Open Textbook Integration Catching on at USask


A year ago we ran a reprint of a blog post by Professor Eric Micheels who teaches in the College of Agriculture and Bioresource. As far as I know, Eric was the first instructor on campus to adopt an open textbook instead of having students buy a commercial textbook. He saved the students in the class about $27,000 by doing so.

Open textbooks are free, digital textbooks that instructors can customize to meet their specific needs, or use them as is. These open texts are written by instructors and many go through a peer review process. The book that Eric adopted includes a test bank and other ancillary resources, as do many open textbooks.

In the year since Eric wrote that blog post, five other instructors on campus have adopted open textbooks for courses in the Edwards School of Business (ESB), and the Departments of Chemistry and Economics. Eric is using the same open textbook again this year along with another for a different course. As a result of all of these adoptions, approximately 900 students are saving around $100 each for a total of $90,000 in savings for students at the U of S this academic year.

One of the adoptions in ESB is by co-instructors Noreen Mahoney and Professor Brooke Klassen for the required course Business Competencies, which has about 350 students between two sections. These instructors are taking an existing open textbook and revising it, combining it with other open materials to create the textbook that will best meet their, and their students needs.

Karla Panchuk, an instructor in the Department of Geology contributed a chapter to a new open geology textbook produced through BCcampus. This book, Physical Geology was released in late September.

Other instructors on campus are reviewing open textbooks to provide feedback to the OpenStax College open textbook project (the same organization that created the book Eric Micheels is using) and to determine if the book would be appropriate for their own courses. BCcampus offers instructors in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba $250 to review textbooks within their expertise that are currently in the BCcampus open textbook collection.

To assist in keeping the momentum going for an increasing number of adoptions, adaptations, reviews, and creations of open textbooks, the U of S will be implementing a granting process to fund the adaptation and creation of open textbooks and needed ancillary materials. Information about the funding and the application process will be available in November.

For more information about open textbooks in general or how to integrate them into your own teaching, please contact the GMCTE.

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