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).
The province will providing $3.26 million in funding for OER, including more open textbooks. 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.
“Students in the trades are burdened by the cost of learning resources,” said Chad Flinn, industrial construction instructor at BCIT who has developed 95 creative commons (copyright licenses that enable free distribution) YouTube videos. “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.”
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.
Facts about OER in British Columbia
- About 100,000 students in B.C. have saved as much as $10 million as a result of open textbooks.
- In September 2018, the B.C. Federation of Students contributed $30,000 to the BCcampus open education fund for the creation of open education resources (OER), including open textbooks and ancillary resources.
- More than 250 textbooks are available through the B.C. Open Textbook Collection, including over 165 textbooks in the most popular first- and second-year subject areas, such as math, chemistry and business. Over 80 textbooks are available in skills and technical subject areas, such as common core trades courses, health care, tourism/hospitality and adult basic education.
- Fifteen guides and support resources are available to assist faculty, staff and students in producing OER at institutions.
- More than 520 faculty members at 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C. have participated in the open-textbook initiative.
- In June 2018, the Province provided BCcampus with $250,000 to create or adapt open textbooks for all course levels in the B.C. Adult Dogwood diploma, including math, English, science, social science, computer studies, education and career planning.