Open Pedagogy: The Time is Now

By Thomas Peace

I’ve been a rather slow convert to the open-access movement. Though ActiveHistory.ca operates under a Creative Commons Attribution, non-commercial ShareALike copyright license whereby you’re free to repost this (or any other essay you find here) so long as you provide us with attribution and do not profit, this was my sole venture into the world of open access.

OER Global Logo by Jonathas Mello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Unported 3.0 License

Then in 2015, Thompson Rivers University historian John Belshaw approached us about promoting his new two-volume open Canadian history textbook (click here for pre-Confederation and here for post-Confederation) published as part of the BC Open Textbook Project (we ran two posts about it here and here). Belshaw’s books were the first open access textbooks I encountered. I was excited and – having gradually moved away from textbooks in my teaching – integrated them as support material for my Canadian history courses.

Until recently, these were the only open projects with which I have been involved. Though I was never fully resistant to the idea, I also never pursued it with much interest. I have been fortunate enough to move from academic contract to academic contract in such a way that only for a few months have I ever been without full access to a university’s library subscription services. From my vantage point, as a student then professor, all of the on-campus resources I used were free.

This, of course, is not true. Both institutionally and personally, the costs to purchase educational resources are significant. At Ryerson University, a school with about 50,000 students, the library’s annual acquisition budget for serials, databases and e-journals is over $4.7 million, about $94 per student. Add to that the books, computer software and other course-related materials faculty demand of their students, and the total nears $800/year.

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