Making Resources Accessible to All: Pressbooks

On July 15, the Council of Atlantic University Libraries / Conseil des bibliothèques universitaires de l’Atlantique (CAUL-CBUA) announced a $35,000 initial investment into the creation of a free, online publishing and hosting platform called Pressbooks. Pressbooks helps get Open Educational Resources into the hands, and onto the screens, of post-secondary students. Cape Breton University’s Jasmine Hoover, Scholarly Resources Librarian, and Dr. Jason Loxton, Geology instructor, are proud members of the team who helped bring this concept to Atlantic Canada. 

“According to a Mcleans Survey, students at CBU spend on average $877 per year on textbooks,” says Jasmine. “In this digital age, ebook licenses for traditional textbooks are often unavailable for libraries to purchase. Open educational resources such as Open Textbooks make resources accessible to all, free of charge.” 

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing many campuses to shift to online delivery models, access to free or affordable electronic textbooks, audio and video resources and supplementary materials can have a large impact on the learning experience. Dr. Loxton was a first-generation student who self-funded his undergraduate degree and understands the ways in which additional costs can act as a barrier to students.

“Financially, this is one way we can help support our students in these trying times, something that all faculty want to do,” he explains. “This model also means that CBU students will have the potential opportunity to learn from textbooks custom made for their classes with timely case studies pulled from the news.”

Amrinder Singh, President of the CBU Students’ Union, says this is a great initiative for CBU to be a part of. “This innovation will not just help students in saving money,” he says. “It will provide easier access to the resources they need in this digital world of online learning.”

By investing in this pilot, CAUL-CBUA will support and enable the online learning experience, providing value to both students and educators. The initial program trains educators and supporters at institutions across Atlantic Canada to create or adapt open textbooks. In addition to CBU, team members include representatives from Dalhousie, Nova Scotia Community College, Acadia, University of Prince Edward Island, St. Francis Xavier, University of New Brunswick, Memorial University, Holland College, StudentsNS and Novanet.  A similar initiative — BCCampus — has saved students close to $19 million since its inception in 2012.