The government of British Columbia has announced its support for the creation of open textbooks for the 40 most popular first- and second-year courses in the province’s public post-secondary system. The texts will be available for free online, or at low-cost for printed versions, to approximately 200,000 students.

B.C.’s minister of advanced education, John Yap, announced the project at the Open Education Conference in Vancouver. He said students could save up to $1,000 per year on textbooks if free, open versions were available for many of their courses, and he challenged other jurisdictions to follow British Columbia’s lead and support open educational resources: “By taking advantage of technology, more people can get the learning they need in the knowledge economy and access to new or better jobs.”

BCcampus will engage B.C. faculty, institutions and publishers to implement the open textbook project through an open request for proposals.

The first texts under this project (modeled after the recent California legislation) could be in use at B.C. institutions as early as 2013-14 for courses in arts, sciences, humanities and business.

BCcampus executive director David Porter explained that Creative Commons licenses will be used for the textbooks developed in B.C. “Open licenses are integral to making textbooks free for students, and flexible enough for instructors to customize the material to suit their courses.”

Creative Commons’ director of Global Learning, Dr. Cable Green, congratulated the B.C. government for its vision and leadership: “B.C. is leveraging 21st century-technologies and licensing to ensure its citizens have affordable access to high-quality post-secondary textbooks. Open licensing on publicly funded content ensures the greatest impact for the public dollar.”

The international Open Education Conference is on until Thursday October 18, and many of its sessions are streamed live. See http://openedconference.org/2012/ for more details.

The government of B.C. news release is here: http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2012AEIT0010-001581.htm

Want to see good examples of open textbooks? Try Open Stax.

We also have a section on open textbooks on our Opening Education microsite.

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