Sustaining a Large Scale Open Project: The B.C. Open Textbook Project
“Sustainability is not so much about ongoing grant funding but about baking this into the regular daily operations of an institution.”
- Mary Burgess, Executive Director at BCcampus.
- Paul Stacey, Associate Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons.
This segment tells a story of a highly successful Open Textbook project in British Columbia, Canada and how the project sustained momentum and funding. Stacey and Burgess, former and current Directors of Open Education at BCcampus first discuss the history of the Open Textbook Project and illustrate the key elements that influenced the initiative’s early success. One of the key elements they identify is their continuous data collection effort around student access and student affordability. They also discuss the recent growth in the adoption of OER and report that there have been 103 open textbooks in the BC collection. In discussing sustainability and capacity building across the system, they point out that sustainability is not so much about ongoing grant funding but about integrating this into the regular daily operations of an institution and the way faculty and staff work. Then they move to discuss how this regionally funded project by the Ministry of Advanced Education has been widely adopted beyond British Columbia, and how additional partnerships have emerged. Finally, they conclude the session by sharing their tips on how to maintain the academic rigor of the materials they produce, such as their review process that uses same criteria that any textbook would be evaluated against.
- How do you engage and educate high-level stakeholders in the early phases of a project?
- What’s the evidence of success that allows a project, such as the BC Open Textbook project, to sustain momentum and funding for the project? What kinds of data is needed to demonstrate the program’s impact and help determine next steps?
- How does an initiative of this type promote and sustain participation among the faculty? What types of funding, policy and support do you provide to make the project attractive and professionally useful to participants?
- Can a local project gain policy support for OER development on a broader scale?
- This segment shares practical techniques for creating support and collaboration among funders and campus stakeholders for a major OER project. Some of the key elements contributed to the success of BC Open Textbook project are:
- Continuous and integrated data collection effort in student access and student affordability
- Showcasing success via various channels.
- Broad representation from not only many of the institutions but the geographical regions.
- Growing collection of the textbooks which resulted in increasing faculty involvement and adoption.
- Professional development for faculty and staff
- Proper use of student advocacy
- Constant effort to create partnership bringing together leaders in the Open Textbook field.
Which one resonates most with your context? What other strategies were described in the interview? What other implementation strategies would you consider to ensure the success of your OER project?