Conference addresses past, present and future of open education

By Heather McCabe posted on January 1st, 2016


Vancouver recently hosted the 12th annual Open Education Conference, bringing together hundreds of experts and organizations to talk about open education. Event speakers explored a range of topics, from open education resources (OERs) and better accessibility to open learning data and massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

Spurred by the desire to make education accessible to all, the open education movement gained ground as the Internet evolved and enabled the easy sharing of different forms of media. Open education revolves around the facilitation of the free and open sharing and re-mixing of ideas, practices and knowledge.

Open education practices can include student produced content, adoption of open textbooks, and making course materials and media available online.

In 2012 the BC Ministry of Advanced Education launched the B.C. Open Textbook Project to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources in the province. The project now has more than 120 open textbooks available to post-secondary students, which the government says translates to more than $1 million in savings for students.

At UBC, students are benefiting from open textbook adoptions across campus, with savings of at least $250,000 in Math and over $90,000 in Physics. Instructors are increasingly making their course materials openly available online.

This fall, the Alma Mater Society (AMS) at UBC also started the #textbookbrokeBC campaign to raise awareness around open textbooks and advocate for more open textbook and OER use in courses.