Welcome to the College Open Textbooks Blog

This blog was created to keep our expanding audience informed about what is going on in the world of Open Textbooks and related topics. Please read and enjoy the posts. You are encouraged to add any comments that add to the discussion.



June 2016
« Aug    


OER University grows and seeks input

BC Campus and WikiEducator invite learners and educators to provide input input about credentials for the OER University. This exciting initiative was launched in early 2011 and is now backed by 7 institutions in 4 countries:

  • Athabasca University (Canada)
  • Thompson Rivers University (Canada)
  • Empire State College (USA)
  • University of Southern Queensland (Australia)
  • Unisa (University of South Africa)
  • Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand)
  • Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (New Zealand)

Scholars can join the discussions on a SCoPE seminar between August 29 and September 13, 2011. Results will feed to the planning meeting scheduled for November, 2011. OER University seeks to create pathways for learners who use OER materials to gain academic credentials from established educational institutions.

OER Logic Model


At the launch of OER University in February 2011,  Anil Prasad  commented: “I support Open Educational Resources movement. I firmly believe that Open Distance Learning (ODL) supported by Open Educational Resources (OER) would build the Inclusive Mainstream Education System in the immediate future.” Mr. Prasad is Nodal Officer (T&D), Finance Department, Govt. of Kerala, India. The two-day launch meeting in New Zealand featured lively theoretical and practical discussions. Professor Jim Taylor, from the University of Southern Queensland led discussions on the OER university concept and introduced the logic model shown above. He listed some of the factors driving new education models:

  •  the need for 18 million new teachers
  •  the doubling of post-secondary students in the next decade
  •  the need to build roughly one new university per week in India alone to meet the future demand for learning.

Professor Taylor summarized: “This is not theoretical speculation, it is entirely viable.”


Hats off to British Columbia!

BCcampus, the educational technology and online learning service organization for higher education in British Columbia has promoted development and reuse of open educational resources (OER) within its 25 post-secondary campuses and partners since 2003. Headquartered in Vancouver, it has disbursed 9 million dollars through its Online Program Development Fund(OPDF) over the last 8 years. The OPDF encourages collaborative consortiums of British Columbia post-secondary institutions, national and international universities, K-12 districts, eLearning companies, and other non-profits to seek funds for the creation and re-use of online courses and learning objects leading to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. In 2011, it is funding projects as diverse as Aboriginal Early Childhood Education diplomas to British Columbia/China Contemporary Forest TED talks for a credit-bearing course preparing Chinese students to enter higher education programs in British Columbia.

Paul Stacey, BCcampus Director of Communications and Academic Relations

Paul Stacey, BCcampus Director

Paul Stacey, Director of Communications, Stakeholder and Academic Relations and OPDF administrator was recently interviewed at Creative Commons about differences between OER projects funded through private foundation grants and public funds. Although the goal of expanding access to educational opportunities is the same, he identified several key differentiators between private and public funding: one regarding sustainable outcome objectives and the second around open licensing strategies. “The foundation’s primary responsibility is to the founder, while a government ministry’s primary responsibility is to its tax-paying citizens,” says Paul. The regional aspect of publicly funded projects leads to a focus and accountability to the citizens of that region whereas private foundations often have global and humanitarian goals. Furthermore, private OER grants often have a specific start and end date where as publicly funded initiatives are more concerned with ongoing program viability and thus may continue funding of operating costs.

Open licensing strategies also differ between privately and publicly funded OER materials. Foundation grants for OER have generally gone to a single prestigious institution that publishes existing lectures and course materials where as public funds are more likely to be awarded to a consortium of regional institutions to develop curricula for credit. This has lead to a continuum of open licensing strategies with foundation grants tending towards the more broadly applicable Creative Commons licenses recognized worldwide whereas publicly funded OER projects such as BCcampus use regionally recognized licenses derived from Creative Commons licensing but limiting reuse to consortium institutions.

Open Licenses Continuum BCCampus

Open Licenses Continuum BCCampus

One recommendation Paul makes is for OER projects to offer a range of licensing options along the “open” continuum. “Multiple options provide greater buy-in and lower the threshold for OER participation,” suggests Paul. Although the downside of more restrictive licenses in creating silos of OER, it allows educators new to the OER world a more gradual entry into sharing and tends to increase the local re-use of materials. Further refinement of OER licenses is clearly needed and integrating their default use into commercial software used by faculty to build materials would also be helpful.

Last month BCcampus and a consortium of Pacific Northwest higher education institutions were awarded a $750,000 Next Generation Learning Grant based on online science courses and Remote Web-Based Science Lab. The North American Network of Science Labs Online (NANSLO) consortium is adding science labs to online science courses allowing student to perform scientific experiments including observation, remote control of instrumentation, and data analysis as students in classroom-based courses do.


Sponsorship Program for Advocate Trainers Announced

Make Education Affordable!  Help us open more doors!

College Open Textbooks is focused on driving the awareness and advocacy of open textbooks for students and we need your help in opening more doors!  Faculty members are fast becoming advocates and trainers in the use of open textbooks on their local campuses. They are helping us open doors to more affordable textbook options for students and colleges.

Our new sponsorship program, “Open Textbooks, Open Doors” advocacy workshops, will enable us to extend the reach of our advocate trainer program to more faculty across the country. We have plans to host workshops in CA, IL, KY, NY, VA, and WA but we need sponsorship support.  Sponsor one workshop at $1,500, provide matching funds, or become a major program sponsor at any level between $15,000 and $30,000. This will provide stipends for the trainers of the “Open Textbooks, Open Doors” advocacy workshops.

We have already seen the success of these workshops in driving awareness and advocacy amongst faculty.  Here is a summary of our successes to date:

  • Fourteen “Train-the-trainer” workshops both online and in person CA, FL, GA, KY, MD, MI, TX, and WA.
  • Over 50 educators have signed up to be trainers.
  • Over 35 “Open Textbooks, Open Doors” workshops have been given by the newly trained advocates, fueling a growing grass-roots advocacy initiative to make textbooks more affordable

Sponsorship Benefits:

  • Focused access to educators who could become customers or advocates for you
  • Branding and marketing to the education community via signage at the workshops, marketing   flyers, blogs and on the College Open Textbooks website
  • Sponsorship Recognition Certificate as a thank you for your support
  • Press Release, expressing our gratitude and giving the sponsor a public thank you
Want to learn more about College Open Textbooks sponsorships, contact Mitchell Levy at mitchell.levy@collegeopentextbooks.org or via phone at +1 408 257-3000.