$3.26M pledged to OER to enable student savings throughout the province

During the Cascadia Open Education Summit in Vancouver, B.C. in April of 2019, Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, announced the funding of $3.26 million towards Open Education in British Columbia. This welcome infusion of financial support enables BCcampus to continue developing and distributing Open Educational Resources, including open textbooks, that save students money while providing significant learning value.

Post by Amanda Coolidge, Associate Director, Open Education

Since 2003, BCcampus has been working in the field of open education. Between 2003-2012, financial grants were provided to individual faculty to create, adapt, or adopt openly licensed courses, culminating in a province-wide interest in open textbooks by students and educators. In 2012, the then Minister John Yap announced funding of $1 million for the development of 40 open textbooks, covering the top 40 subject areas for first- and second-year courses. In 2014, the province granted an additional $1 million for the development of another 20 open textbooks in the trades and skills training sectors. In 2015 the Hewlett Foundation began their support of the work within B.C. with a $525,000 USD contribution, spread over three years with a goal of increasing adoptions and establishing the first of many Zed Creds in Canada. In 2018, with the announcement that Adult Basic Education (ABE) would become tuition-free, also came the funding announcement of $250,000 to create, adapt, and adopt ABE open textbooks for multiple pathways.

The funding we’ve received to date has made a significant impact for students in British Columbia, with savings currently in excess of $12 million. B.C. post-secondary institutions have recognized the opportunities for access and affordability through the adoption of OER, and we believe that now is the time to further that work, so we have created infrastructures to further support the sustainability of Open Education in BC.

With the $3 million+ investment, we will work with stakeholders, advisory groups, and industry professionals to:

  1. Create/adapt/adopt an open homework software system (or systems) to replace commercially published systems.
  2. Develop an entire suite of freely available resources, including textbooks, test banks, homework assignments and ancillary tools to replace costly commercial products in the following program areas:
    • STEM
    • Business
    • Health
    • ECE
    • Trades
  3. Build capacity in the institutions to assist instructors in the use/integration and development of OER and Open Pedagogy.
  4. Create collaborative relationships with smaller institutions in the northern and interior regions of B.C., establishing an open education network/infrastructure while building capacity for open education: hiring two regional representatives for these underserved areas.
  5. Create a more robust searchability infrastructure so educators can find appropriate curriculum for their courses through an easy-to-use search tool.
  6. Conduct research on and with administrators to measure and evaluate the return on investment of open education.

At BCcampus, we look forward to working with all B.C. post-secondary institutions to advance open education and to eliminate the burdens students face. Through the province of British Columbia’s commitment to access and affordability across post-secondary education, we are excited to work with our system partners to engage more educators, raise awareness with local faculty, and provide significant value to the students and educators throughout B.C.

If you have questions about the funding announcement or the strategies outlined above, please contact us at open@bccampus.ca.

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