New open textbook program to help reduce cost of textbooks for students

By Costa Maragos Posted: March 9, 2016 10:00 a.m.

(l-r) Bruce Walsh, Director and Publisher of U of R Press and Dr. Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic).
(l-r) Bruce Walsh, Director and Publisher of U of R Press and Dr. Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic). Photo by Trevor Hopkin - U of R Photography.

The plan for open-source course materials is moving forward at the University of Regina.

Faculty are being invited to submit proposals to develop open textbooks and ancillary materials for students in first and second-year classes.

The application deadline is April 25. University of Regina Press is overseeing the project.
“This is a real opportunity for faculty to become part of the Open Access movement and make education at University of Regina a more affordable experience for students,” says Bruce Walsh, Director and Publisher of U of R Press. “Thanks to support from the province, faculty can access resources to make that possible.”

Funding is available to support the use and development of openly licensed textbooks that can be downloaded or printed for use by students enrolled in first or second-year classes.

Open Access Link

What is open access? Click the link here for a look at the world of open access publishing.

“We are focussed on first and second year students as their classes generally have the highest enrollments. Having access to open source materials will give these students a financial break,” says Walsh.

The “Open Textbook Development Fund” will help cover costs associated with publishing, developing teaching aids or other instructional supports, and collaborating with other post-secondary institutions to encourage knowledge-sharing.

Open textbooks give instructors the ability to customize and tailor the work to meet the needs of their particular courses, such as adding local content and new chapters, or rewriting introductions and creating new test-banks or quizzes.

Ultimately the development of open textbooks means lower costs for students.

“The rising cost of education is a concern to all of us. If there are ways that we can provide students with high quality, peer reviewed materials, and materials prepared by local faculty members who know this region then it’s going to make for a very rich educational experience,” says Dr. Thomas Chase Provost and Vice-President (Academic). “And then of course there is the tremendous possibility of saving students substantial amounts of money during their university education .”

U of R Press recently published Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commoditization of Human Discovery, edited by Patricia W. Elliott and Daryl H. Hepting, as its first Open Access book. Available online for free, it was chosen as an “Editor’s Pick” by Library Journal, and sold out the first run of the physical book in a matter of weeks. Additionally the Press has made Prairie Forum an Open Access online journal.

“University of Regina Press is committed to producing as many Open Access materials as resources permit,” says Walsh. “We believe that Open Access publishing will help level the playing field between the haves and have-nots, spur more research, and lead to a renaissance in academic inquiry.”

A panel discussion with faculty members, who are developing, wanting to, or using Open Educational Resources, takes place Friday, March 11, 10:30 a.m. at the Dr. John Archer Library. The session coincides with Open Education Week, March 7-11 which is held each year around the world to “raise awareness about free and open educational opportunities.”

An information session for potential applicants takes place March 23, 10:30 – 11:45 a.m. in LY 610 (sixth floor of the Library building)

For information on the Open Textbook Development Fund please visit here.