Postsecondary students in British Columbia may get a bit of a break when it comes time to buy their textbooks this fall. In the first move of its kind in Canada, the B.C. government said it will make available up to 20 free and open online textbooks for some of the most popular first- and second-year university and college courses.
There’s no guarantee that faculty will choose to assign the new textbooks, but proponents of the project are hoping that rigorous quality control measures and a little nudging from students will win them over. The textbooks also will be available to institutions, faculty and students across Canada to use at no charge.
The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology launched the initiative in 2012, promising to offer students open textbooks in 40 of the most popular subject areas. It has committed $1 million to fund the venture. BCcampus, the provincial agency overseeing the project, is rolling it out in phases. It recently released a list of the 40 most highly enrolled first- and second-year subject areas for which it is sourcing textbooks. It also identified 10 existing open textbooks, mainly first-year introductory texts. The agency issued a call for proposals to faculty members and teaching assistants to peer review the books and is making available an evaluation rubric to use for the reviews. Read more.