Campus Life  

Textbook project celebrated during Open Access Week

Open Education Resources

Students at Okanagan College have many reasons to celebrate Open Access Week – more than a million in fact.

Since 2013, access to open education resources (OERs) and free access e-texts through the College’s library has saved students more than $1 million and that number continues to pick up the pace with each semester.

A new OER developed by Okanagan School of Business Professor Michael Orwick is just one of those resources that is enhancing access to information and improving student outcomes, all while saving students money.

“We used an open textbook (Principles of Marketing) last year and found that — while it saved the students money — without any support material, it created more work than we could handle because it lacked test banks, PowerPoints, quizzes, videos, flashcards and such,” Orwick explained, adding that the lack of additional materials created a barrier for students in completing the required readings.

He applied for a BCcampus grant designed to encourage the development of OERs across the province, with the goal of possibly creating a “zero textbook cost” program in marketing.

“The investment in creating peripheral material offered a chance to make the open textbook a more valuable tool; one that is flexible and adaptable for each specific class,” Orwick said.

“I really appreciate being able to use a free textbook. As a student on a fixed income it really helps with the finical burden of school,” adds OC business student Laurissa Ivany.

With students not having to spend money on the textbook or ancillary materials, Orwick estimates the one-year savings to marketing students to be $65,000. Orwick contributes to the more than $658,000 in savings overall that OC students have seen thanks to OER adoption since 2013.

OC Kelowna

While cost is one barrier that is reduced when faculty choose to use an open textbook, there are other benefits as well. Students can access the resources in different ways: a downloadable PDF, an online format or even in some cases a format maximized for mobile devices, which adds to their ability to read and learn in multiple locations.

Also saving students money and offering increased flexibility are the free access e-texts offered by the College’s library. Since June 2018, these resources have yielded more than $420,000 in textbook savings for students.

Roen Janyk, Web Services Librarian at OC notes: “The Library has long been supportive of initiatives that support open education and equitable access to information. Whether it is through open teaching resources such as H5P, or our e-textbook program, these examples demonstrate how small investments made by the College can have profound impacts on our students, instructors, and faculty. We have shown that it is possible to create more affordable and equitable access to educational resources.”

To mark Open Education Week, Janyk is presenting on the topic virtually, along with colleagues from four other BC post-secondary institutions, during a webinar offered by BCcampus. Tune in to watch “Open Access in Action: Tales from Five Institutions,” on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. Details can be found on the BCcampus events page: https://bccampus.ca/events/.

Open Access Week is an annual, global event to raise awareness about open access and to call for open access to be the norm in scholarship and research. This year’s theme is “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion.”

“Accessibility of learning materials is a key component of an accessible and inclusive learning environment. Okanagan College is taking strides to remove the barriers of traditional learning materials, and the work by Okanagan School of Business is an example of how education can be more accessible and equitable,” said Meri Kim Oliver, Vice President Students of Okanagan College.

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