BCcampus has been gathering and reporting open textbook adoptions by post-secondary faculty in British Columbia since 2013, though records go back to 2011. In fact, BCcampus Open Education is required to track these adoptions as part of its accountability agreement with B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training.
Statistics involve the collection, organization, and interpretation of numerical data from a representative sample from which trends are drawn for the targeted population as a whole. In the case of adoption statistics published for B.C., it is understood that the numbers are not based on all open textbook usage in the province. Instead, it’s acknowledged that these data provide a snapshot of how many students, instructors, and institutions are using open textbooks and approximately how much money is saved.
More than numbers
At BCcampus, this work has proven to be about more than just numbers. Tracking adoptions has helped the open education team connect with and support faculty and staff interested in open education. Paying attention to who is using open textbooks has revealed open education trends within B.C.’s post-secondary sector and made it easier to bring together individuals and groups working in this area. On the flip side, talking with instructors who have chosen not to adopt an open textbook has been equally valuable, especially when they explain the reasons why.
Institutions preparing to embark on an adoption-tracking project can record the benefits they expect to gain from this endeavour. Taking this step will clarify for the group why they are doing this work as well as provide a blueprint for future reference.
Aside from developing and maintaining a detailed record of open textbook usage over time, the act of discovering and tracking adoptions at an institution offers these perks:
- A way to introduce faculty, students, and staff to open education
- An opportunity to survey non-adopting instructors about open textbook interest
- A step toward operationalizing open education on campus