VICTORIA - Fifteen open, online textbooks in subject areas ranging from math and chemistry to marketing, psychology, and business have been reviewed by post-secondary faculty and are now freely available for download from BCcampus.
"We're leading the country with our development of open, online textbooks, using technology to make education more flexible and affordable," said Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. "Instructors around the province can now download the textbooks, read reviews by their peers, and decide whether they want to use them in their classes, saving students lots of money in textbook costs."
More than 38 instructors and professors from post-secondary institutions around the province reviewed existing open textbooks for quality and relevance in British Columbia. These 15 textbooks have been found to be of high quality and appropriate for use in B.C. institutions (complete list in backgrounder).
The open textbooks will be another option for faculty and instructors who ultimately choose the textbooks they wish to assign to their students.
The textbooks and the reviews are now available online for faculty and instructors to consider for future courses. Some faculty that were involved in the reviews have already decided to use them, including instructors at Langara College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
"It really helps if we can connect with a colleague who has first-hand experience with a particular book," said Takashi Sato, physics instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. "It's important to have made-in-B.C. reviews for textbooks, so that more instructors will be encouraged to adopt open, low-cost texts for their students."
Students and instructors can download open textbooks electronically and pay nothing, and soon they will also be able to order a printed version at a fraction of traditional textbook costs.
"The open textbook project is really going to help me and other students," said Kevin Choy, interactive arts and technology student at Simon Fraser University. "Having already spent about $3,000 on textbooks, I see the ability to download free online textbooks and the option to purchase low-cost printed copies as being particularly valuable."
Even if an open textbook is not being used as the primary text for their course, students can still use them as valuable supplementary learning resources. And these textbooks are available to anyone. For example, anyone with an interest in a subject can freely use them, or a high school student wanting to see what kind of content is covered in a first- year biology course.
This is the first phase of British Columbia's open textbook project to develop free, online, open textbooks for 40 popular post-secondary subject areas. Government has committed to a further 20 open textbooks.
When fully implemented, more than 200,000 students each year could benefit from the open textbook project, each saving hundreds of dollars in textbook costs.
The project is being co-ordinated on government's behalf by BCcampus, a publicly funded organization that aims to make higher education available to everyone through the smart use of collaborative information technology services.
To view or download reviewed open textbooks: open.bccampus.ca/forums/topic/list-of-textbooks-with-reviews/
The B.C. Open Textbook Project: www.bccampus.ca/open-textbook-project/
The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education: www.gov.bc.ca/aved/