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Open resources will benefit post-secondary students

A new initiative exploring the use of more electronic material in classrooms will improve access to education for Alberta students.

Students working on laptop

The Open Educational Resources Initiative is a long-term strategy to help reduce, over time, the costs students face for a post-secondary education. By reviewing and recommending how to integrate open educational resources at post-secondary institutions, this initiative will encourage flexibility and access for all Alberta learners.

“Student groups and leaders have been clear this is an important issue for them; we’ve heard them and are pleased to be responding with this initiative. Government is committed to ensuring affordability of post-secondary education and we recognize the opportunities provided by open educational resources to reduce costs for students.”

Premier Dave Hancock, Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education

Open educational resources include textbooks, modules, multi-media educational materials, and lesson plans. These materials are offered freely and openly without an accompanying need to pay copyright realities or licence fees. 

Support for open educational resources was one of the themes listed in the report Ignite: Ideas for Post-Secondary Education written by the Alberta Students’ Executive Council, the Council of Alberta University Students and the Alberta Graduate Council.

"After tuition and fees, the price of textbooks is one of the highest costs facing students looking to obtain a post-secondary education in Alberta. This innovative initiative has the opportunity to assist students by lowering the costs associated with obtaining their degree or credential as well as encourage professors to broaden the classroom learning experience for students."

Conner Brown, Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students

It is estimated the average student in Alberta spends between $1,000-$1,700 per-year on textbooks, depending on their area of study and course load. Over a four-year degree this cost can equal $4,000-$6,800.

“Open educational resources have incredible potential to improve access to, and affordability of, post-secondary education. Digital resources are redefining teaching and are crucial to extending educational opportunities to all Albertans regardless of region or background. Eliminating costly material textbooks could save post-secondary students money and improve access for all of Alberta’s learners.”

Ken Taylor, Chair of Alberta Students’ Executive Council

This initiative will be guided by a committee of experts including faculty, students, senior academic officers and other experts who deal with open educational resources. The committee will review proposals from across Campus Alberta on how best to use open educational resources.

The committee will be co-chaired by Dr. Jason Dewling, vice-president academic and research from Olds College and Dr. Rory McGreal, a professor at Athabasca University and an international expert in open educational resources. Dr. McGreal is the current United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Commonwealth of Learning chair in open educational resources.

"Open educational resources provide students and teachers with the flexibility they need, offering updated, relevant content for learning. Freely available online, they open up a limitless supply of quality educational content from sources around the world exposing students to various international perspectives. The world is now online and it is important that our students and teachers take full advantage of the free educational opportunities the Internet offers."

Dr. Rory McGreal, professor Athabasca University

At a recent meeting of the New West Partnership, western premiers agreed to a memorandum of understanding among Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, on open educational resources.

This will allow the three provinces to work together, share material and reduce duplication. By pooling resources, this work will realize that commitment and will benefit the greatest number of students possible.

Innovation and Advanced Education has provided $2 million to fund the initiative in Alberta.

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.


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