Leaders in the development and promotion of free online textbooks from across Canada and the United States are meeting at the second annual Open Textbook Summit in Vancouver on April 16 and 17.
“Open textbooks are one way we are working to reduce costs for students, making education more affordable, accessible and flexible,” says Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk. “Through innovation, there will be further ways to reduce barriers to education. The Open Textbook Summit gives us the opportunity to work together across jurisdictions to bring online textbooks to more students and instructors.”
Participants from several U.S. states, as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan, include students, instructors, librarians, post-secondary administrators and government representatives, as well as various agencies and organizations that are involved in open educational resources such as online textbooks.
“Our province is committed to open education resources, and this summit will assist our government in developing a strategy based on the best practices of Alberta and British Columbia,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Advanced Education Rob Norris. “This will benefit students so that they can focus their attention on moving towards learning to earning.”
The summit provides an opportunity to discuss the activities underway in different jurisdictions, identify common issues and potential areas of collaboration and co-operation, and determine the best way to move forward together on open educational resources.
"Along with lending our experiences with textbooks to the conversation, we can also help in bringing this program back to our own schools," said Brittany Barnes, Capilano University student and vice chair of the Alliance of British Columbia Students. "Open textbooks are one of the many innovative changes that this government can establish to save students money and make education more accessible."
"We're looking forward to exploring options for providing a greater range of choices for instructors while also seeking to reduce the costs for students," said Tom Chase, vice president academic, University of Regina.
"Open educational resources for instructors and students will change the landscape of post-secondary education, and we're here to learn and explore ways to contribute to a growing body of knowledge and resources," says Tricia Donovan, executive director of eCampusAlberta, a consortium of 19 Alberta post-secondary institutions that facilitates greater access to high-quality online learning opportunities.
British Columbia was the first province in Canada, and one of the first jurisdictions in North America, to introduce open textbooks for post-secondary students. Nineteen open textbooks have been peer-reviewed by B.C. faculty for courses ranging from math and chemistry to marketing, psychology, and business and are already freely available online for students and instructors.
When fully implemented in British Columbia, it is estimated that more than 200,000 students each year could benefit from the open textbook project, each saving hundreds of dollars in textbook costs.
“In addition to providing free textbooks to our students, open textbooks allow us as instructors to customize our course content exactly the way we want it,” said Adrienne Watt, instructor at Douglas College and Northwest Community College. “The Open Textbook Summit will be a wonderful way for various open textbook advocates to sit down and collaborate on ways to improve this very important endeavour in B.C.”
Last month British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to share resources and work together to develop open educational resources.
The 2014 Open Textbook Summit is organized by BCcampus, a publicly funded organization that focuses on the smart use of collaborative information technology services in higher education in British Columbia.
For more information on the 2014 Open Textbook Summit: http://otsummit.bccampus.ca/
To view the memorandum of understanding between B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan on Open Educational Resources: http://www.bing.com/search?q=aved.gov.bc.ca%2FNWP-MOU-FINAL-SIGNED.pdf&src=IE-TopResult&FORM=IE10TR
To learn more about the B.C. Open Textbook Project: http://bccampus.ca/open-textbook-project/
Ministry of Advanced Education