In mid-September 2020, BCcampus Open Education hit a major milestone: realizing over $20 million in student savings since the program’s inception way back in the fall of 2012.
Post by BCcampus’ editorial team
If you’d told us back in 2012 that the B.C. Open Textbook Collection would save B.C. students over $20 million in less than a decade, we’d have laughed with you, then we’d put our heads down and get back to what we do best: finding ways to improve the teaching and learning space for students and educators across the province. We’re very good at bringing smart people together to find innovative, creative, and effective solutions to today’s concerns. We’re not very good at patting ourselves on the back. So today, we have 20 million reasons to celebrate, and tomorrow, we’ll get busy moving towards the next goal. As long as there are students interested in learning and faculty willing to teach, we’ll be developing ways to help them all succeed.
How Do We Measure Open Textbook Adoption?
When we’re tracking the adoption of open textbooks, it’d be tempting to include all OER, but we decided early on that open textbooks are our focus, so that’s what we measure — nothing else.
“There are many roads to Rome,” shared Lauri Aesoph, manager of open education operations at BCcampus, “and the same can be said for open adoptions. We rely on a self-reporting mechanism to track adoptions across the province, and while we have champions at each institution, we aren’t always notified of an adoption. We’ve developed resources to help faculty track and share adoption information for their particular institution, and we ask that they share the anonymous data with us, but it’s not mandatory.”
In 2015, we changed how we assign the assumed savings of open textbook adoptions. Clint Lalonde created an excellent post to explain why we switched and how we do the math.
When you’re as passionate as we are about saving money for students, you might find yourself Googling other adoptions and adaptations outside of the local community. Such was the case when Lauri stumbled across the Open Syllabus Project at The American Assembly, which is associated with Columbia University, where she discovered an adoption that was linked to SFU but hadn’t been recorded by their team.
Who Is Adopting Open Textbooks?
To date, we know of 41 institutions and 593 faculty in B.C. who have adopted an open textbook for some or all of their course. While every adoption story is phenomenal, there are a few teams that are doing an amazing job of recording and reporting their adoptions:
- Simon Fraser University implemented a grant program to build awareness and advocacy for open education, resulting in substantial student savings year after year.
- Capilano University, recipient of one of our first open education sustainability grants, has estimated that the open textbook they’ve adopted, Introduction to Psychology – 1st Canadian Edition, will ensure their 700+ students save an estimated $88,000 per year.
- Our regional representatives have been providing huge value to remote institutions, with Interior representative Ross McKerlich’s hard work and support resulting in a unified approach to open for the team at Selkirk College.
- In Carolee Clyne’s territory of the North, they had a truly remarkable situation at the University of Northern British Columbia: the publisher of Human Security in World Affairs: Problems and Opportunities – 2nd Edition had elected to stop publishing it. Since the original authors maintained their copyright, they were able to republish the commercial textbook as an open textbook. Since this is essentially the only textbook focused on human security, this was a substantial win for the open movement.
For privacy reasons, we report the savings accrued by the system as a whole, not by individual institutions.
It’s Not Just About Dollars
While saving students money on their post-secondary education is a good metric and something we can all easily identify with, the value goes far beyond the dollars saved. In many cases, students are choosing not to purchase a textbook for some of their courses, relying on libraries and book sharing to access the knowledge they’re looking for, but in other cases, they just go without. Open textbooks bring more value to the classroom, allowing students to focus on learning without worrying about how they’re going to pay for the learning resources they need to acquire the knowledge they deserve.
What Is an Open Textbook?
From the Open Textbooks page of open.bccampus.ca:
An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open-copyright licence and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public. They are available for free as online versions and in a variety of file formats (e.g., for eReaders, editable files like XML and HTML), and as low-cost printed versions, should students or faculty opt for these. Open textbooks are a way to significantly reduce student textbook costs while giving instructors the flexibility to reformat and customize their course material. They are an affordable, flexible alternative to traditionally published textbooks.
Open textbooks can be found at BCcampus Open Education, as well as several other repositories and collections. Some open textbooks contain supplemental or ancillary materials (e.g., test banks, quizzes, PowerPoint slides, videos). Textbooks that include one or more ancillary resources are marked with an Ancillary Resources flag.
To learn more about open textbooks and how you can adopt or adapt a textbook in your classroom, please visit open.bccampus.ca.
- How we’re improving findability for open textbooks
- Ongoing Adoption – Estimating, Calculating, and Tracking
- Calculating Student Savings
- What is an open textbook and how do you use it?
- Tell Us You’re Using an Open Textbook