B.C. Open Textbook Collection Through the Years:  2020

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the B.C. Open Collection. In this monthly blog post series, we’re looking back and highlighting some significant milestones of the project. 

Post by Arianna Cheveldave, coordinator, Open Education, BCcampus 

Hindsight is 2020… 

No one likes to look back on 2020, but I’ll try to make it as painless as possible. 

The year was a bittersweet success story for open education. In March 2020 instructors across B.C. and the world were forced to pivot their courses from face-to-face to online delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many had never taught an online course before and suddenly were teaching several. 

BCcampus also had to pivot. Our plans for the year were changed drastically, thrown out entirely, or simplified to accommodate instructors whose workloads had doubled overnight. Within weeks of the World Health Organization declaring the pandemic, BCcampus began holding online office hours sessions to talk about the basics of teaching online and the new problems everyone was facing together and to empathize with instructors who felt overwhelmed. Many BCcampus Open Education staff and secondees, such as Krista Lambert, Melanie Meyers, and Tim Carson, hosted these sessions. 

To help instructors find teaching materials for their newly online courses, we began to offer open course packs filled with student activities, lecture slides, quizzes, assignments, videos, and more. We first announced the new open online courses project in June, and by September, there were two new high-quality open online courses in the collection. As of now, there are nine courses in the collection, with more on the way in 2023. Where they were previously hosted on separate sites, courses and textbooks are now housed together in the new B.C. Open Collection, which launched in June 2022. 

Instructors turned to open educational resources (OER) for stability and control during rapidly changing and uncertain times. As described in the blog post “OER: Trial by COVID-19,” we discovered early in the pandemic that instructors were using OER at a higher rate than ever before. We calculated that students in B.C. saved over $5.8 million in 2020 thanks to open textbook adoptions — the highest provincial one-year savings on record! By September we reached a new milestone of $20 million in student savings since the inception of the B.C. Open Textbook Project in 2012. 

Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, our team managed to launch and fund many projects in 2020. We dispersed a series of grants for several subject areas and content types, including marketing, open homework systems, and trades. We also distributed foundation and sustainability grants to institutions that needed help starting or maintaining an open education initiative. Many of the resources and programs funded by these grants are out in the open now and are making a real difference for students and instructors. We also published a newly expanded Print-on-Demand Guide and a Virtual Labs and Science Resources Directory to assist institutions searching for ways to enhance distance learning experiences for their students. The Open Education Challenge Series brought bite-sized learning about open education to over 100 registrants, who increased their awareness of open education through accessible weekly challenges. 

B.C. faculty and institutions continued to do incredible work in open education while enduring the growing pains of sudden online learning. In April Capilano University relaunched its open education program with the help of a BCcampus sustainability grant and saved its students over $200 000 in 2020. In June Selkirk College announced its Open First! policy, which asks faculty to first consider OER before seeking commercial teaching materials. Over the summer BCcampus hosted a four-part Open Education Research Webinar series, which featured speakers from different B.C. institutions talking about subjects like information literacies in open pedagogy and what makes for “good” open and digital education. Institutions in the North hosted Open 101 conversations for their faculty and BCcampus staff to discuss how open education can bolster trades education. 

New open textbooks added to the collection in 2020 included Human Security in World Affairs: Problems and Opportunities – 2nd Edition and Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in B.C. – 2nd Edition. Human Security is an openly licensed republication of what was previously a commercial textbook about the subject of human security — one of the only such textbooks in the world. Introduction to Tourism is a second edition of an open textbook first published by BCcampus in 2015, updated to be more timely and improved with interactive H5P activities. Both these projects are representative of the value of remixing and revising before creating from scratch. 

As anyone who lived, learned, or taught through it can attest, 2020 brought challenges most of us had never seen before. We think it’s important to celebrate everything B.C. post-secondary faculty and staff accomplished, whether that be publishing an open textbook, securing an open education grant, or simply coming out the other side of the hectic spring semester in one piece. This year proved the people in our sector are made of tougher stuff and continue to deliver excellent educational experiences and materials, no matter the weather. 

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the B.C. Open Collection, and we’re celebrating the collection all year long. Stay tuned for the next, and final, post in our B.C. Open Textbook Collection Through the Years series as we revisit the milestones from 2021.  

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