TLEF grant funding ends, impacts continue for years to come

The outcomes from the second year of the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) grant ensure that summer is ending on a high note in the UBC Library Research Commons. From the release of the last of the 12 Open Education Resources (OER), to the improvement of team cohesion and collaboration, this project has been rewarding for the team and will continue to benefit the research community at large for years to come.

Last year, we told you about the innovative content and workshops that were delivered in the first year of the grant. In this second year, the focus shifted to Digital Scholarship. Building on learnings from year one of the grant, several enhancements were implemented for year 2. 

  • UBC Librarians on the team provided a more defined structure for content and workshop creation. 
  • GTAs recorded speaking notes, which have been retained for future presenters of the content. 
  • Workshop sizes were increased to make the workshops more broadly available. 
  • The team implemented new methods of content iteration and feedback integration (with the help of the Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology [CTLT]) 
  • More opportunities for team building were added. 

As in year one, the UBC Library Research Commons team of Jeremy Buhler (Data Librarian), Allan Cho (Community Engagement Librarian), Ekatarina (Eka) Grguric (Digital Scholarship Librarian), and Evan Thornberry (GIS Librarian), worked together to refine what the second year of the grant would look like. Since the second year focused on Digital Scholarship, Eka took the lead.

Using survey feedback about research skills most needed by the UBC community, Eka and the rest of the team were able to hire a team of subject matter experts to best match the data and Digital Scholarship needs of the UBC community. These four Graduate Teaching Assistants developed workshops, which were delivered over the summer of 2021, along with corresponding OERs. 

Dr. Dorothee Leesing (PhD in Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies (CENES), Sessional Lecturer in CENES) brings her expertise in text encoding with TEI XML and Oxygen to the team. In Dorothee’s workshop, Creating XML files from newspapers in Oxygen, you learn how to automate a search function in comparable texts and categorize elements in collections of texts. 

As an existing member of the Research Commons team, Dr. Liam Doherty (PhD in Language and Literacy Education, Sessional Instructor in the Department of Asian Studies) already offers workshops for the Research Commons on topics such as Markdown and the Unix shell. The grant provided an opportunity for Liam to add two further workshops to the Research Commons’ roster. In Liam’s Advanced Shell workshop, you learn next-level shell skills, including how to view images and listen to music from the command line. In Regular Expressions, you find out how to use expressions for everything from finding strings of text in large data sets to easily formatting complex documents.  

Mikhael Gaster (MA in Economics) expands on the popular topics of web scraping and Python with the workshop Intro to web scraping with Python. This workshop shows you how to use Python to scrape websites for content, including how to clean and store the content for future use. 

Shayan Fahimi (PhD candidate Structural Engineering) makes coding more enjoyable and productive with the workshop Setting up a development environment. While learning about different development environments and basic text editors, you get an overview of VSCode and some of its extensions, such as Git, SSH, and Docker. Also, check out Shayan’s workshop called Build and customize a website with Jekyll to learn the practical skills of creating a website on your local machine and then serve it on GitHub Pages.

The positive results of this TLEF grant are numerous, but they can be divided into two main areas. First, there are the 12 OERs created over the two years of the grant, which will serve the research community at UBC for years to come. The other major win is the learning-model structure the TLEF team developed. This model can be used by anyone to create learning assets in any area imaginable.

The success of this project is the result of collaboration between GTAs from Year One (Maya Daurio, Arthur Marques, Nicolas Martino, and June Skeeter) and the GTAs from Year Two (Dorothee Leesing, Liam Doherty, Mikhael Gaster, and Shayan Fahimi). 

This project is also the product of the collaboration of numerous external partners. In both years, the GTAs received instructor training from the Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) specific to the OER and workshop models of delivery. This year educational consultant in design and facilitation at CTLT, Dr. Jens Vent-Schmidt, provided this instruction to the GTAs.

The team also wishes to thank the following partners:

  • Dr. Megan Meredith-Lobay from Advanced Research Computing (ARC)
  • Dr. Patrick Pennefather from the Emerging Media Lab (EML)
  • Dr. Mary Chapman from the Public Humanities Hub (PHH)
  • Dr. Joseph Topornycky from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT), and
  • Jacqui Brinkman from Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GP+S)

The success of the project would not have been possible without their valuable contributions in areas such as identifying project focus, finding ideal candidates, and OER and workshop promotion.

If you have further questions about any of the offerings or the OER model for workshops and short-form training, please email us at