9 Openness as Default: Open Education Practices Through Scholarship, Teaching, and Service

Michael Paskevicius

Case study writer: Dr. Michael Paskevicius, Assistant Professor of Educational Technology, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education

Institution: University of Victoria

Type of intervention: In this case study, I will advocate for the inclusion of open education as a criterion for tenure and promotion and document my own journey to connect openness to a formal tenure evaluation.


The University of Victoria is a public research university located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The university is located on the traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples and the Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. The university has over 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students, is top ranked among Canadian comprehensive universities for preparing career-ready students, and is consistently highly rated in North America for international research collaboration.

The University Libraries have a commitment to open access publishing and scholarship with support and guidance offered by our Office of Scholarly Communication. Additionally, the Office of Scholarly Communication partners with the Teaching Support and Innovation Centre to promote and support the development of open education through an Open Educational Resource Grant offered since 2019. The first round of this grant came with significant support from our undergraduate student union, which funded 50 percent of the total funded projects. More recently, the institution approved a project to develop an Open Hub for the university. The goal of this project is to acknowledge and celebrate open education initiatives across campus, engage students as future open scholars, and grow the culture of openness at the University of Victoria.

I started working at the university as an assistant professor in 2019 after working for many years as an educational developer and completing my PhD in Educational Technology. Joining a diverse department of faculty members engaged in educational research around art, curriculum studies, drama, literacy, math, music, science, social science, and educational technology, the notion and recognition of scholarship within the department is wide-ranging and inclusive.

To attain tenure and promotion from assistant to associate professor, faculty members must demonstrate that their teaching effectiveness and their scholarly activity meet or exceed the standards for the rank established by the faculty evaluation policy, the standard for the department in which the applicant holds an appointment, and the collective agreement negotiated by the Faculty Association. The expectation for professional activity typically follows a 40-40-20 time allocation, with 40 percent of a faculty member’s time dedicated to research and scholarship, 40 percent toward teaching and graduate student support, and 20 percent toward service to the faculty member’s department, faculty, wider university, and community.


As an early career, tenure-track faculty member working within the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria, I hope to both meet the criteria in attaining tenure and promotion while also promoting open education and connecting the principles of openness that I practice in my teaching and scholarship to the performance criteria identified in our tenure review policy. These connections to open education have not yet been formally established in our evaluation policy, which identifies teaching effectiveness, scholarly and professional contributions, service, and other contributions as measures of performance. I have taken a broad perspective on open education engagement that includes openness in scholarly activities, the development of open teaching activities and resources, as well as considering ways to bring openness into service where possible.

I do believe there are linkages to be made between these open educational practices and both the tenure evaluation criteria as well as the broader mission vision and values documented in our university strategic framework document. In particular, our strategic framework calls attention to advancing research excellence and impact as well as engaging locally and globally with communities through knowledge mobilization. I believe that engagement with open education serves these broader objectives through the wider dissemination of research made available through open publication and ensuring greater access to learning and knowledge generated at the university by making academic research and teaching materials accessible.

In engaging with open scholarship, I seek to ensure the research I publish is shared via open access publications. While tempted to seek the prestige of high-impact-factor closed access journals, I have been encouraged and mentored by colleagues who have made the case for publishing open access. Particularly in the field of educational technology, where we study the potential for technology to enhance access and quality of educational outcomes, publication by open access makes a great deal of sense. As well, in the field of educational technology, we are fortunate to have many high-quality and widely read open access journals. Fortunately, in 2019, the Faculty of Education adopted an open access policy that promotes and supports scholars who choose to publish openly, of which I was involved with creating. Importantly, publishing in this way has the potential to model to our students the values and possibilities enabled through open scholarship. This is even more important in our work with graduate students; the future academics, educators, and leaders who will carry the torch onto the next generation.

With an increase in the need for sharing of open data, I also shared two open data sets with support from our data curation librarian. Sharing of open research data strengthens the research communities’ collective capacity to meet scholarly standards of openness by providing opportunities to further analyze, replicate, verify, and refine research findings is rapidly becoming an expectation for SSHRC or Tri-Agencies funded research (Government of Canada, 2012). While it is not clear that such a scholarly output is officially recognized in the tenure process, I believe it makes a significant contribution to scholarship, may increase validity through replication, and can also serve as a useful resource for graduate students who may want to use open data to develop their own research ability. One might look to further sharing artifacts of the research process that may support graduate students and emerging researchers, such as proposals, budgets, plans, ethics applications, research instruments, and so on. At this time, our policy does not.

