Photo by: Alexander Agrey
Brock has partnered with a new open educational resources (OER) grant program in an attempt to lessen current textbook fees.
OERs are teaching and learning materials that are free and openly available for all. OERs can consist of text documents, audio, video, multimedia, tests, softwares, learning tools and more.
Brock’s partnership with the grant program is funded by BUSU and is set to be available in April so that OERs can be implemented in the fall for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Brock announced the news on Tuesday, March 7, tweeting: “#BrockU has launched a new grant program to create a more inclusive and equitable learning environment for all students, saving an estimated $250,000 in textbook fees annually.”
In addition to saving an estimated $250,000, the funding is expected to support at least 20 different grants. Additional details surrounding the funding are yet to be announced.
“The high cost of textbooks and course materials act as a barrier to academic participation. We believe that this initiative will level the playing field for all students and create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment within Brock’s classrooms,” said Andrea Lepage, BUSU Vice-President, University Affairs, in The Brock News.
In addition to high textbook fees often resulting in students opting out of purchasing their course required materials entirely, research conducted by the Brock University Library also suggests that students will often change their course plans based on prices of materials. OERs will thus allow students the opportunity to take the courses they like without worrying about textbook affordability.
Brock’s partnership with the OER program falls in line with the school’s updated academic plan, which, as a priority, aims to offer “a transformational and accessible academic experience.” The plan also strives to make course materials more accessible and affordable through the adoption of OERs.
The adoption of OERs offers additional benefits to faculty through a more flexible course design. Course enrolment, persistence and performance is also likely to ameliorate with the adoption of more accessible materials.
“OERs offer a lot more academic freedom because faculty don’t have to bend their courses to map onto the table of contents of a textbook. They can modify the instructional resources to suit their pedagogical goals. They are free to localize it, contextualize it and adapt it,” said Rajiv Jhangiani, Brock University Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning in the same article by The Brock News.
As of now, OERs are digital resources, however the Campus Store is working towards implementing a print-on-demand service for those who prefer physical materials.
Brock has also attempted to lessen textbook fees in the past through partnerships with eCampusOntario’s Open Textbook Initiative, a program working to aid students by limiting textbook funding by offering online or in-print versions of course textbooks for free or at a much lower price.
Brock is also in the process of becoming the first university in Ontario to join the Open Education Network, which supports the Open Textbook Library, a comprehensive resource for openly licensed academic textbooks, further aiding students in accessing much needed academic resources.
For more information about OERs and open education in general, be sure to visit Open Education Global’s official website.