as the services of the OpenETC evolve.

Thank you for your feedback and being active members of the OpenETC community.

Thank you for your feedback on the proposed Code of Conduct

Thank you to everyone who commented on the proposed OpenETC Code of Conduct. We are reviewing the suggestions and are revising based on your feedback, which included the suggestion to break the Code of Conduct into a Code of Conduct document and a Terms of Use document.

A number of you also suggested some existing Codes of Conduct that we could look to build on which is an excellent suggestion. We are currently reviewing a number of other Codes of Conduct for online communities and hope to incorporate some of those into our second draft Code of Conduct.

For the time being, we have removed the draft Code of Conduct from the site while we revise it.

Thanks again for providing input.

Looking for community feedback on Code of Conduct

Two goals the OpenETC stewardship team are working towards in 2020 is to begin formalizing some processes and guidelines for educators and students interested in using the services of the OpenETC community, and to provide more pathways of engagement with the openETC for community members. High on our to-do list for this year are the development of governance documents, like privacy policies and a code of conduct.

In that spirit, the OpenETC stewardship group is looking for community feedback on a proposed Code of Conduct. When completed, this Code of Conduct will apply to users of any of the platforms or tools supplied by the OpenETC. We have posted a draft Code of Conduct that we would like your feedback on.

To enable your feedback, we have activated Hypothesis on the page, which will give you the ability to highlight and annotate specific sections of the code you may have questions or comments about.

A draft privacy policy is in the works and will be released in the coming weeks for your input.

While these types of governance documents can be dry reading, they are important in helping to define what kind of community we want to work towards developing.

Thanks, in advance, for your comments and feedback, and for working with us to make the OpenETC a valuable and respectful educational community.

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