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What is an Open Textbook?

Open textbooks are a type of Open Educational Resource (OER): freely available textbooks, written by educators seeking to improve the accessibility and affordability of education.

Authors assign an “open license” that allows others to reuse, revise and/or remix it with other things. 

Open Library Logo
Oasis Logo

Why Use an Open Textbook?

The high cost of textbooks negatively impacts student success. 

In a large study of students’ textbook purchasing behaviour, students reported various negative effects on their education related to high textbook costs.

Students responded to the survey as follows: 47% take fewer courses, 45% don't register for a specific course, 26% drop a course, 21% withdraw from a course, 37% earn a poor grade because I couldn't afford to buy the textbook, 20% fail a course because I couldn't afford to buy the textbook, 66% don't purchase the required textbook

Source: 2016 Student Textbooks & Course Materials Survey, Florida Virtual Campus

 

The adoption of open textbooks positively impacts student performance.

 

Students whose faculty chose OER generally performed as well or better than students whose faculty assigned a commercial textbook.

Fischer, Hilton III, Robinson & Wiley, 2015

Open Access

Open Access Logo with the words: Unlocking Knowledge"Open access" works "are digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions" (Suber, 2004-2015). The author of an Open Access work retains copyright and determines how their resources can be used. For example, some authors allow derivatives of their work while others do not. To learn more about Open Access, read Open Access Overview by Peter Suber.

A Creative Commons license is a common indicator used with open access works that describes the copyright owner's conditions for use of their work.

You can search for Open Access publications using the following tools:

Textbooks & Books

Journals / Academic Resources

Images

Business Case Studies

Music

Online Teaching and Learning Materials

Videos

  • Ted Talks
  • Vimeo – (Not all videos are closed-captioned)
  • YouTube (Use Filter option and select Creative Commons)

Art

Cartoons

  • skcd ("A Webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language")
  • Dave Blazek (Business cartoons)

Odds and Ends