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Open Resources an Alternative to Pricey Textbooks

Langara Committee Working to Bring Free Learning Materials to Students

A Langara College student searches through books in the library. Photo Cameron Thomson
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By Cameron Thomson

Students are upset with curriculum requirements that cost them hundreds of dollars in textbook purchases each semester, when only a small portion of the books are used in class.

Julian Prior, educational technology advisor at Langara, said these concerns top the list of criticisms he hears from students.

“From the interviews we have had with students, that is probably the most common complaint, that their instructors are making them buy a $200 textbook and just using one or two chapters from it,” Prior said.

Alternative to traditional textbooks

Open Langara, a committee formed in 2017, brings together representatives from all over campus to find ways to deliver free, open educational resources to Langara instructors – an alternative to traditional textbook purchases.

In the last year, 15 instructors have adopted 57 OER textbooks, saving their students more than $300,000 in expenses. Physics, math, statistics and business have the highest rates of adoption so far. This spring, the Marketing 1200 required textbook cost $150 while the Kinesiology 1103 textbook goes for $120, and neither offered an OER option.

Mark Abrams, director of ancillary services at Langara, said one of the challenges of making more OER learning materials available is the cost required to make them.

“While there are various government programs and foundations that provide funding to develop [OER] materials… more avenues to pay for the development of these materials is still needed,” Abrams said in an email to The Voice.

A textbook on your phone

Langara student Lara Griner used an online OER textbook last semester for her marketing management course. Griner said she liked how she could check her textbook on her phone wherever she wanted.

“I thought it was great, I think the main point is that it was free. Compared to the expensive textbooks that we have here, so it was good – no money whatsoever,” Griner said.

“That was the only one I had last term so I hope they have more, I think all students would appreciate any way to save some money and have a good quality textbook.”




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