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'Open textbooks' catching on at BC colleges and universities

Last Updated Feb 10, 2017 at 11:21 pm PST

(Courtesy iStock)
Summary

More than 170 university and college texts are now accessible online for students, saving undergrads hundreds of dollars

BC is considered a leader in developing a program to offer university classroom textbooks online for free

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The provincial government is announcing the ‘Open Textbook Project’ has saved BC’s post-secondary students nearly $4-million. The project was kicked started by the province with $1-million investment back in 2012.

It’s money well-worth spent, says Kwantlen psychology professor and BCcampus research fellow Rajiv Jhangiani.

He points out two-thirds of students don’t buy the required textbooks because of the cost.

An open textbook is one offered online, with the ability for instructors to made adjustments as needed.

More than 170 university and college texts are now accessible online for students – and those include trade and technology books.

“I’m pleased to say BC is a clear leader. Every other province is turning to us for leadership. We’re trying to support, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and Ontario,” says Jhangiani.

The cost savings are huge for students who can shell out hundreds of dollars for a single text. Jhangiani says the bigger institutions such as SFU, UBC and UVic are getting on board, realizing the free online books ensure more students have access to higher education.

“It’s partly about social justice but it’s about being able to modify your material rather than basing your course on a book’s table of contents.”

Studies are beginning to emerge to demonstrate the benefits to students.

“The first Canadian open textbook study was at Kwantlen and we found that when students are assigned open educational resources they are outperforming students who are spending $200 for commercial textbook,” says Jhangiani.

An international Open Textbook Summit will be held in Vancouver in May.