Last month we asked OCUFA Report readers to tell us what they thought about eCampus Ontario’s new Open Textbook Library, which establishes a provincial repository of Open Educational Resources (OERs) from a range of disciplines, which faculty can freely use and adapt for the classes they teach. Thank you to everyone who participated!
The results from the survey offer a helpful snapshot of what faculty think about the Open Textbook Library’s current offerings, their interest in using OERs, and the supports needed to help them adapt and create open textbooks.
In the responses we received, many professors expressed an interest in using open textbooks in their courses, but found the available offerings were not adequate. Either no textbooks were available for their field or the ones that were available did not adequately meet their teaching needs. There is hope this will improve as the Library’s holdings grow.
Faculty interest in updating, adapting, or creating open textbooks seems to be limited primarily by a lack of available time (professors are busy!). Those who did express an openness to updating, adapting, or creating open textbooks emphasized the importance of compensating faculty fairly for this work. In the absence of traditional copyright arrangements, new mechanisms for doing this need to be created.
Based on the survey responses, there is a need for a wide range of institutional supports to help faculty take on the task of creating or adapting open textbooks – including training, financial compensation, course release, and recognition of textbook authorship in the promotion and tenure processes. Outreach and education for faculty interested in using OERs, but who aren’t quite sure how the logistics of creative commons licenses or open publishing work, could help to facilitate the creation and adaptation of more open textbooks – which many professors appear to be ready and willing to use.
Moving forward, faculty should keep an eye on the Open Textbook Library and their own institution’s open educational resources. In the coming months, the Library will continue to expand their offerings with more textbooks covering more disciplines. If you know of any open textbooks you think should be included in the Open Textbook Library, you can recommend it to eCampus Ontario by sending an email to email@example.com.