Students in B.C. have even more to look forward to this back-to-school season as free open textbooks hit up to $2 million in overall student savings.
The B.C. Open Textbook Project is the first government-sponsored measure of its kind in Canada, and it has benefitted more than 15,600 B.C. public post-secondary students since it was first introduced in 2012.
There are currently more than 150 open textbooks available for free online through the Open Textbook Project, ranging from the most popular first- and second-year areas such as math and business, to skills and technical subjects such as trades foundation courses and adult upgrading. More than 170 faculty members at 23 public post-secondary institutions in B.C. are currently participating in the Open Textbook Project.
In addition to open textbooks, the Open Textbook Project offers free open education resources including a toolkit to make open textbooks more accessible to people with disabilities, an authoring guide to assist with creating or adapting open textbooks and an open education resource toolkit, which provides information on how interested student societies can advocate for greater open textbook adoption on campus.
Projects in development through the Open Textbook Project include a new open text on Aboriginal knowledge and science education research, supplementary teaching resources and adoption packages for common core trades open texts.
B.C. is recognized as a leader both nationally and internationally in the development of open-education resources including open textbooks, and it is working collaboratively with other jurisdictions in Canada, the United States and abroad to support the creation and use of open educational resources.
Government kick-started the Open Textbook Project with BCcampus in 2012 by providing $1 million in funding for open textbooks in the most highly enrolled first- and second-year academic subjects. In 2013, government made a platform commitment and provided further funding of $1 million to develop 20 additional open texts in skills and technical subjects. The project exceeded both commitments.
In December 2015, BCcampus announced that the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation would provide $525,000 USD over three years to develop resources to accompany open textbooks support open textbook adoption through the Open Textbook Project.
Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson –
“Our government continues to put students first by making high-quality post-secondary education more affordable through the availability of open textbooks. Available in a range of popular topics, from first year math and physics through to trades and adult upgrading, open textbooks benefit both students and faculty alike.”
Amanda Coolidge, senior manager of open education at BCcampus –
“BCcampus is committed to open education because it increases access to higher education by reducing student costs and gives faculty more control over their instructional resources
Michael Zaitlin, student caucus chair of the Thompson Rivers University Student Union –
“Our open textbook campaign at Thompson Rivers University aims to increase student savings by encouraging faculty to use open textbooks. Open textbooks offer an improved learning experience for students by giving a lot of control over course materials back to the faculty.”
Maxwell Nicholson, director of campaigns and community relations with the University of Victoria Student Society –
“The Open Textbook Project has been on our mind at the University of Victoria Student Society since day one. Textbook affordability is something that we can change. However, open textbooks do more than save students money. Open education resources allow materials to be tailored to the course specifically – you can read an open textbook from beginning to end and know that it is relevant for the course.”
Dr. Arthur Gill Green, affiliate assistant professor in the department of geography at the University of British Columbia and professor at Okanagan College –
“When professors adopt an open textbook, we also adopt a more responsible teaching philosophy. Open textbooks offer much more than cost-savings; they offer the ability to both share and create knowledge with our colleagues and students. I think that instructional shift is among the most important powers of open textbooks.”
Dr. David G. Harper, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of the Fraser Valley –
“There is no reason to ask students to pay $300 for a textbook when, in my experience, open textbooks are just as good as commercial texts for student learning outcomes, and much better for students in terms of cost and convenience.”