B.C. Open Textbook Collection Through the Years: 2021

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the B.C. Open Collection. In this monthly blog post series, we’ve been looking back and highlighting some significant milestones of the project. To cap off our series, we look back on 2021. Although our second pandemic year was not as utterly chaotic as the first one, it still had its fair share of challenges — and triumphs. Business was not quite usual, but it did carry on. We adapted and innovated and ended the year with a slew of new resources and lessons learned.

Post by Arianna Cheveldave, coordinator, Open Education, BCcampus 

Screen capture of Tim Carson in vest and tie speaking into a microphone
Our dapper master of ceremonies at the Cascadia Open Education Summit, Tim Carson, BCcampus Open Education advisor and Trades representative

BCcampus held its first large-scale virtual conference in 2021. Hosted in partnership with California State University Affordable Learning Solutions, Open Oregon Educational Resources, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the Cascadia Open Education Summit was held April 27–29, 2021, and saw over 1,200 registrants. The conference featured four fantastic keynote speakers, who presented on imagining a brighter post-pandemic post-secondary future, revising the field of English language–learning resources, making schooling equitable, and disrupting ableism with open practices. Being virtual and offering free registration allowed for a geographically diverse array of attendees and presenters, who held sessions in the streams of equity and access, fostering growth in the open educational resources (OER) ecosystem, orientation to open education, and more. Attendees expressed gratitude for the opportunity to gather and discuss so many of the topics that were front of mind for the community during the pandemic. Every session was recorded and released under an open licence. To view these recordings, head over to the Cascadia Open Education Summit Kaltura channel and consult an archived version of the conference schedule.

"Getting Started" Guide Cover

BCcampus formed a new subunit in spring 2021: the OER Production team. Led by Josie Gray, manager of Production and Publishing, this team consists of Harper Friedman, Kaitlyn Zheng, Arianna Cheveldave, and Maryann Kempthorne (added in September 2022). Production team members are responsible for bringing grant-funded OER up to our quality and accessibility standards. These staff were already in charge of OER production, but creating a formal team gave them more power to establish effective procedures for publishing OER and managing our collection as well as create resources for OER publishing. These resources include

An example H5P activity is shown on a presenter's screen:

Someone doing the activity is instructed to "drag the words into the correct boxes". The answers are filled into their appropriate places in the sentence that is there.
Kymberley Bontinen, Douglas College, shows an H5P activity in Vital Sign Measurement Across the Lifespan – 2nd Canadian Edition in the webinar “Cooking with H5P: Learning from Team Vital Signs” on March 25, 2021.

Despite increased workloads for B.C. faculty and staff due to swinging between teaching online and in person, many OER were funded and produced in the province in 2021. A major focus of the year was open homework systems, including H5P activities embedded in Pressbooks and STEM practice questions in WeBWorK. Providing formative assessments in addition to open textbooks improves the appeal of OER to faculty, who are so often courted by commercial textbook publishers bearing neatly bound textbook and homework packages. BCcampus funded STEM practice question grants and a second round of H5P OER development grants, which built on the success of those issued in 2020. To support H5P grantees, Clint Lalonde and Alan Levine hosted a series of H5P webinars and built a resource site called The H5P Kitchen. You can find many OER enhanced with H5P activities by searching for “H5P” in the B.C. Open Collection.

Other projects funded by grants or published in 2021 include the following:

Votes of confidence for the efforts of BCcampus came from people inside and outside B.C. in 2021. In April we received a three-year grant of USD$900,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, our third and largest multi-year grant from the foundation to date. BCcampus will use this grant to establish open courseware in the B.C. post-secondary sector; improve access to OER for Northern institutions; create, adapt, and adopt OER that reflect our organizational goals for equity, diversity, and inclusion; and increase access to trades training through OER and open pedagogy. Then in December, to round out the year, the B.C. Deans of Arts and Science Programs released an exciting statement in support of OER. BCcampus was thrilled to hear the committee showed public support for open in this way and hopes this statement will help open champions across the province persuade institutional administrations to implement OER policies.

By the end of 2021, the province boasted $27 million in total textbook savings for more than 233,000 students and 725 faculty adopting open textbooks. We wore these numbers with pride, but as 2021 turned into 2022, we were extremely excited for another figure: 10 years since the inception of the B.C. Open Textbook Project in 2012.

We can hardly believe that — after a decade of searching, adapting, funding, writing, and advocating — the goal of 40 open textbooks for the highest-enrolled subject areas in B.C. turned into nearly 400 open resources. The BCcampus staff are grateful every day for the opportunity to do such impactful work and spread the word of open as far as it can ripple out.

We hope you enjoyed our yearlong stroll down memory lane. Thank you so much for reading, sharing, and being a part of the BCcampus community.

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