Open Textbooks Gaining Traction

All over Canada, universities are making steps towards developing open educational resources and making them available to students. BCcampus, an organization funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education in British Columbia, is leading the way in this endeavour. As a result, BC universities are lightening the financial burden for some students.

BCcampus provides support for Open Educational Resources (OER). Support includes funding resources via the Online Program Development Fund, and educational resources via the Open Textbook Initiative. According to the BCcampus 2013-2016 strategic report, the Open Textbook Initiative has provided 15 open, modifiable, and faculty-reviewed textbooks to BC colleges and universities with student savings totalling $200 000. The project was started with the goal of making education available to more people by making textbooks less expensive for students. 

Other universities have started to take notice. Campus Manitoba’s website lists OER projects underway in Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Many OER projects in Ontario are facilitated by eCampus Ontario, a non-for-profit whose original purpose was providing students with a way to search for courses from different universities. 

Here at Western, the Instructional Technology Resource Centre (ITRC) has seen an increase in eCampus Ontario-supported projects coming through the door. It’s a pleasure knowing that some of these projects will be made available to not just Western, but the wider Ontario learning community, and potentially the world. 

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