Open UBC Snapshots is a new resource that will quantify and explore emerging trends in open educational practices at UBC. It will be updated twice a year. This edition examines the replacement of traditional textbooks by open and freely available resources.
Open Practices: Increasing Activity and Impact
Since 2011, at least 46,000 UBC students have been impacted by a range of open educational practices, including 16,450 who have been enrolled in courses in which instructors have replaced traditional textbooks with open or freely accessible resources. At least $1.7 to $2.9 million dollars have been saved by UBC students in these courses and these figures are increasing with the numbers of students impacted by open resources in academic year 2016 being double than what it was in 2015.
Please note: Statistics and information in the Open UBC Snapshots are being compiled by the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) with support and input from the broader UBC community. Numbers used in this report represent a snapshot of verified activities at UBC; however, a large portion of open educational practices happen independently and may not be accounted for within this snapshot. Please help us make these snapshots more complete. If you are using open resources in your own teaching and learning or are aware of any open practices or adoptions on campus, please let us know!
What Do We Mean By Open?
“Open” is a significant teaching and learning practice at UBC. UBC faculty and students have a history of engaging with open activities, whether it be in the context of creating and adopting open educational resources (OER), like open textbooks and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), or integrating open pedagogies into their courses. Open activities at UBC include (fig. 1):
- The adoption and adaptation of OER which may include resources like open textbooks or the curation of varied media such as videos and text. The openly licensed materials may also be modified or remixed to contextualize them for specific courses or students.
- The creation of OER including high quality multimedia resources that are used in multiple UBC courses as well as by other institutions across the world.
- The adoption of open education pedagogies and practices that leverage UBC’s open technologies and OER to allow for flexible, authentic, and accessible learning.
- The incorporation of the “student as producer” pedagogical model that emphasizes the role of students as collaborators in the production of knowledge and the benefit of authentic, open audiences for students’ scholarly output.
Adoption of OER: Textbook Displacements
According to the 2016 AMS Academic Experience Survey, the average UBC student spends $650 dollars per year on textbooks. Seventy-five percent of UBC students have forgone the purchase of a textbook due to cost at least once (Table 8, Page 32). The survey also found that close to 37 percent of students reported that they frequently or often do not purchase textbooks dues to cost (Table 9, Page 33). Textbook costs are also rising. According to the Canadian Federation of Students, textbook costs have risen by 2.44 times the rate of inflation since 2008. Likewise, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, textbook prices have increased by 88 percent in the past decade, compared to a 63 percent increase in U.S. college tuition and fees.
While textbook costs are rising, the number of students enrolled in courses using open resources is increasing as well. At UBC, the number of students impacted by open textbook displacements in academic year 2016 (8,400) is double that of academic year 2015 (4,087) (Fig. 2).
Since 2011, at least 59 UBC courses have used open textbooks, OERs, or freely accessible resources instead of traditional textbooks. And if we look across those past five years, 16,450 UBC students have enrolled in courses using open textbooks.
This year, 16 math courses are using open or free textbooks. More than 7,000 students are enrolled in these courses, and collectively they are saving between $608,000 and $1,024,000. Read the full story.
The potential cost savings for students has also increased dramatically over the past few years. The replacement of traditional textbooks with open resources has potentially saved UBC students between $1.7 to $2.9 million since 2011. This range reflects alternative buying options available for students including new, used and rental textbooks and is based on the approach used by the BC Open Textbook project to estimate savings. The high end of the range is based on new textbook prices and course enrolments while low end value is calculated based on an average cost of $100 per student per textbook. At UBC, savings in academic year 2016 are estimated at $843,000-$1.4 million, while savings in academic year 2015 are estimated at $479,000- $789,000 (Fig 3).
Instructors in the Math Department have adopted open or freely accessible resources in all first year and most second-year course and, as a result, the largest portion of courses that are using open resources are within the Faculty of Sciences (Fig 4).
Institutional support for OER Adoption
Both UBC-Vancouver and UBC-Okanagan campuses have adopted open strategies in the context of innovation funding. Both the UBC-V Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, which includes a 2017 focus area on the development or integration of OER, and the Aspire Teaching and Learning Fund at UBC-O help encourage faculty to develop and integrate open educational resources that can be used in single or multiple courses, and that are licensed as Creative Commons to allow for broad sharing within and beyond UBC. Additionally, the UBC Library, the UBC Bookstore, and the CTLT supported the AMS in their #TextbookBroke campaign to raise awareness about the impact of textbook fees on student learning.
In 2012, the BC Ministry of Advanced Education created the the B.C. Open Textbook Project with a goal to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources by making available openly-licensed textbooks in the highest-enrolled academic subject areas. UBC faculty and staff have also worked with the project: two UBC faculty have served as Open Textbook Fellows and two faculty have reviewed BC Open Textbooks. Additionally, the British Columbia in a Global Context first year geology textbook, the Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) field trips, and the PHYS100/PHYS117 course redesigns to integrate open textbooks as the principal content sources have been funded at UBC by the project.
UBC has also held a number of events, including open textbook or ancillary materials sprints to promote open educational practice. Additionally, the UBC Library has added the BC open textbooks to its catalogue and provides support in finding, creating, and evaluating open resources. Please see the Appendix for a sample of open textbooks that have been used at UBC.
Additional Textbook Strategies
In addition to open educational strategies, UBC has steadily built institutional support across both campuses to provide students access to high quality learning materials while finding alternative models for reducing costs. For example, the UBC Bookstore has increased purchasing options for students seeking textbooks and learning materials by promoting textbook rentals, used books and custom course materials packages. These strategies resulted in approximately $1.9 million in savings for students in the past two years. The UBC Library has extended its copyright office resources and technical systems to support faculty use of licensed and open access scholarly materials in its collection. Many faculty forego textbooks entirely and use, instead, scholarly articles and data available through the Library (and available to students through the campus LMS), using LOCR, a system that ensures copyright compliance.
While “open” is an established practice at UBC, the adoption of open resources as a principal educational content source is rapidly increasing. By both lowering barriers to access and adapting resources to their specific teaching context, UBC faculty are embracing the idea expressed by Dr. Arthur Gill Green, a former postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Geography at UBC, that open educational resources are “foundational to engaging with responsible pedagogy.”
The next Open UBC Snapshot, to be published in early 2017, will shift focus from resource adoption to open practices and pedagogies. If you are interested in finding or sharing more information about open educational resources or open practices at UBC, please see the resources section at open.ubc.ca or contact us.
Appendix: Sample of Open Textbooks Used at UBC
Please help us make this list more complete: if you are using an open resource at UBC, please let us know!
Lucas Wright, Cindy Underhill, and Heather McCabe helped research and write this Open UBC Snapshot.