Thompson Rivers University

More open textbooks available for students

November 10, 2015

BC Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson

Post-secondary students and instructors can now access more than 120 textbooks online, including more than 50 new textbooks focussed on skills training and technical subjects, as part of a commitment to make education resources more affordable and accessible.

“Government is putting students first through the Open Textbook Project,” said Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson. “Open textbooks continue to be added as we build partnerships and increase participation across jurisdictions. The Open Textbook Project is saving money for students and providing instructors with flexible, adaptable learning materials.”

Wilkinson was joined today by Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) to experience first-hand the BC Open Textbook Project. Sixty-four TRU sociology students have saved an more than an estimated $10,000 using the open textbooks in the class. Previously, the hard-copy version of the textbook would have cost each student $160.

“The Open Textbook Project is building partnerships across the country and making education more affordable at institutions in BC, such as Thompson Rivers University,” said Lake. “More than 100 faculty members at over 15 public post-secondary institutions are participating in the project.”

Government has provided a total of $2 million to BCcampus since 2012 for the Open Textbook Project. The project produces textbooks under open copyright license, so digital versions are free and can be modified and adapted by instructors to fit their instructional needs. The latest textbooks focus on key subject areas that support BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, such as trades, adult basic education, tourism, hospitality and healthcare.

“Thompson Rivers University is proud to support and participate in the Open Textbook Project,” said TRU president Alan Shaver. “Students are using online textbooks both on campus and through TRU Open Learning to facilitate both in-classroom and distance education.”

The new additions build on the current collection of titles in the most highly-enrolled first and second-year post-secondary subjects.

“Students using Open Textbooks in just three of their classes will pay for the tuition for a fourth course, which translates into better retention and completion rates,” said Ron McGivern, senior lecturer and chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at TRU. “I have 64 students in my Introduction to Sociology class and BC open textbooks are saving them thousands of dollars. They allow students to focus on their studies instead of worrying about how to pay for the text.”

BC was the first jurisdiction in Canada to launch a government-sponsored Open Textbook Project. It is estimated that more than 8,000 students in BC have saved more than $1 million through the project.

“I have saved some money using open textbooks, and they are easy to print or access digitally,” said Craig Trarup, student at TRU. “Students across BC are encouraging professors to get on board with open textbooks as they can be easily adapted to reflect current information.”

For student Madison Ganton, free means peace of mind in other areas. “When I heard the textbook was free, I thought, ‘That’s money I don’t have to come up with. That’s money I don’t have to pay back to somebody. That’s money I get to keep and that’s money that gets my mom a Christmas present.’ ”

Student Jacob Dingman enjoys the easier portability of open textbooks over traditional ones. “Having to carry around three or four textbooks all day isn’t fun,” said Dingman. “What’s really nice about open text books is having it there on your computer. It’s a much more streamlined process than having to carry 400 pages on your back all day.”

BC is working with other jurisdictions across Canada to make it easier to share resources and develop open textbooks that benefit students and instructors. BCcampus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Campus Manitoba in 2015, and BC also signed an MOU with Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2014 committing the provinces to work together on open education resources.

“We are really excited to include a range of open textbooks in skills training and technical trades,” said Amanda Coolidge, manager of Open Education at BCcampus. “We are already seeing open textbook use in adult basic education, English and math, clinical health, tourism and hospitality and culinary arts. Student savings continue to grow with the expansion of the online collection. Open textbooks benefit the institution as a whole from administration to faculty to students.”

Media contact

Trish Fougner
Ministry of Advanced Education
Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 952-6400

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