Open Textbooks. Helping Students Save Money!

Psssst . . . have you heard about open textbooks? Open textbooks are textbooks licensed under an open copyright license and made available to be freely used by students, professors, and members of the public. Rather than requiring that students purchase an expensive textbook, open textbooks are freely available online and allow students to read, download, save, and print the textbook as they wish.

The open textbook movement is gaining traction across Canada in an effort to reduce the cost of postsecondary education for students.  British Columbia (through BCcampus) is the Canadian leader in open textbook development, with over 250 textbooks currently listed on their web site. The use of these textbooks have saved BC students almost $10 million in textbook costs. Other provinces, including Saskatchewan, are also starting to advocate for and develop open textbooks. Recent funding from the Government of Saskatchewan allowed the University of Regina to create several open textbooks.

If you like the idea of open textbooks, or want to know more, here are some steps you can take:

Students

  • Learn more about open textbooks so that you can spread the word to fellow students.
  • Talk to your professors about open textbooks. Encourage them to explore options in their subject area.
  • If you are serious about organized advocacy efforts, check out the information for Student Advocates on the BCcampus web page. URSU is very interested in open textbooks, so talk to them about how you can help advocacy efforts on the U of R campus.

Instructors

  • Explore the open textbooks that are available in your area of interest. A couple of good repositories of open textbooks are BCcampus and the Open Textbook Library.
  • Use an existing open textbook as-is, modify an existing textbook to meet your needs, or mix-match sections from several textbooks.
  • Talk to U of R instructors already using open textbooks (including those who have created new textbooks) for insight into the process (and rewards) of adopting an open textbook for your class.

Open textbooks provide an exciting opportunity for instructors to customize textbook content, while also making postsecondary education more affordable for our students.

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Image credit: Opensourceway / CC BY-SA