36 institutions, 520 faculty, 153,683 students, $18,269,693 in savings realized through the adoption of open textbooks. Are they random numbers, wishful thinking, or a carefully refined process to ensure we measure our success effectively?
Post by BCcampus’ editorial team
We’re proud to share the success of the open textbooks program in B.C., where we’ve estimated that local learners have saved well over ten million dollars, but how do we get that number? How do we know who and where open textbooks are being used throughout the province? It’s not guesswork – we’ve worked with open enthusiasts and practitioners across the province to develop tracking programs that measure the adoption of open textbooks in our partner institutions. Here’s how some of them are doing it.
Featuring a regularly updated graphic to show current adoptions, Langara College is proudly one of the heaviest adopters of open textbooks among B.C. post-secondary institutions.
“What began as a side-of-the-desk project has evolved naturally into a strategic approach to tracking the adoption of open textbooks and OER in our institution,” explained Julian Prior, Ed Tech Advisor and Department Chair at Langara College. “By their very nature, open resources are hard to track. Part of our success in tracking the open adoptions is due to our bookstore. It might seem counter-purpose for them, but they see themselves as student support on campus and provide us with a list of all textbooks being used throughout the institution, with indications as to which courses are using open resources. We share that information with BCcampus, and publicly via our main website.”
“When we track our open textbooks, we base our numbers on actual enrolment, not the number of seats,” said Langara College librarian, Lindsay Tripp. “This gives us a more accurate number to work with so we can see what’s being effectively used and used effectively.”
“We’re proud to be in the top 2-3 institutions in terms of open adoption, especially since we were late to the open game,” shared Julian. “Our faculty deserve all the credit: our respectable adoption numbers were made possible by their interest in providing cost savings to our students.
Previously, tracking was based on faculty self-reporting their adoption of an open textbook to BCcampus.
“Now, at the start of each semester, I go through the textbook list to find people who are using OER, and for those who have used OER in the past,” shared Debra Flewelling, Open Education & Emerging Technologies Librarian at Douglas College. “I check with them to see what they are using in the current semester, and then I enter each semester’s open textbook use in a Google spreadsheet which I share with Lauri. If they note that ‘no textbook is required’ for their course, I will usually follow-up to see if they are using open resources. As we move towards having a zero-textbook cost (ZTC) for a credential, this will be increasingly more important to track because they could be using library materials and journal articles in place of a textbook. These courses will be tracked on a separate spreadsheet from the one shared with BCcampus, which is for open textbook adoptions only.”
“We have started sharing a list each semester of the courses, sections, and faculty using OER, which assists students in selecting classes with open textbooks. We share this list on the Douglas Students Union (DSU) site, our intranet, and on the Open Douglas site to raise awareness and because it is beneficial for the greater community to know which institutions are using open textbooks in the various courses. Recently, I saw UBC shared a list of some of their adoptions and it was very helpful. I’m hoping more institutions will do the same.”
Vancouver Island University
“We know that since 2015, we’ve saved students almost $500K in textbook costs. That doesn’t include the people we don’t know about, so we’re focusing on raising awareness to get a better handle on which open resources are being used in our programs,” explained Maxwell Stevenson, Director of the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning at Vancouver Island University. “We have an open education working group, with membership from our learning and teaching centre, library, faculty, campus store/bookstore, and the student union. This allows us to get a sense of what the different activities are across the campus while raising awareness for open education and open pedagogy. As well, our Teaching and Learning Leadership Council is focusing on developing and sharing strategies to support faculty members interested in adopting additional open practices.”
If you’re interested in tracking the success of your open textbook adoption program, check out the Adoption Guide – 2nd Edition, which includes updates and expansions on topics introduced in the previous version. The first three sections address distinct groups involved in open textbook adoption: instructors, post-secondary institutions, and students, and the second section includes operational aspects of adoption: surveying instructors about, tracking usage of, and reporting open textbooks adoptions.
“With regard to tracking the use of open textbooks in B.C., we’re very conservative with our numbers: we include open textbooks, but no other open educational resources (OER). We don’t include materials, such as journals available via Free Library, as the library pays a licensing fee to gain access to the learning resources. We track open textbooks, and nothing else.” – Lauri Aesoph, Manager, Open Education at BCcampus.