Students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have saved over $1 million through the Open Textbook Project, which provides flexible and affordable access to higher education resources.
Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson visited a social psychology class at UBC today to talk to students about how they have benefitted from the use of open textbooks.
“The B.C. government continues to put students first by reducing student costs and making post-secondary education more accessible with open textbooks,” said Wilkinson. “The benefits of open textbooks will only continue to grow as more faculty and institutions adopt these open educational resources.”
Since the launch of the Open Textbook Project in 2012, it is estimated that over 30,000 students in B.C. have saved nearly $3.7 million. Open textbooks are available online and use an open license, making digital versions free to use by students and faculty. Approximately 267 faculty members at 23 public post-secondary institutions are currently participating in the project.
Benjamin Cheung, a lecturer in the UBC department of psychology, uses the free open textbook ‘Principles of Social Psychology’ to teach Psych 308, an elective course that hundreds of UBC students take every year.
“Using open textbooks alleviates some of the financial pressures for these students,” said Cheung. “Not only is this open textbook comparable to others in terms of quality, but it also gives me more freedom and control as an educator over what goes into the course and what students take away from the instruction.”
Since joining the project, UBC has seen 51 open textbook adoptions, which has helped to reduce education costs for over 8,200 students. For example, the open textbook for the social psychology class visited today has benefitted approximately 150 students with overall savings of $25,500.
Kevin Doering, a fourth-year economics student and associate vice president, academic and university affairs at the UBC Alma Mater Society, said he recently used an open textbook for a microeconomics course that saved him about $200.
“Open textbooks not only help alleviate financial stress for students, but also often improve the quality of course content,” said Doering. “Since open textbooks allow instructors to customize materials for their course, they can move away from the more traditional method of teaching chapter-by-chapter, which results in a more engaging classroom experience.”
Through open textbooks, students have access to more than 170 resources available in a range of popular first- and second-year areas such as math, chemistry and business, skills and technical subjects such as trades foundation courses, healthcare and adult upgrading. In addition, 23 of the trades books are also available for download as free audiobooks, which assists students who face barriers to education.
“The B.C. Open Textbook Project is saving students money, improving access, and transforming teaching and learning practices,” said Amanda Coolidge, senior manager of open education at BCcampus. “With open textbooks, faculty can take control of their learning resources and transform the experience for students by including up-to-date research within the textbook as well as by localizing the content. UBC faculty and staff are paving the way in open practices across the institution, and as a result, both students and faculty are benefiting.”
Open textbooks provide instructors the flexibility to adapt and customize their course materials, which can enhance the student experience and provide localized content and modifications based on the latest research. Additional resources such as presentations, test banks and videos have also been added to the open textbook collection.
The Open Textbook Project is the first government-sponsored initiative of its kind in Canada and has been replicated by other Canadian provinces including Alberta and Manitoba. B.C. is also working collaboratively with other jurisdictions in 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 committed an additional $1 million to develop 20 open textbooks in skills training and technical programs.
B.C. Open Textbook Adoptions Around the World: https://open.bccampus.ca/around-the-world/
Open Education at UBC: http://open.ubc.ca
Lori WatsonGovernment Communications & Public Engagement
Ministry of Advanced Education
Bonnie VockerothCommunications Specialist
UBC Department of Psychology