An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. They are available for free as online versions, and as low-cost printed versions, should students opt for these (BCcampus, n.d.).
Open textbooks are part of a larger movement called "Open Educational Resources" (OER). Open licenses allow instructors to adapt, remix, or customize existing open textbooks to maximize instructional content to meet their own learning objectives. Many open textbooks are developed through traditional peer review, others are vetted by experts. As with any textbook, the instructor is the final judge of whether an open textbook meets the needs of the course.
Image attribution: open book by Nociconist from the Noun Project
BCcampus was formed in 2012 to improve access to education for students across BC and the world. they advocate and provide access to learning opportunities about open pedagogy, supporting open access, and encouraging instructional design that is based on open licenses. BCcampus champions opportunities to improve learning materials and educational resources.
"Textbooks are to students as medicines are to doctors – that is, faculty prescribe the textbooks but students are the ones that have to pay for them. And when a Big Publisher releases an exciting report about the efficacy of a new textbook or product like MyMathLab, that study will have been conducted in a controlled lab setting where Pearson guarantees that every student is using the product. “Great!” a faculty member reading the report might think, “we’ve cured math cancer! I’ll adopt this product!” But if MyMathLab is so expensive that the majority of students in a course can’t afford to buy it, we’re back to not having cured anything. Big Publishers’ claims about “highly effective materials” seem completely out of touch to students (and their parents) who can’t afford them." (David, Wiley, n.d.)
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