Students in British Columbia are getting more affordable post-secondary education, and instructors are benefiting from high-quality, innovative teaching materials, because of an investment in open education resources (OER).
Funding of $3.26 million for OER, including more open textbooks, was announced by Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, at the Cascadia Open Education Summit held at the Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre Campus. Open textbooks use an open copyright license allowing instructors to modify and adapt teaching and learning materials to fit the unique needs of their students and courses. There is no royalty fee structure.
“Open textbooks can be a major game changer for students because they reduce the burden of debt that students accumulate during their studies,” Mark said. “Students have long been advocating for greater investments in open textbooks as they’re a great way to level the playing field. I’m proud to be part of a government that is listening to students and is working with them as we make record investments in post-secondary education, including open textbooks, as for too long, students were left behind.”
The Open Textbook project is managed by BCcampus, an agency funded by the Province, with the mandate to provide teaching, learning, educational technology and open education support to the post-secondary institutions of British Columbia.
BCcampus will be using funding with the goal of meeting the needs of instructors and making it as easy and attractive as possible to use OER in classrooms — through better OER and OER-related support services and online infrastructure for a broad range of educational programs.
Funding will allow students to have free access to assignments and quizzes with the development of an open-source homework-management system. Zed Creds — or programs of study with no textbook costs — for early childhood education, science, technology, engineering and math education, trades, health and business will result in significant savings for students. About $260,000 will go toward articulated engineering courses that transfer across institutions.
BCcampus, along with representatives from Washington state and Oregon, are jointly hosting the Cascadia Open Education Summit in Vancouver, April 17-18, 2019. The summit brings together open education leaders from around the world to connect, collaborate and share innovative practices.
Investing in more open education resources supports the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the BC Green Party caucus to make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.
Bob D'Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission and chair of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services —
“Students asked for more investments in open textbooks to make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable. I’m proud to report back that an investment of more than $3 million will help to reduce student debt and support faculty and instructors in classrooms and lecture halls throughout the province.”
Aran Armutlu, chairperson, B.C. Federation of Students (BCFS) —
“Students are excited to see the government recognize the value of open education resources. The high cost of textbooks is an obstacle that can force students to short-change their academic goals, and this infusion of funding will enable BCcampus to create a suite of new and enhanced resources that will ease the burden of expensive textbooks and course materials. This announcement means we are working together to take steps towards making post-secondary education more affordable for students throughout British Columbia.”
Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus —
“We are thrilled to see continued investment in open education resources by government. Breaking down barriers for students, institutions and community stakeholders is increasing the number of students accessing open education resources. We are pleased that this summit is helping stakeholders do the big picture thinking necessary to keep improving open education platforms well into the future.”
Chad Flinn, industrial construction instructor at BCIT who has developed 95 creative commons (copyright licenses that enable free distribution) YouTube videos —
“Students in the trades are burdened by the cost of learning resources. I’d rather see students investing in tools for their trade rather than textbooks that are only used for a short time in class. There’s so much more value in teaching methods using open education resources. It’s way more creative. We can involve students in the co-creation of content, so the sky’s the limit.”
A backgrounder follows.