Teach, Learn and Share Freely

Open Education is teaching and learning with resources, tools and practices that can be fully used, shared and adapted. It’s a worldwide movement, and one that we believe all educators and students should be a part of. Here’s why:

What are Open Textbooks?

Open textbooks look and function just like your typical university or college textbook. They’re written by subject experts, are peer-reviewed for accuracy, and contain the same type of information.

One big difference is that open texts exist under Creative Commons licences. This means that they can be used, remixed, and shared without many of the restrictions of traditional copyright. This also creates space for input and collaboration from colleagues and students on the way that courses are structured.

Another benefit of open textbooks is that they are digitally accessible. They can be shared in learning management systems, faculty websites, or downloaded as an attachment. Print versions can also be ordered for a much lower cost than that of a commercial text.

Open textbooks in general, are much, much cheaper than commercial texts. They significantly reduce the financial burden to students seeking an education, which is an important part of ensuring that more people can access higher education.

What Does this Movement Look Like Around the World?

The UNESCO Recommendation on OER is the only existing international standard-setting instrument on OER and is the culmination of the collaborative efforts from a variety of stakeholders.

The Recommendation has five main calls to action:

  1. Building the capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER;
  2. Developing supportive policy for OER;
  3. Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER;
  4. Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and
  5. Promoting and reinforcing international cooperation in OER.

Globally, the Open Education Consortium (OEC) promotes, supports, and advances openness in education around the world. OEC “envisions a world where everyone, everywhere has access to the high quality education and training they desire; where education is seen as an essential, shared, and collaborative social good.”

In Canada, strides have been taken to promote open education across the country. Funding for these initiatives remain at a provincial level and vary greatly between provinces and territories. We are proud to be part of a community of organizations making Canadian post-secondary education more accessible, like BCcampus, eCampus Ontario, Creative Commons Canada, and the Rebus Foundation. In order to facilitate the OER discussion nationally, BCcampus created Canada OER, where individuals working in the field of open education come together, give updates and work to find ways to collaborate. Contact canadaoer@bccampus.ca to join the working group.

The term ‘OER’ emerged in 2002 at UNESCO’s Forum on Open Courseware, where open educational resources were defined as:

teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open licence that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

OER form part of ‘Open Solutions’, alongside Free and Open Source software (FOSS), Open Access (OA), Open Data (OD) and crowd-sourcing platforms.


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