UK Open Textbooks: key points

Last month I presented the UK Open Textbooks project at the Learning On/With the Open Web event organised by the Disruptive Media Learning Lab and held at the Coventry Transport Museum.

You can see the submission here but I thought it was a good idea to record the headlines here in case the conference site is removed at some point. The full report on the activities of the UK Open Textbooks project will be available from December 2018.  Keep an eye on the Twitter feed for more info!

An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public.  The UK Open Textbooks project (2017-2018) has explored the readiness of the UK open textbook market through a combination of survey research, interviews, and a series of case studies.  Key takeaways include:

  • 20% of students who start a UK degree course will not finish, with maintenance costs a significant factor
  • Current students will average £50,000 in fees and maintenance loans upon graduation
  • NUS data indicates an average spend of £1,000 per student year on books and materials
  • 88% of UK students claim to have skipped purchasing a textbook because of price
  • There is a significant body of research demonstrating the quality and efficaciousness of open textbooks and OER more generally
  • Open textbooks are funded by universities, foundations, governments and other institutions to disrupt the traditional model of textbook publishing
  • In the open model, authors are typically paid for their work, which is then released under an open licence (usually Creative Commons)
  • This allows content to be freely copied, shared, edited, remixed and used in new ways without further permissions
  • Using open textbooks can also lead to significant innovations in teaching and learning through open pedagogies and open educational practices
  • Many UK universities have begun to explore the possibilities!

We are currently assembling a report that will summarise the impact of the activities we have organised in the course of the project – this will be available in December 2018.

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