College of the Rockies math instructor, Jim Bailey, saved his students close to $8000 in textbook fees for the fall semester by adopting open textbooks for his courses.
The BC Open Textbook Project, funded by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education and managed by BCcampus, aims to provide flexible and affordable access to openly-licensed textbooks to post-secondary students.
Open textbooks are resources created and shared in a manner that allows more people access to them than would be available with traditional, copyrighted materials. They are offered in various e-book formats free of charge or as print-on-demand books available at cost. Phase one of the project, which received $1 million in funding from the provincial government in 2012, saw open resources made available for the highest-enrolled academic subject areas. A second phase, which received an additional $1 million from the provincial government, is focussing on open textbooks for trades and skills training.
Bailey adopted open textbooks in September for his introductory statistics course as well as for three first and second year calculus courses. In all, 60 students had access to online, print or PDF versions of the text with a total savings of $7,920.
“I am a long-time supporter of open source materials. It is the way of the future and I think, moving forward, publishers are going to need to adapt. This was the first semester I have used open textbooks but I am happy with the results,” Bailey says.
In addition to a cost savings, open textbooks provide faculty with more control over their instructional resources, helping them to provide resources that are up-to-date and more relevant to students.
As many textbooks are not originally created in Canada, faculty who are subject experts are able to revise the content of open textbooks to be more applicable for Canadian students. If the changes needed are significant, texts will be re-created from scratch – as is the case for Canadian History and Criminology texts currently. Once revisions or re-writes are completed, the texts are reviewed by other faculty who are experts in those subject areas. Faculty members can then see the peer reviews of materials when choosing their texts for upcoming semesters.
“We are extremely happy with the response to this project by faculty and institutions in BC. It is succeeding beyond our wildest expectations at this point,” adds Clint Lalonde, Open Education Manager for BCcampus.
“As of this fall, we saw 92 open textbooks adopted by 48 faculty across BC, providing 2790 students with $437,000 in savings. So far for the winter semester, we have 52 adoptions by 20 faculty providing another $200,000 in savings to 1584 BC post-secondary students. These savings should see exponential growth in upcoming years.”
Learn more about the BC Open Textbook Project at: http://bccampus.ca/open-textbook-project/