Farewell B.C. Open Textbook Collection: A tribute to the modest library that spurred open education in B.C.

Post by Lauri Aesoph, manager, Open Education Operations, BCcampus

February 1, 2024 marked the end of an era; the B.C. Open Textbook Collection was retired and permanently replaced by the B.C. Open Collection.

The B.C. Open Textbook Collection was the first open educational resource library in Canada and served the needs of post-secondary institutions for 12 years. BCcampus published a series of blog posts in 2022 celebrating the innovation and financial and pedagogical advantages of the collection. The repository housed books that not only targeted courses taught at B.C.’s post-secondary institutions, but also could legally be changed by instructors to fit their curriculum and teaching style and shared with students at no cost.

Surprisingly, the B.C. Open Textbook Collection turned out to be much more.

It became the training ground that the B.C. Open Textbook Project team used to learn about open education:

  • It showed us how to select books (there weren’t a lot in the beginning) for this growing collection.
  • It taught us how to transform American books into open textbooks tailored for Canadian curricula.
  • It led us to fund faculty authors to write new textbooks to fill in the collection’s gaps.
  • It pushed us to learn how to help our system colleagues identify and use open textbooks in the classroom.
  • It encouraged us to clarify the features of each book by using Accessible, Adoption, Ancillary Resources, and Review flags.
  • It taught us the importance of accepting contributions from our community such as open textbook reviews, suggestions for the collection, and reporting textbook errors.

The B.C. Open Textbook Collection, and its seemingly impossible promise of housing 40 open textbooks, delivered and flourished and groaned under the weight of almost ten times that amount a decade later. As the collection grew, the number of readers surged, and changed from beginners needing basic support to masterful users asking increasingly complex questions.

Eventually, it was time to build a new and improved replacement. The B.C. Open Collection was renamed and launched on a dedicated website in June 2022 with new key features and enhancements such as improved findability.

Within a few years, the B.C. Open Textbook website, initially called Opening Education, was renamed BCcampus OpenEd, and its staff became the BCcampus Open Education team. Presentation topics extended beyond the use of open textbooks to include additional open education topics like advocacy, funding opportunities, and resources to help create open textbooks. Our team did its best to capture what we learned on our newly branded site.

The BCcampus OpenEd website, built upon years of training and aiding our community, serves as a living reference specific to B.C. post-secondary open education. It is the ideal complement to a strong collection of open educational resources — the B.C. Open Collection — both of which will continue to evolve and serve the educational needs of this province.

Beyond the Collection

While the B.C. Open Textbook Project team was hired to build, care for, and teach others how to use the B.C. Open Textbook Collection, we soon realized that open textbooks were just one part of open education. Expanding our focus from open textbooks to open education moved our work closer to BCcampus’s vision “to inspire and transform B.C. public post-secondary education by facilitating innovative and inclusive teaching and learning experiences.”

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