Saving students money with open textbooks.
Students at the University of Victoria (facebook.com) have saved more than $51,000 through the Open Textbook Project. Open textbooks are available online and use an open license, making digital versions free to use by students and faculty. BCcampus (facebook.com)
Students at the University of Victoria (UVic) have saved more than $51,000 through the Open Textbook Project. These educational resources are easily accessed and shared online among students and faculty, and are available in a number of programs including earth and ocean sciences, economics and technology and society.
Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson visited an earth and ocean sciences class at UVic today to hear about how students have benefitted from the use of open textbooks.
Since the launch of the Open Textbook Project in 2012, it is estimated that nearly 34,000 students in B.C. have saved almost $3.9 million. Open textbooks are available online and use an open license, making digital versions free to use by students and faculty. Approximately 275 faculty members at 23 public post-secondary institutions are currently participating in the project
“I am thrilled to be able to offer this class with a high-quality textbook that is available free online,” said UVic instructor Duncan Johannessen. “This class is meant to give students a taste of earth sciences and many of them are taking it out of interest rather than need. I like that they can try out this subject with less cost to them. A number of these students are going on to get education degrees and this resource is something they will continue to have access to through their teaching careers. The book was very well written, reviewed by B.C. experts and uses many Canadian and B.C. examples to illustrate the concepts.”
UVic has seen 10 textbook adoptions since the launch of the project, which has helped to reduce education costs for more than 490 students. For example, the free open textbook ‘Physical Geology’ for the earth and ocean sciences class visited today has benefitted approximately 300 students with overall savings of $36,000.
“Having an online textbook for this class is amazingly helpful due to its ease of access and the fact that it’s free,” said earth and ocean sciences student Chantelle Zink. “Taking into consideration all the other expenses the life of a student entails – school courses, living, food – I would take a free online text over a fancier version that would cost me $160 any day of the week, especially if there’s no essential differences as far as the content is concerned. It’s been extremely helpful to be able to use an online textbook this term.”
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.
“Open textbooks have not only transformed the financial equation for students in post-secondary education, they have become invaluable in helping students achieve better learning outcomes,” said Amanda Coolidge, senior manager of open education at BCcampus. “What we know is that students don’t learn from materials they can’t afford. Ensuring that students have access to the resources they need from the beginning is one of the ways open textbooks set students up for success.”
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. British Columbia 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 open textbooks in skills training and technical programs.
B.C. Open Textbook Adoptions Around the World: https://open.bccampus.ca/around-the-world/
Lori WatsonGovernment Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Advanced Education
Vimala JeevanandamCommunications Officer, Faculty of Science
University of Victoria