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Supporting more open and affordable course materials

Many students, faculty and staff at Queen’s are part of a growing movement towards more open and affordable course materials to improve the student learning experience. Following a year of consultations and pilot projects, the Open and Affordable Course Materials Working Group provided a report to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning in May 2018 recommending a number of principles and goals for further supporting this movement. Key amongst them was the offering of services and funding to support the creation and adoption of open textbooks.

[Open Access Course Materials]Building on a 2017 pilot program, a second call for proposals is being issued to support the use of open textbooks at Queen’s. The application submission deadline is Friday, Nov. 30. 

The 2017 program funded the development of three open textbooks in the disciplines of psychology, physics, and pediatrics. The 2018 call for proposals will award up to seven grants to instructors. Three grants of up to $7,500 each will support the development of a new open textbook in an undergraduate course. Four grants of $800 each will be for the adaptation of an existing open textbook for use in an upcoming course or program. Priority will be given to large undergraduate courses, courses with high-cost textbooks, and courses in new or emerging disciplines or subjects.

The creation of open access materials benefits both students and instructors. Emma Neary (QuARMS '23), one of two undergraduate students who was hired to support the creation of an open textbook in physics last year, was provided with a unique experiential learning opportunity that also benefits her fellow students.

“I believe that open access course materials are the first step in ensuring that university is realistically accessible for everyone,” Neary says.

The benefits of open textbooks also go beyond making course materials more affordable for students and providing greater flexibility in tailoring textbook content.

“Building our own custom textbook with expert author contributors from across Canada has allowed us to create an authoritative resource tailored to the Canadian context that is unavailable anywhere else,” says Meghan Norris, Chair of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Psychology, who compiled and edited an open access textbook for PSYC204: Applications and Careers in the Psychological Sciences.

To support instructors in creating new open textbooks and adapting existing ones for Queen’s courses, Queen’s University Library is coordinating the development of open textbook services in partnership with faculties and other units across campus. Funding for the current call for proposals is provided by the library and the Campus Bookstore.

Find out more and apply for funds online.

For the report of the Open and Affordable Course Materials Working Group, see: www.queensu.ca/provost/committees-and-reports/provosts-advisory-committee-teaching-and-learning/open-and-affordable-course

If you have any questions or comments, email: open.education@queensu.ca