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Open Text Adaptation Grants Update | Academic Newsletter | Seneca College

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Open Text Adaptation Grants Update

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by Jennifer Peters, OER Sub-Committee Chair

in the March 2020 issue


Open Education Resources (OER) are “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others” (Hewlett Foundation). While OER can include a wide variety of resources, such as multimedia, audio, videos, and more, open textbooks have garnered a great deal of attention, possibly because textbooks are the most common learning resource (eCampus Ontario). The benefits to students include cost savings (and therefore greater accessibility) as well as the potential to use a more-focused resource.

OERs are not new to Seneca. They have been used within some courses within a few programs for many years, such as these Seneca OER Examples from the School of Software Design & Data Science and the School of Information Technology Administration & Security. Our goal is to further their use in a thoughtful manner, as noted in Seneca’s Digital Learning Strategy, where we committed to creating a framework for their use. To this end, Seneca released its first call for proposals in November 2018, offering grants to adapt an existing open text. The second round of grants was opened in April 2019.


Grants for Adapted Open Texts 2018-2020:
The two rounds of grants produced four open texts adaptations. Completed texts were piloted in Fall 2019. Forthcoming texts will be piloted in 2020. Texts included:


Additional Open Text Pilots
Outside of the grants, we also had faculty working to adapt and/or adopt open texts into their courses, including:


User Experience Assessment
The Teaching & Learning Centre conducted a user experience survey with students about their perceptions of the above open texts in their class and the response was positive. The infographic below highlights some results from the survey, as well as the total number of books that were printed at the bookstore:
Open Text Adaptation Grants Update Infographic

View the whole infographic: Open Text Assessment Infographic (.png)


Benefit for Students
The benefits for students are numerous, including:

  • Reduced barriers to accessing the course materials, including guaranteed access to course materials on the first day of classes
  • Improved accessibility; i.e., no delay in accessing a digital copy for use with screen readers
  • Audio-visual materials that are integrated into the book that allow students to learn through multiple modes
  • Option to print the text at the bookstore at a low cost, often around $15, with a 24-hour turnaround time
  • Updated content ongoing throughout the semester
  • Cost savings, which are important for all students, but we’ve had especially positive feedback about this from our international students

In terms of cost savings, it’s very difficult to accurately estimate as it’s impossible to guess how many students would have purchased the text, have many would have purchased at a discount or at full price, and how many would have rented, borrowed from a library, or shared costs with another student.

One formula offered by BC Campus recommends estimating a high and low cost savings – we use the cost of the previous text multiplied by half the number of students for the low estimate, and multiplied by three quarters for the high estimate. Using this formula, we can estimate that the Fall 2019 pilots of the texts above resulted in these cost savings for students:

Course # of students using the open text Cost of previous text Cost savings estimate range for fall semester
BAM101 1700 $164 $139,400 - $209,100
BAM107 38 $164 $3,116 - $4,674
OBR250 78 $179 $6,981 - $10,471
EAC594 329 $106 $17,437 - $26,155
NPM703 22 $50 $550 - $825

This results in a cost savings of between $167,484 and $251,225 for the Fall 2019 semester for these courses.
This does not include faculty using open texts and other open materials on their own throughout the college.


Reflection and Future Directions
The past year and a half has been an immersive experience in open text adaptations and adoptions for everyone involved in these projects. They can be a lot of work to accomplish and launch, but our student survey seems to indicate they are worthwhile investments of our time.

Going forward, we would like to explore using different platforms for open texts to make graphic design and collaborative editing and maintenance easier. We would also like to explore eLearning tools to increase the active learning potential for these resources.

Future initiatives include investigating first-year business OER opportunities across the province (including adaptation and development collaborations with other colleges), examining OER policies in place in North America, and exploring the potential for more grants for our faculty.


Contact Us
If you have any questions about any of the projects mentioned or are interested in exploring open texts in your courses, please visit our online faculty guide at Open Educational Resources or contact us at oer@senecacollege.ca.


New Module from the Teaching & Learning Centre: Pressbooks
Pressbooks, currently used internationally for publishing open textbooks, is now available to all employees and students at Seneca, as mentioned in the Pressbooks: Publishing Open Books and Online Modules from Your Desktop article in the December 2019 issue of the Academic Newsletter.

Pressbooks is an online publishing platform that was created to encourage and enable easy sharing of openly licensed textbooks. It has custom features that enable clean and easy graphic design, linkable footnotes, glossaries, and online self-assessment activities. Pressbooks can be used to publish a traditional textbook-like resource, an online learning module or tutorial, a guide or manual, and more.

Pressbooks logoYou can get started with Pressbooks now by visiting the Teaching & Learning Centre’s newest online module: Pressbooks @ Seneca: An introduction.



View the March 2020 issue of the Academic Newsletter.

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