With regard to teaching materials, some faculty members in my department have, for a long time, practiced openness in sharing teaching artifacts. Rather than accepting the default of using the institutional learning management system, we maintain an open access WordPress site for each of our courses on which we share the learning resources that support our teaching using Creative Commons licenses. While it is important to reference one’s local institutional policy on the sharing of teaching materials, in our context, I believe this serves several important purposes. First, students who take these courses maintain persistent access to their learning materials that can be easily found online, are searchable, and reusable. Second, these resources are available to both credit and noncredit learners, as well as to other educators who might want to integrate or remix them for their own teaching needs. Third, these WordPress course sites are used by several faculty members and adjunct instructors at the university who curate, update, and further develop the resource base. This has led to much collaboration and cross-pollination between faculty and adjuncts and ensures the resources are maintained and developed over time. While we have yet to conduct research on this approach, I do believe this has resulted in an improvement in the quality of teaching throughout these courses and at a minimum has led to more consistent and continuously improved design. One downside of this approach is that we are not publishing discrete OERs that could be more easily counted for merit but rather maintaining a collection of OER with ongoing updates and enhancements.

Contributions to service may be more challenging to connect to open education when developing one’s tenure package. I do believe that maintaining a highly visible academic profile online and sharing both teaching materials and research openly helps create opportunities for external service. On internal committees, one may draw from, revise, or create OER in service to the academic unit or school. One may also encourage and assist in making the work of committees more visible by sharing outputs, maintaining websites, or engaging in other forms of open scholarship, thereby capturing the work done by committees.


While I have not officially submitted for tenure just yet, I am preparing my submission as I continue my work practicing open scholarship. I have found success in being reappointed to the department, a milestone toward achieving tenure, and used similar language as above to explain the value of openness in research, teaching, and service. The committee that reviewed my reappointment package did note in their feedback that the commitment to open access was considered noteworthy. My tenure application will contain references to the work done to advance open education in my scholarship, teaching, and service. This will be communicated by explicitly stating a commitment to open access publishing, the use and development of OER as part of my teaching, the use of open educational practices, and a commitment to further developing openness in service roles by leveraging open practices and transparency.

One area of tenure criteria that has traditionally been more challenging to demonstrate is that of teaching effectiveness. Teaching effectiveness is often demonstrated through a teaching portfolio, student experience survey data, peer reviews of teaching, and engagement in professional development activities. In my experience, teaching materials have been undervalued, and I believe they should be showcased, celebrated, and shared. Engagement with open education and visible outputs of teaching materials shared as OER may be a valuable addition to a teaching portfolio and better demonstrate a commitment to developing teaching and the requisite teaching materials.

Being that specific tenure criteria define what is valued in the academy related to scholarship, teaching, and service, it would be wise to include aspects of open education, if that aligns with what is valued institutionally. Leadership is necessary to help align the mission, vision, and values of the institution to the desired actions and activities of faculty members. After all, early career faculty pay close attention to tenure criteria as they strive toward this important goal in one’s academic career. I believe that recognizing open educational practices more concretely could close the gap between institutional goals and the tangible actions of faculty members.

In my experience, most academics desire to make their scholarship openly available. I believe that the principles of open education further accelerate scholarship through the addition of metadata, licenses, and persistent access, thereby making scholarship more discoverable and accessible. There is only a small additional step to advancing access to scholarship by further opening the door to important research and teaching materials curated by academics and institutions.


  • Lead and share your activities in open education with a commitment to knowledge mobilization. I have found that some faculty and those in academic leadership are not as receptive to the idea of licensing and discoverability, the technical bits. However, knowledge mobilization often resonates in the academy, and connections may be drawn to your university’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Socialize open education with your academic unit. In particular, talk to your chair or dean about your goals and experiences with open education. As well, make sure to explicitly share with your students why you chose to use open resources or research and what that means for them and society at large.
  • Find your open community within the university; they are to be found in the library, student groups, teaching and learning centers, and among other academic units.
  • Join international networks and consortia. Organizations such as the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) and the Creative Commons Global Network have been hugely supportive and can allow you to connect with open education allies beyond the university.


  • Faculty of Education. (n.d.). Open access policy [PDF]. Retrieved January 25, 2023. https://www.uvic.ca/education/assets/docs/openaccesspolicy_dec52019.pdf

  • Government of Canada. (November 29, 2012). Research data archiving policy. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Retrieved February 6, 2023. https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/about-au_sujet/policies-politiques/statements-enonces/edata-donnees_electroniques-eng.aspx

  • University of Victoria. (n.d.a.). About the university. University of Victoria. Retrieved January 20, 2023. https://www.uvic.ca/about-uvic/about-the-university/index.php

  • University of Victoria. (n.d.b.). Our strategic priorities. Retrieved January 25, 2023. https://www.uvic.ca/strategicframework/priorities/index.php


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Valuing OER in the Tenure, Promotion, and Reappointment Process Copyright © 2024 by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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