With mid-term exam season in full swing, students have been hitting the textbooks hard. But not before those textbooks hit their wallets even harder this September. Fortunately, help is on the way. In recognition of Open Access Week, the Students’ Union is pleased to celebrate the results of hard (and continuing) work to bring free, open textbooks to courses at TRU!

For two years now, TRU students have told us that more affordable course materials is a priority in the Student Budget Consultation. And it’s no surprise why. Textbook prices have increased 88% between 2006 and 2016 – that’s four times the rate of inflation! The average TRU student can expect to pay $1,500/year on textbooks, and more than $2,000 is not uncommon. The cost is not just a financial burden, but affects students’ education too. A 2017 study in BC found that more than half (54%) of students won’t purchase a required textbook, and more than one in four will take fewer courses or avoid a specific course due to the cost of textbooks (27% and 26%, respectively).

To tackle this challenge, the Students’ Union launched the Open Textbooks campaign in Fall 2016. The campaign promotes “open educational resources” (OER) – course materials created with an open copyright license that gives more rights to end users like students and instructors. That means that OER are available to students free of charge, and can be customized by instructors to suit their courses better. OER are truly a “revolution” in education – taking course materials back from commercial publishers!

The Open Textbooks campaign built strong awareness and support on campus as well as a network of partners in the Library, Open Learning, the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, the Faculty of Arts, and beyond. Presentations were made to each Faculty Council, and over 1,600 students signed a petition calling for a program to support the creation of OER right here at TRU.

Happily, TRU has taken up the proposal and funded an Open Educational Resource Development Grant to provide resources and support to instructors who create open textbooks! In 2018, the granting program has awarded $45,500 to eight faculty members to create new open resources by summer 2019. When used in TRU courses, these are expected to impact 2,200 students and save them $250,000 per year! The program also received so many worthy applications that it was expanded for this year and will receive funding for even more projects over the next two years!

In honour of Open Access Week, the Students’ Union offers thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in the program and the instructors who have received the grants!

OER Development Grant Steering Committee:

  • Kathy Gaynor, Interim University Librarian
  • Brenda Smith, Open Education Librarian
  • Naomi Cloutier, Associate Director, Curriculum Services
  • Catharine Dishke Hondzel, Director, CELT
  • Ken Monroe, Instructional Designer

OER Development Grant Recipients (2018/19):

  • Bruno Cinel, Chemistry
  • Christine Miller, University Preparation
  • Crystal Huscroft, Geography
  • Gloria Ramirez, Education
  • Jamie Noakes and Shawn Read, Career and Experiential Learning Department
  • Renée Anderson, Nursing
  • Shannon Smyrl, Communications and New Media

OER Champions at TRU (among many):

  • Irwin DeVries, Former Associate Vice President Open Learning
  • Michelle Harrison, Interim Director Curriculum Development and Delivery (Open Learning)
  • Brenda Thompson, Associate Dean of Arts

For more information:

Tatiana Gilbert
Alex McLellan
Governance Coordinator