I’m so excited to be embarking on this new project along with partners from the OER Hub and WONKHE – people well known to the UK open education community. Bare with us whilst we build this blog and you can follow us on Twitter at @UKOpenTextbooks to stay up to date with project news.
How did I get interested in open textbooks?
I started doing some research about the price of student textbooks in the UK last year, and couldn’t help but think why aren’t we bringing some of the great open textbook ideas from the US and Canada to benefit our learners? Of course, there is a vibrant open education community in the UK (you can follow our main conference hashtags #OER17 and #OER18 on Twitter, or join our Open Education Special Interest Group #OpenEdSig), and there are other successful open access initiatives such as the E-International Relations project which produces open textbooks and content to support politics and international relations. But there has been nothing at scale that has tried to provide access to free (or low-cost print), quality and openly licensed textbooks to learners in the UK.
Through joining forces with the fabulous OER Hub team and other partners, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be exploring this area over the next year.
What will the project be?
We are starting to provide details via our ‘About‘ page. The project is a year long endeavour funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and working with OpenStax and Open Textbook Library, we hope to introduce the models they have established so successfully elsewhere to the benefit of our learners. Along the way I’ve been greatly inspired by the work of BCcampus and the REBUS Foundation, and we hope to facilitate discussion with them through webinars, online events and other activities to build a community of practice.
How can YOU get involved?
College / University educators (academic teams, teachers). We are looking for people to join us in a series of workshops (led by OpenStax) to explore how to search for and adopt an open textbook in your area. We are focusing on this academic sector since the OpenStax books currently available are a good match for Foundation Degree and early-years Undergraduate Study, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.
Libraries! We will probably form three UK hubs led by champions who are part of our project team, and these champs will provide on-going support and also work with libraries to raise access and awareness of these resources in their institutions, such as the materials already produced by UWE library services (University of the West of England).
Wider open education / learning technology / academic and library communities. We will blog about our experiences every step of the way, so if you are unable to hop on board with the project within the short timescales we have, you can certainly follow and learn from the experience.
Detail to follow!
Within a day or so we hope to have much more detail fleshed out so that we can get off to a flying start.
Featured Image – thanks to Natalie Egglestone for the pic, and note two of the team are not photographed there.