Province offers money for open textbooks

By Riley Hill

A new government initiative might soon bring free online textbooks to the province’s campuses.

On April 9, the Alberta government announced the Open Educational Resources Initiative. The $2 million program will bring together faculty, students and academic staff from across the province to find a way to include open textbooks in undergraduate courses.

Open textbooks have an open source licence that allows professors to make any edits they please. Students download the textbooks for certain courses free of charge, potentially saving them thousands of dollars over their degree.

Open textbooks are typically used in courses with subject matter that rarely changes, such as fundamental mathematics or physics.

Dave Hancock, premier and minister of advanced education, said the decision was made following calls for change from student lobby groups.

“Student groups and leaders have been clear this is an important issue for them. We’ve heard them and are pleased to be responding with this initiative,” Hancock said in a government press release.

Lobby groups that pushed for open textbooks include the Council of Alberta University Students and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

Students’ Union president Raphael Jacob lent his support to the decision.

“It’s a great initiative and I’m glad to see it happen,” he said.

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