The Adoption of an Open Textbook in a Large UBC Physics Course

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The Adoption of an Open Textbook in a Large Physics Course: An Analysis of Cost, Outcomes, Use, and Perceptions

Christina Hendricks, Stefan A. Reinsberg, Georg W Rieger, IRRODL, June 2017

There have been numerous classroom studies that examine the results of replacing a commercial resource with an open resource. Like previous studies, the results of this study show similar results; that students who use an open textbook vs a commercial textbook save significant amounts of money, have similar learning outcomes, and perceive the quality of the open resource to be as good if not better than a commercial product.

What makes this case unique is that it focuses on an adapted resource. While faculty adopting open resources is becoming more common, faculty adapting those resources to fit their pedagogical needs are not nearly as common. This despite the fact that the open license gives faculty the right to modify and adapt the resources, theoretically to make them pedagogically stronger for their specific teaching & learning context.

This study examines just that type of open textbook adaptation, and how being able to adapt content was a prime motivator for the faculty to move to an open textbook. They wanted to be able to adapt resources to fit their pedagogical view, and saw open textbooks as a way to achieve this. This is a fundamentally different driver for adopting an open textbook than saving students money. This adoption was driven by the faculty who want the autonomy and flexibility to adapt learning resources. While saving students money is the obvious win when you move to an open resource, the autonomy that faculty get when moving away from a locked resource to an open resource is something that does not get near enough attention in the literature, which is why this paper is significant.

Originally published in the EdTech Factotum newsletter June 23, 2017

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