Open textbooks for classes on the horizon

By Tendayi Moyo

Following the direction of post-secondary institutions in British Columbia, the Students’ Union is looking to bring open textbooks to the University of Calgary.

Open textbooks would be made available to students online, free of charge and licensed under an open copyright. This means instructors can edit these textbooks as they see fit.

“Right now, the vast majority of professors are using textbooks that they had no hand in shaping,” said SU vice-president external Conner Brown. “With this open-textbook platform, all the content is there and rather than shape the course around the textbook, [professors can] shape the textbook around the course.”

Brown recently met with U of C Faculty Association president Paul Rogers to discuss open textbooks.

One worry is that open textbooks could add to professors’ workloads. Brown said he understands that faculty will have to get on board with the program for it to be successful.

“It comes down to buy in,” Brown said. “There would definitely be a little bit more work involved.”

Because open textbooks will only be offered for a handful of introductory courses, the program is not expected to have any significant impact on the Bookstore’s revenues.

Brown feels the program can mitigate costs for first- and second-year students and take away some hurdles for prospective students.

“It’s about removing barriers,” Brown said. “We pay so much for an education and that can be such a scary thing for somebody coming into university.”

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