Tag Archives: Open Textbooks

New Open Textbook: Canadian History Pre-Confederation

BCcampus recently announced the release of a new open textbook: Canadian History: Pre-Confederation. This book is a survey text that introduces undergraduate students to important themes in North American history to 1867. It provides room for Aboriginal and European agendas and narratives, explores the connections between the territory that coalesces into the shape of modern Canada and the larger continent and world in which it operates, and engages with emergent issues in the field. The material is pursued in a largely chronological manner to the early 19th century, at which point social, economic, and political change are dissected.

Canadian History: Pre-Confederation by John Douglas Belshaw, Thompson Rivers University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Link: http://open.bccampus.ca/find-open-textbooks/?uuid=6c4a9484-8d43-4a44-a565-09cc773aa53f

BC Open Textbook Summit, May 28-29

The third annual BC Open Textbook Summit 2015 is taking place on May 28-29, 2015 in Vancouver.  The summit, which is hosted by BCcampus, brings together leaders in the Open Textbook field, faculty who are reviewing, adopting and developing Open Textbooks, student advocates, librarians, institutional administrators, government officials, and policy staff.

Link: http://otsummit.bccampus.ca

Geography and Strategic Management: Two New Open Textbooks

BCcampus, as part of the BC Open Textbook Program, recently announced the release of two new open textbooks, both with significant contributions from post-secondary faculty in British Columbia. British Columbia in a Global Context is an introductory geography textbook written by faculty from UBC, SFU, Okanagan College and the University of the Fraser Valley. The book was created to meet the specific regional needs of BC geography courses and was developed during the first BCcampus book sprint that took place on the UBC campus earlier this summer. Mastering Strategic Management-1st Canadian Edition is a Canadian adaptation of the previously released Mastering Strategic Management textbook. Adaptations include Canadian specific content, images, and references, and the creation and inclusion of ancillary resources in the Appendix. Both of these textbooks are licensed under an open copyright license and are made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public.

Link: http://open.bccampus.ca/2014/09/18/geography-and-strategic-management-2-new-open-textbooks/

Faculty Fellow Call for BC Open Textbook Program

The BC Open Textbook Program has issued a call for applications for its faculty fellows program. The program is designed to encourage the adoption of existing open textbooks, to create advocacy and education for faculty about adaptation and creation, and to ensure the quality and relevance of the collection. Faculty fellows will be responsible for engaging in research that determines the efficacy of open textbook use in BC institutions. The specific focus of the research would be decided in consultation with the BCcampus Open Textbook team. Fellows would also provide mentorship to faculty new to open textbooks through presentations and consultation. This activity would take place both within the context of the fellows’ home institution and their discipline. Appointments will be for a one year term beginning September 2014, and each fellow will receive $10,000 at the conclusion of their service. The application deadline is August 11, 2014.

Link: http://open.bccampus.ca/call-for-proposals/faculty-fellows-program-call-for-applications/

Opportunity lost when government content isn’t openly licensed

tl:dr  Publicly funded materials should be openly licensed materials

It is day 2 of the BC open Geography textbook sprint (follow along via blog, Twitter or Flickr). I’m hunkered down with some Geography faculty who are working extremely hard to create a first-year open Geography textbook in 4 days.

The book is very regional, using British Columbia specific case studies, and I’ve been working with our librarian and the faculty to source openly licensed BC specific Geography resources to use in our openly licensed textbook (it will be released with a CC-BY license). The problem is we keep finding useable materials on our own provincial government websites that are protected by copyright and not openly licensed.

Why is this a problem? Well, we can’t use it. We have made a commitment to release anything we create under a Creative Commons license to make it as reusable and shareable as possible.

Now, we could go through the hoops and hurdles and fill out forms and ask the government for permission to use the resources. And we just might get permission to use them for the context of this one book. But anyone who would want to reuse the book down the line would have to go back to the copyright holder (the provincial government), most likely fill out those same forms, wait, and then renegotiate the rights to reuse those resources. It’s not impossible, but a significant barrier to reuse.

Or, we could negotiate to use them in the book with the caveat that anyone down the road would need to remove the copyrighted content, which means that the book is not as complete as it could be. Again, doable, but a barrier for reuse that weakens the book.

We could ask the government to release the content under a Creative Commons license. They may or may not do that. But that will take time and there is no guarantee that it will happen. We need to make a decision about what resources we want to use now. 4 days.

But what bothers me the most is that here we have a project that would benefit the citizens of British Columbia by giving them access to a free learning resource and we cannot use resources that those same citizens have paid for. We have paid to create resources like the charts and graphs in this report, or this historical image from the BC Archives, or this one. And there is this map and this one – resources that would be useful for our Geography textbook. Yet these resources are virtually unusable because they were not released with an open license.

How much more bang for our buck could the taxpayers of BC get if these resources were allowed to be used in other contexts that benefited the citizens of BC?

