Textbook costs represent a considerable barrier to participation in education both in the US and elsewhere around the world. With the cost of textbooks rising over 800% in the past 40 years (Moules, 2016) and US student loan debt currently standing at $1.4 trillion, the drive to mainstream and strategically embed the use of open educational resources (OER) such as open textbooks has saved students in the United States millions of dollars, at the same time increasing engagement in educational opportunities. Students in the UK face similar challenges: student loan debt now stands at more than £100billion (Coughlan, 2017) whilst the average cost of books and equipment per academic year is around £512 (Gov.UK).
The Open Textbook Library defines open textbooks as “textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost”.
In this workshop we build on work by David Ernst of the Open Textbook Network to discuss to what extent the arguments employed to support the adoption of open textbooks in the US apply in the context of UK HE institutions; we consider examples of open textbook adoption, adaptation and creation; and invite participants to browse the Open Textbook Library and possibly write a brief evaluative review.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
This workshop is part of the Hewlett-funded UK Open Textbook Project.
Open textbooks have seen impressive growth and impact in the North American context, through providers and initiatives such as OpenStax, the Open Textbook Network, BC Campus, and Lumen Learning. With the exception of Siyavula in South Africa however, the open textbook model has largely been restricted to North America.
Whether this is a result of particular contextual dependencies (such as the relative cost of textbooks) or because this is where the funding and interest has been focused is as yet unknown. The aim of the UK Open Textbook Project then is to test the transferability of this model to a new context, namely that of UK HE institutions.
Between July 2017 and May 2018, the UK Open Textbook project conducted a number of workshops, presentations and webinars, and exhibited at practitioner conferences with the aim of evaluating the viability of different methods for uptake of open textbooks in the UK, and what can be generalised for adoption of open textbooks elsewhere. Our conversations with educators and support staff will form an integral part of the workshop we propose.
Moules, J. (2016). Rising price of textbooks reaches a tipping point. [online] Financial Times. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/e7aed422-16c4-11e6-b197-a4af20d5575e [Accessed 05 June 2018].
Coughlan, S. (2017). 10 charts that show the effect of tuition fees. [online] BBC Education. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40511184 [Accessed 05 June 2018].
Department for Education (2018). Student income and expenditure survey 2014 to 2015. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/student-income-and-expenditure-survey-2014-to-2015 [Accessed 05 June 2018].
Open Textbook Library. Available at: https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/ [Accessed 05 June 2018].
Resources for participants
UK Open Textbooks Project http://ukopentextbooks.org/
Open Textbook Library https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/