A provincial government initiative in partnership with BCcampus is helping students save money by making digital textbooks available for free in some high-demand classes. Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani was the first Capilano U instructor to use one of the free textbooks in his Research Methods in Psychology class last fall, saving his students $150 each. For details about the initiative, read the Ministry of Advanced Education’s media release below.

Students saving money with open textbooks

British Columbia’s open textbooks project already has helped almost 300 post-secondary students, who saved an average of $146 each on their textbook costs for the fall 2013 semester.

“In just a few months since we made our first batch of open textbooks freely available online in September, students are reporting sizable savings,” said Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. “And the benefits for students and faculty will continue to grow as we develop open textbooks for more subjects, and more instructors around the province have a chance to review and use them in their classes.”

Open textbooks are an attractive option for students, and faculty who ultimately choose the textbooks used. Open textbooks are digital and open to being modified and adapted by instructors to fit the needs of their students and course requirements.

Individual instructors at Capilano University, Douglas College, the Justice Institute of B.C., Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Langara College and Northwest Community College used open textbooks in the fall 2013 semester, bringing collective savings of over $43,000 to students.

For example:

  • 60 students taking introductory physics at Kwantlen Polytechnic University were assigned an open textbook that replaced a traditional textbook costing $187, for a collective saving of $11,220.
  • 40 students using an open textbook for their statistics course at the Justice Institute of B.C. saved $100 each.
  • 35 students at Douglas College saved a total of $5,600 using an open textbook for their database management class.
  • 20 management students using an open textbook at Northwest Community College saved $103 each for a class saving of $2,060.

“It’s nice to be able to go online, download the chapters that you need, and not have to carry a giant textbook around with you,” said Robert Payer, a student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University who used an open textbook for his physics class. “I’ve saved $190 this semester, which makes a huge difference when you’re on a tight budget.”

British Columbia is the first province in Canada to develop open textbooks for 40 highly enrolled, post-secondary subject areas. In the first phase of the project, 15 open textbooks in a range of subjects including math, chemistry, psychology and business were peer-reviewed by B.C. faculty and made available for free download in September 2013.

“Instead of forcing my students to purchase the leading softcover textbook for $130, I posted the open textbook for free on the course website, collectively saving my students $5,200 this semester,” said Rajiv Jhangiani, psychology professor at Capilano University.

Open textbooks in more subject areas currently are being reviewed and adapted by faculty for use in British Columbia, and are available online from BCcampus. In addition, 20 open textbooks will be developed for skills training and technical post-secondary subject areas.

The open textbook project is being co-ordinated on government’s behalf by BCcampus, a publicly funded organization that aims to make higher education available to everyone, through the smart use of collaborative information technology services.

View or download open textbooks at BCcampus. Learn more about the B.C. open textbook project.

Submitted by Marketing & Communications