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Kelowna  

Textbook case of saving

Okanagan College students are saving big with free online textbooks.

The college ranked third in open textbook adoption out of 31 participating post-secondary institutions in B.C. Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Camosun College ranked first and second.

BCcampus’s Open Textbook Project, an online repository of open educational resources, allows students and educators to use textbooks at no cost under a creative commons licence. It currently has more than 170 books on a wide range of common post-secondary courses ­– everything from social science and business to trades and adult literacy upgrading courses.

“The biggest perk of open textbooks are the cost-savings – saving money as a student will always come first,” said second-year environmental studies student Ryan McAllister.

“The speed at which you can move through an online text to search or reference a specific topic and the ability to access your text anywhere without having to carry a book is great.”

OC president Jim Hamilton said the college is committed to minimizing barriers to post-secondary education.

Geography professor Dr. Arthur Gill Green has been an online advocate since 2010, when he discovered three of his students sharing a textbook because they couldn’t each afford to buy one. He also helps write the online material.

Since 2012, 1,260 Okanagan College students have saved more than $190,000 because of the program, and more than 22,000 B.C. students have used open textbooks.

The project is the only one of its kind in Canada. It's funded by an operating grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education and recently received a $525,000 per annum grant from the Hewlett Foundation to expand its operations.

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