Minister visits UBC to talk about open textbooks

By emi1989 posted on February 28th, 2017

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson visited a social psychology class at UBC on February 10, to talk to students about how they have benefitted from the use of open textbooks.

“The B.C. government continues to put students first by reducing student costs and making post-secondary education more accessible with open textbooks,” said Wilkinson. “The benefits of open textbooks will only continue to grow as more faculty and institutions adopt these open educational resources.”

Students at UBC have saved over $1 million through the Open Textbook Project, which provides flexible and affordable access to higher education resources. Since joining the project, the university has seen 51 open textbook adoptions, which has helped to reduce education costs for over 8,200 students.

Benjamin Cheung, a lecturer in the UBC department of psychology, uses the free open textbook ‘Principles of Social Psychology’ to teach PSYCH 308, an elective course that hundreds of UBC students take every year.

“Using open textbooks alleviates some of the financial pressures for these students,” said Cheung. “Not only is this open textbook comparable to others in terms of quality, but it also gives me more freedom and control as an educator over what goes into the course and what students take away from the instruction.”

The adoption of open textbooks is widespread on campus. In the 2016 academic year, instructors in 16 math courses have adopted open or free textbooks. With 7,000 students enrolled in these courses, collectively they are saving between $608,000 and $1,024,000.

Kevin Doering, a fourth-year economics student and associate vice president, academic and university affairs at the UBC Alma Mater Society, said he recently used an open textbook for a microeconomics course that saved him about $200.

“Open textbooks not only help alleviate financial stress for students, but also often improve the quality of course content,” said Doering. “Since open textbooks allow instructors to customize materials for their course, they can move away from the more traditional method of teaching chapter-by-chapter, which results in a more engaging classroom experience.”

For more information about open education at UBC, please visit The BC Open Textbook collection can be found at The curated collection aligns with the top 40 subject areas in BC and includes reviews by BC post-secondary faculty.