No longer an undergraduate fantasy, free, open textbooks are a current reality and are set to become a regular part of postsecondary education in BC. In October of 2012 the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology announced efforts to have open text books for 40 of BC’s most popular post-secondary courses. (Ministry of Advanced Education, Oct 16, 2012)
The rationale behind the initiative, and the many merits, are outlined at BC Campus, a publicly funded organization working to “make higher education available to everyone, through the smart use of collaborative information technology services.”
Last week, BC Campus and Kwantlen Polytechnic University hosted a day long conference to provide information about the ins and outs of the world of open texts. What a great day! I was introduced to an incredible opportunity for both students and faculty.
Open Texts are largely possible due to continuing innovations in collaborative technology, and the efforts of Creative Commons, “a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools”. In short, they provide free and easy copyright licenses that standardize permissions and help facilitate sharing. This allows authors to ensure that their intellectual property is used by others in ways that best suit the author’s preferences. Anything you create can be easily licensed under the Creative Commons (CC) using their “Choose a License” tool.
Thanks to the generosity of others, we already have a host of introductory and principles of marketing texts available. Through the CC licenses, these works can be updated, modified and customized to best suit individual courses, or programs as long as the terms of the CC license are honoured.
During the conference I couldn’t help but stray a little. I was incredibly curious to see what was available for marketing. With a quick browse I found the following samples:
- Core Concepts of Marketing by John Burnett
- Principles of Marketing by Jeff Tanner & Mary Raymond
- Marketing on Boundless (Boundless goes beyond the traditional text format and allows instructors to choose specific content to build a course of study. It also has other utility like flashcards, quizzes, sharable study notes)
Many online texts are free for download online so students with access to technology can easily bring their “books” with them on their phone, tablet, laptop etc. For those who still want a paper copy rest assured, it can be done, and rather easily. The manager from our campus bookstore, who was sitting at our conference table, assured me that “print to order” options could be easily arranged. To honour the terms of the CC license, these would be sold to cover the costs of printing and binding only and would be in the neighbourhood of $30 or so. (Not bad given most intro marketing texts are well north of $100).
In honour of Open Education Week: March 11-15 I propose a challenge. Take a few minutes to browse some open texts. What do think? What will happen when our textbooks are free?