The University of Regina Open Textbook Publishing Program provides resources and support to faculty to develop open textbooks on campus. Funding will be used to adopt, adapt, and create open textbooks for use in first- and second-year courses offered at the University of Regina starting in the fall of 2018.
The University of Regina Press is managing the development of these textbooks at our institution and issued a Call for Proposals in Spring 2016. Although the official Call is closed, new applications will be considered and can be submitted by completing the application form (26 K ). Applications should be submitted to Open.Textbooks@uregina.ca.
- University professors adopting open textbooks at the U of R - [Click to read the entire story]
As the cost of textbooks continues to rise, professors at the University of Regina are finding ways to improve access to educational resources and reduce student expenses, through the adoption and use of open textbooks in their courses. Open textbooks are openly licensed academic works that are available in a variety of digital formats with the option to print. They provide creators and adaptors with the ability to reuse, remix, and redistribute textbook material in order to customize or tailor it to their courses. ...
Dr. Mary Vetter , a professor of biology at Luther College at the University of Regina, is helping to lead the way in open textbook adoption on campus.
Vetter first used Concepts of Biology, an open textbook offered through OpenStax, in the 2014 Fall Semester. She used it again in the 2015 Fall Semester and will use it in her future Biology 150 course.
“Everything that I look for in a textbook is available in Concepts of Biology,” explains Vetter. “The textbook is extensively reviewed by many university faculty members. It contains many “interest” boxes, in which current items that stimulate students’ interest in a subject are included in the text. The writing is excellent, interesting, and accessible. And PowerPoint slides of images in the text are available to faculty members. These are very easy to access and I use them extensively.”
When assigning textbooks for her courses, Vetter carefully considers the textbook cost. “I am increasingly aware that textbook prices present a challenge for students, and therefore students often do not buy the textbook,” says Vetter. “In my experience, having ready access to a textbook is very important for student success.”
Students can read Concepts of Biology online, or download it for free as a PDF file; both contain hyperlinks to many internet resources, such as videos of cell division. Recently, the textbook became available as an interactive iBook that can be purchased for $4.99. It includes embedded videos and interactive quiz tools, and demonstrates common biological processes, all through one interface.
Taking the time to properly introduce students to the open textbook is important. “I found that I needed to be very specific about the pages the students should read. If I wasn’t very specific, students printed off more pages than they needed, or were unsure about what to read,” says Vetter. “I think this is because when reading from a paper copy of a book it might be easier to flip through pages and determine the relevant material than it is to scan through pages while viewing a document on a computer monitor.”
At the beginning of each course, she now demonstrates in her class how to access and download the textbook and how to use the study aids. Student feedback on her use of the open textbook has been positive. “I asked students in class the second semester if anyone had any difficulty getting the textbook,” explains Vetter. “Everyone said they had no difficulty. I also said that if students experienced any issues at all they should come and see me and I would help them. No one asked for help, and I feel this is a good indication as I interact with the students a great deal outside of class. Students told me they were grateful for the free textbook.”
For faculty who are interested in adopting or adapting an open textbook, Vetter offers this advice: “It takes time to locate an open source textbook. It was easy to complete my textbook request, as I could just indicate I was using an open source textbook. Spend time at the beginning of the semester showing the textbook to students, and during the class identify materials (e.g. images) you are using directly from the textbook, so they are motivated to download it.”
The University of Regina Press recently launched an open textbook publishing program to support the adoption, adaptation, and creation of open textbooks at the University. For more information on this program, and the Call for Proposals, please contact Elsa Johnston, Program Manager, at Open.Textbooks@uregina.ca