I’ve been on the road for the past 3 weeks speaking to educators in this province about the BC open textbook project attending & presenting at a number of BCCAT articulation committee meetings and various institutional and provincial faculty professional development events. There was also a trip to Houston, Texas in there to attend the 2013 Connexions conference and code sprint at Rice University, which I will write more about now that I am getting my head above water.
Generally, the reception to the open textbook project has been positive (again, I need to write some reflective debriefing posts about what I have learned in the past few weeks beyond the advice to never do a flight transfer to Victoria through Vegas). But the one point I want to make to any faculty who might read this blog post:
You don’t have to wait for BCcampus.
Sure, there is an “official” project underway in this province, and there are timelines and deliverables and all the other stuff that goes along with a project like this. But adopting an open textbook doesn’t have to happen within the confines of a formal project.
Open textbooks are open educational resources – openly licensed with Creative Commons licenses and openly available to any faculty who wishes to use them.
Go. Evaluate them. Adapt them. Adopt them. Use them.
Now, if you are faculty and want to evaluate and adopt an open textbook, you certainly can do it as part of the BCcampus open textbook project (and we are looking for reviewers of textbooks right now), but you don’t have to wait for this or for any other project to make it happen. If you are a Physics instructor and take a look at an open resource like the OpenStax College Physics textbook, for example, and find it useful – go ahead and use it. In fact, we have already heard of 2 Physics instructors in the province who are seriously considering adopting this textbook for this fall, well ahead of the timelines for adoption that we have for our project. Awesome.
That is the beauty of open textbooks and open educational resources in general. You do not have to work within structures of “official” projects. If you – as a faculty – review the resources and are happy they meet your quality criteria, use it. This is how open works. Yes, there is a bit more work involved in finding quality open textbooks – there is no wine and cheese reception hosted by open textbook authors showing off all the latest new releases. But if you find an openly licensed resource with a Creative Commons license and want to adapt and adopt, do it.
This may sound obvious to some, but over the past few weeks talking to faculty, I have noticed that this basic point is not always obvious to those coming at open educational resources for the first time. OER’s are free to use, adapt, remix, adopt. There is no barrier between faculty and resource. No copyright holders to ask permission from. No gatekeepers. These resources are meant to be used by you in your classroom right now.
This is the beauty of open.