For the implementation of its OER program, KPU is listed as “Canada’s leading institutional adopter of Open Textbooks and other Open Educational Resources.”
Open education textbooks provide an affordable alternative for students who need to buy textbooks for their courses. They are reportedly “available to students free of cost in digital formats and at relatively low cost in print format.”
Rajiv Jhangiani, KPU Acting Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning and Associate Vice Provost for Open Education, says that the program benefits both students and faculty members.
“For faculty, it means that textbooks can be localized, contextualized to suit classes and programs,” he says.
This program has been growing since 2012. Now, it offers almost 800 courses with zero textbook costs in programs like the diploma in general studies, associate of arts degree in general studies, associate of arts degree in sociology, and bachelor of arts degree in general studies.
Jhangiani says the university is also publishing more OER textbooks and increasing its partnerships with students.
KPU’s OER team is welcoming Urooj Nizami as its new Open Education Strategist. Jhangiani says her arrival will help support people seeking advice on how to use open textbooks.
Nizami was involved in OERs at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she also worked on a textbook affordability project. She will be working on KPU’s zero textbook cost courses and promoting open education on campus.
OERs helped the school avoid charging students fees “on top of whatever tuition and other fees they’re paying for course materials,” according to Nizami.
“Rather, we would use these open sources or materials that the library is already subscribed and paying for,” she says.
She and others across the campus are considering “the intersections between accessibility and pedagogy and integrating that into the textbook accessibility project.”
The projects received positive feedback from students, and faculty members are researching if their classes performed better with access to OERs.
“Some of the faculty were able to report that it absolutely did help,” Nizami says. “Just having access to their course materials meant that they were more able to be prepared for the class which, of course, led to better results.”