VICTORIA - Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson has provided this statement in advance of Open Education Week, which runs March 9-13, 2015:
“Technology and the need for affordable, high-quality education materials are driving new ways of thinking about teaching and learning. Today, there is a growing movement toward free and open sharing of educational resources as a way to increase access to education and knowledge for everyone.
“Open Education Week celebrates this new direction, and helps raise awareness of the many new opportunities for learners and educators to meet their needs and goals.
“Open textbooks are one important element of open education. British Columbia was the first province in Canada to launch a government-sponsored open textbook project. Post-secondary students can now access more than 70 textbooks online, for free, through the Open Textbooks program announced by the provincial government in October 2012.
“Educators develop these textbooks, and share them with students, teachers and the public. The texts are freely available online or through low-cost printing. People are encouraged to use, distribute, remix, adapt and build upon the work of the author, as long as the author is credited for the original creation.
“Open textbooks also give students a significant financial break. To date, more 4,600 students in British Columbia have saved in excess of $600,000 by using open textbooks. More than 50 faculty members at approximately 14 post-secondary institutions in B.C. are using open textbooks in the highest-enrolled, first- and second-year subject areas. These numbers continue to grow. An additional 20 open textbooks in skills, training and technology subjects are expected by September 2015.
“The collection of open education resources in B.C. is growing in size and number of users. They will become even more accessible than ever with tools such as the newly released BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit. The kit encourages educators to develop and adapt open textbooks specifically for students with disabilities.”
For an audio clip of Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson speaking about Open Education Week, visit: http://ow.ly/JZBSF
Open education resources are a growing part of the changing face of education. For more information about Open Education Week, visit: www.openeducationweek.org/
For more information about open education resources in British Columbia, including the BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit, visit the BCcampus website: http://open.bccampus.ca/
Stacey McGaghey Jones
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Advanced Education