The high cost of educational resources and textbooks create a serious obstacle to the accessibility and affordability of a post-secondary education. Traditional educational resources also present barriers to innovation in pedagogy and curriculum design. Fortunately, Open Educational Resources (OER) are a viable solution to both these problems, since they can be accessed for free online or printed at a fraction of the cost of a traditional textbook. They can also be edited to better fit the curricular or pedagogical goals of an instructor.
Former Simon Fraser Student Society External Relations Officer and President Chardaye Bueckert, when asked why she began advocating for greater open textbook adoption, said, “Open textbooks present an opportunity to make university more affordable and to improve educational outcomes by ensuring that all students can access course materials, regardless of their financial means. I was eager to save Simon Fraser University students money by promoting the high-quality, free resources made available through the B.C. Open Textbook initiative as an alternative to traditional costly textbooks.”
In British Columbia, OER have been funded by the provincial government, a number of universities and colleges, and the Hewlett Foundation. Though there has been quite a concerted effort within the open community to promote the creation of open resources, widespread uptake at post-secondary institutions has not followed.
Student support and advocacy for OER is important to:
- ensure that OER gain or continue to build momentum on campuses,
- bring together community members, and
- push for the adoption and creation of resources.
Greater OER adoption results in:
- an increase in the amount of student dollars saved,
- pedagogical benefits in the classroom, and
- benefits to society more broadly.
For more information, see the BCcampus OER Student Toolkit and find out more about how YOU can advocate for open education at your institution. For information about OER activities at campuses across North America, see SPARC’s Connect OER.
Are you interested in starting an open education campaign at your institution and need materials (stickers, posters, and other print material) from BCcampus? Fill out the form and we will send you what you need.
Note: Materials are only available to students attending a post-secondary institution in B.C. Other students should contact the appropriate body in their province. See Canada’s Open Education Initiatives for details.