5 key lessons learned through the B.C. Open Textbook Project

In October 2015, the B.C. Open Textbook Project turned three and as of today, there are over 135 open textbooks in the B.C. Open Textbooks Collection. These Open Educational Resources (OER) are important to the higher education system in B.C. because they have the potential to:

  • increase access to higher education by reducing student costs,
  • give faculty more control over their instructional resources, and
  • move the OER agenda forward in a meaningful, measurable way.

However, like any project, the B.C. Open Textbook Project has faced a number of obstacles and challenges, but with those comes the opportunity to learn. Here are a few key lessons that we’ve learned along the way:

  1. Awareness building is crucial for success.

    As was found in the research conducted by the Faculty Fellows in 2015, barriers to institutional adoption of open textbooks was primarily a lack of understanding of open education, open textbooks, and open educational practices. It is important to not overestimate that the majority might not be aware of the open education agenda. Faculty and institutional support staff need informative sessions and awareness building campaigns on how to adopt open textbooks and most importantly where to find open educational resources.

  2. Speak the language of your stakeholder.

    “It is important to note that each stakeholder has a different agenda and interest in adopting open education. For example, Administrators are interested in funding, financial barriers, and parent and student attitudes. Faculty are concerned with efficacy and academic freedom. Students respond to costs, grades, and time to graduate.” – David Wiley – Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer at Lumen Learning

  3. Support is required for successful implementation of open education.

    It is vital that various levels of support, for faculty and institutional staff, are needed to ensure the successful adoption, creation, and sharing of OER. Support is required in the areas of curation, instructional design, and technical assistance.

  4. Seek the support of early adopters and student advocates.

    Integrating faculty adopters and student leaders into the advocacy campaign creates a community of trust when presenting at institutions. Students articulate the importance of affordability and access to the success of their education and faculty articulate the process of adoption, efficacy research, and benefits of customization for learning.

  5. Build communities of practice.

    By building communities of practice, e.g. BCOER Librarians, we were able to distribute the work across the stakeholders at each institution. Developing communities of practice not only benefited the project, but also raised the profile of institutional librarians in the public post-secondary system.

As a result, of these lessons learned, the sustainability of the B.C. Open Textbook Project will focus on three main areas:

  • increasing adoptions of open textbooks,
  • improving the collection to meet the needs of educators in B.C., and
  • piloting numerous sustainability initiatives to ensure that open textbooks can continue to evolve and develop as an alternative to expensive publisher’s textbooks.

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