So, what is the final result? The content is not being used. It is being passed over in favour of openly licensed content. The barriers worked, and that feels like such an unfortunate and unnecessary waste.

The opposite case: Government of Canada

For every frustration I have had with trying to use BC government resources, I have had nothing but success with the federal government. Every resource we have looked at using in the textbook has been openly licensed. We are able to use data, graphs and charts from Stats Canada, and maps from the Atlas of Canada, all openly licensed for reuse. There is a wealth of primary source information that our Geography faculty are using as the basis for the textbook. It has been hugely encouraging to see how much data and information our federal government is releasing and allowing reuse of.

Now obviously, there are important open government initiatives underway in this province, like, uh, well, you know – this little open project that I am working on and DataBC. But I hope that these open initiatives are just the start in British Columbia and that someday in the near future when we are creating more open educational resources that will benefit the citizens of BC, we’ll have the ability to freely use, reuse and redistribute content from our own provincial government.

Image: Day 1 by BCCampus released under a CC-BY-SA 2 license

Join the BC Open Textbook Community to Review, Adapt or Create an Open Textbook

BCcampus is actively looking for additional instructors to join the BC Open Textbook community to review newly identified textbooks either in the original 40 highest-enrolled subject areas, or in the targeted trades. Selected reviewers are paid an honorarium of $250 per textbook. All of their peer-reviewed open textbooks are rated against a review rubric to ensure consistency and quality. The rubric includes criteria for comprehensiveness, content accuracy, interface, relevance, clarity, grammar, consistency and organizational structure. Our 5-point rating system provides a quick at-a-glance overview of the quality and usability of the open textbook. Additional funding is available for faculty and instructors who wish to adapt a textbook for their own use or create a new one. Textbook adapters and creators receive in-kind institutional contributions that can include instructional design and graphic support, editing and help with online publishing platforms. The BCcampus Open Textbook Program community already includes more than 38 instructors and professors from post-secondary institutions around the province who reviewed existing open textbooks.

Link: http://bccampus.ca/2014/05/20/join-our-open-textbook-community-to-review-adapt-or-create-an-open-textbook/

A Faculty Perspective on Open Textbooks

Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, a professor of psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and chair of the Provincial Psychology Articulation Committee, explores reasons why most faculty are not yet adopting open textbooks. These reasons include that open textbook may not be available for many disciplines and courses; some faculty are skeptical of open textbook quality and hold them to a higher standard than traditional textbooks; there is a need for additional learning materials, such as associated test banks; and finally that the choice of textbook is sometimes not an individual’s decision. Jhangiani summarizes the advantages of open resources and highlights that “there is some evidence to suggest that when an open textbook is carefully adapted to suit a particular program, student performance and retention is actually enhanced.” He concludes, “Ultimately, I believe that it is institutional culture that will need to shift. A university’s strategic priorities need to include moving towards open education. From the president’s office down, open education initiatives need to be supported for these to develop and mature. This includes time releases for faculty adapting/adopting open textbooks, institutional recognition of this work, practical and regularly offered professional development workshops, and the consideration of the development of open educational resources in the files of those on the tenure-track.”


BCcampus Launches Phase Three of the Open Textbook Project: Creation of New Texts

The BC Open Textbook Program, which is coordinated by BCcampus, has announced a new call for proposals from British Columbia faculty interesting in creating new open textbooks to round out their list of 40 highest-enrolled subject areas. Criteria for successful applications include: addressing one of the specific eligible subject areas, documenting any existing open educational resources to be used, exhibiting the characteristics of quality teaching and learning, and more. The deadline for proposals in February 28, 2014 and the deadline for completed projects is September 5, 2014. The goal of the BC Open Textbook Program is “to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources in B.C. by making available 40 openly licensed textbooks in the first and second year most highly enrolled undergraduate subject areas.”

Link: http://bccampus.ca/open-textbook-project/open-textbooks-call-for-proposals-phase-3/

U.S. Senators Offer Bill Promoting Open-Access Textbooks

Two U.S. Senators have introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act, a bill that would “encourage the creation of free online textbooks by offering grants for pilot projects that produce high-quality open-access textbooks, especially for courses with large enrolments.” Grant money would be available to help faculty find and review open textbooks, as well as to conduct research on how well open-access textbooks meet students’ and faculty members’ needs.

Link: https://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/2-senators-will-offer-bill-promoting-open-access-textbooks/48359

B.C. Open Textbooks Call for Proposals for Phase 2: Adapt, Localize or Extend

The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education has announced the second phase of the B.C. Open Textbook Initiative with a call for proposals to adapt, localize or extend an existing open textbook. Adaptations can take many forms, including but not limited to, extending an existing open textbook by creating accompanying instructional resources such as presentation files and test questions, localizing an existing open textbook so that the examples used within it are appropriate for a Canadian context, or bringing together a number of existing open educational resources to create a single text. The deadline for submission is ongoing.

Link: https://bccampus.ca/open-textbook-project/open-textbooks-call-for-proposals-phase-2/