KPU students reaping the benefits of open textbooks

Fri, Mar 24, 2017

By Nikolina Djuric

Metro Vancouver, B.C.— Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is the institutional leader of open textbook adoption in B.C.

The open textbook project provides free online and interactive textbooks, as well as low-cost print textbooks for students. In 2012, BCcampus launched the B.C. open textbook project so students wouldn’t have to choose between groceries and paying for required course materials.

“Open textbooks remove the relationship between students’ ability to pay for resources and their educational outcomes,” said Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, who is the university teaching fellow in open studies and a psychology instructor at KPU, and the senior open education research and advocacy fellow at BCcampus. “That KPU leads B.C. in embracing open education is a true reflection of our commitment to ensuring that higher education is accessible to everyone who seeks it.”

According to research by Jhangiani that will be published in The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning in 2017, some 60 per cent of B.C. students elect not to purchase at least one required textbook because of the high cost.

Meanwhile at KPU, the adoption rate of open textbooks has nearly doubled over last year. Today, 4,030 students have saved over $400,000 in textbooks, which is up from 2,500 students saving over $230,000 at last count.

There are currently 180 open textbooks available in the BCcampus repository, available for adoption in courses across arts, science and horticulture, and trades and technology. These textbooks are accessible to students in every digital format, as well as print.

KPU’s success with open textbooks is reflective of a global open education movement, which will be celebrated during next week’s International Open Education Week. The goal is to raise awareness about the positive impact of open education on teaching and learning worldwide.

Speaking of teaching impact, open textbooks can be updated by teachers at any time to reflect new research developments, statistics or even cultural examples, whereas hard copy textbooks take a longer time to be updated, notes Jhangiani.

“Faculty have full control over the cost of their required course materials,” said Jhangiani, “So when there is a good open textbook available for a course, this represents an easy win for both students and faculty, who want to see their students succeed.”

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