It was October 2019 and the first round of Open Educational Resources Fund grants hadn’t yet been awarded, but Erin Fields, Open Education and Scholarly Communications Librarian, and her student team were ready to get started with Open Education Resource (OER) publishing.

“[That project] was a really great test case for us to figure out what kind of support a faculty member would need to go from some Word documents with content to an actual published text,” recalls Erin Fields, Open Education and Scholarly Communications Librarian.

Erin Fields, Open Education and Scholarly Communications Librarian at UBC Library.

Creating an open text is no simple task, but for some faculty and instructors, it’s the best solution when the resources they need for their courses don’t exist.

“We just could not find [a text] that really fit the objectives or the spirit of my course. So, rather than giving students a stack of references to sift through, I decided to develop my own textbook,” says Dr. Chelsea Himsworth, Assistant Professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health and lead author of  The Mission, the Message, and the Medium: Science and Risk Communication in a Complex World. “When I saw how much the students loved the textbook I was hooked! So I went back to the library so I could get the training and mentorship I needed to expand and improve the textbook on an ongoing basis. The library also opened my eyes to the world of OER. This led me to a successful grant application to improve my text and prep it for public offering.”

Amanda Grey, Open Education Student Librarian at UBC Library.

Fields’ student team helps faculty and instructors through the entire phased process, helping with copyright standards, Creative Commons licensing, metadata, and more using PressBooks as their online publishing platform, with access provided by BCcampus.

Since then, the library has created a catalogue of open texts from UBC, ranging in subject matter from chemistry to French language studies. Working alongside Fields, Open Education Student Librarian Amanda Grey has played a large role in the success of the open textbook initiative and handles much of the daily support for the library’s PressBooks projects.

“Erin and Amanda are amazing professionals. They were always accessible via Zoom and email,” says Dr. Somayeh Kamranian, Sessional Instructor in the UBC Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies and lead author of Let’s Read French Books. “They were present, in all the aspects of creation of this textbook.”

With most UBC classes now online, the demand for Open Educational Resources has only increased, along with an appetite for collaborative projects. Laboratory Manual for Introduction to Physical, First British Columbia Edition involved faculty and subject matter experts from UBC Vancouver, UBC Okanagan, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, for use in first year physical geography courses.

“It was a fantastic example of what you can do across institutions when you work together,” says Fields, adding that it also illustrated how open education can support instructors engaged in remote learning.

For those considering the plunge into Open Education Resource (OER) publishing, UBC Library has plenty of resources available including The Open Textbook Publishing Guide, as well as two upcoming webinars that introduce participants to the open text publishing process. Faculty and instructors interested in booking a consultation can contact Erin Fields (erin.fields@ubc.ca) for more information.

This project is part of UBC Library’s strategic direction to inspire with innovative spaces and services.

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

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