Week in Review: Week 38, 2014

I’m trying to get into a habit of doing these week in review posts on Friday’s, but last Friday was a bit busier than expected as my Dad and his girlfriend arrived in town for a weekend visit.

  • Amanda and I had our first meeting with the Ministry of Advanced Education as part of my new (temporary) role at BCcampus.
  • Met with the OER Research Hub and one of our Faculty Fellows, Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani. Rajiv is going to work with Beck Pitt to conduct research with BC post-secondary faculty on open textbooks.
  • Started developing the faculty survey in LimeSurvey.
  • We released 2 new open textbooks, the BC in a Global Context open geography textbook, and an adapted Canadian Edition of Mastering Strategic Management.
  • Finalized the open textbook newsletter layout with our communications department.
  • Fixed the wording on the newsletter unsubscribe page.
  • Compiled some new open textbook stats for the Ministry meeting., The one that jumped out at me was that out of 962 students in BC using an open textbook, less than 19 physical printed books were ordered from our print supplier, Document Solutions at SFU. That represents less than 2% of students purchasing printed textbooks (and we can’t confirm that all the orders are actually students as many faculty are ordering printed review copies for themselves, so the 19 orders may also include faculty). We’ll be posting some of the stats over on the BCcampus OpenEd site. * this post was edited after originally published. See below.
  • Reviewed 7 open textbook applications from institutions and organizations for the call for proposals on developing textbooks for trades and skills training open textbooks.
  • Met with College Open Textbooks to discuss ways we can cooperate and share adoption data as this information is very difficult and time consuming to collect.
  • Met and had lunch with Tony Bates on Friday to discuss his experiences with Pressbooks Textbooks. Tony has been a beta user as he openly authors his latest book, Teaching in a Digital Age, and he had some very useful feedback that will help influence future development of the platform.
  • Reconciled the open textbook budget and did some financial forecasting for the next year. As much as this might sound like drudgery for some, I find I really enjoy cracking open a spreadsheet and both plan and reconcile the financial bits and pieces of the project.
  • Met with our new Manager of Professional Learning, Tracy Kelly, to discuss and plan the next 6 months’ professional learning activities and how the PL team can support the work of the OTB team.
  • Started working on fall offerings of the Adopting Open Textbooks online course.
  • Developed some research questions for our Faculty Fellows, who will be coming to Victoria on October 6 for a day long kick-off meeting with us.
  • Reviewed the application process for a Hewlett grant. We’re considering an application for some funding to support some of the activities of the OTB project that we don’t have the ability to do right now..

Finally, here in British Columbia, the labour dispute between provincial k-12 teachers and the provincial government that has kept kids out of schools since mid-June  was finally resolved. Today my kids did what many other kids across Canada did weeks ago and headed to school to start their new year.

Back to School* This post was edited to fix the reference to the number of students who are using open textbooks in BC. The original number posted was 2630. This was incorrect (I included students who will be using open textbooks in upcoming terms). The correct number of students using an open textbook is 962. I’ve also adjusted the % of orders of physical books. The number remains 19, but the percentage changes from <1% to <2% (1.9% to be accurate).


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.


4 thoughts on “Week in Review: Week 38, 2014

  1. __I agree, Clint, <1% of students ordering printed textbooks is noteworthy, in light of the fact that Students enter university having well established print textbook expectations and usage patterns. Perhaps the 16 Faculty who have adopted an open textbook would poll their students for feedback on the decision to use only the online textbook.

  2. __Always interesting, thanks Clint. The new open textbook stats you plan to post to BCcampus OpenEd site will be very informative. _ as you mentioned, “out of 2630 students in BC using an open textbook this fall, less than 19 physical printed books were ordered from our print supplier, Document Solutions at SFU. That represents less than 1% of students purchasing printed textbooks.” [I understand BCcampus serves approx 200,000 BC Students and offers approx 60 open textbooks]

    1. Hi Don,

      Less than 1% of students who are using an open textbook this fall purchased a physical copy. Even though our organization serves all the post-sec institutions in BC (which is where the 200k number comes from), not ever student is using an open textbook. Indeed, the open textbook project is just one of the ways BCcampus serves the post-sec system and – by extension – students here in BC. It’s just one program.

      Adoption of textbooks, as you know, is at the discretion of individual faculty and this fall we know of 16 faculty at 8 institutions who are using an open textbook in their class. There are 2630 students enrolled in the courses that those 16 faculty are teaching.

      I should also mention that these are only the adoptions that we know of. Faculty who use our open textbooks are under no obligation to report back to us that they are using a textbook. The way we collect our information is very conservative and relies on snowball sampling of the people who report to us that they use an open textbook. We suspect that there are many more adoptions of open textbooks in the system that we do not know about because the adopters never contact us.

      The telling stat for me, however, is the <1% of students ordering printed textbooks when we are told, over and over again, that students prefer physical textbooks. Now, while this is only one avenue whereby students can print the content (some may choose to print their textbooks at their local institution's or take a copy of a PDF to Staples and print it there), but these order statistics seem to imply that, when given a choice between a free digital version and a low cost printed copy, students overwhelmingly prefer digital to print.

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