HEADLINES Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani 

THOUSANDS of students across British Columbia have collectively saved over $350,000 thanks to a province-wide initiative to open up access to post-secondary texts.

Two years ago, BCcampus launched its Open Textbook Project which, at the time, had 20 students accessing free textbooks in science, health, arts and business. That number has grown to 2,244, and one of the project’s goals is to eventually provide 40 openly-licensed textbooks that have been created, reviewed and adopted by B.C. faculty.

Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, a recent addition to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Faculty of Arts, has revised two textbooks on research methods in psychology and social psychology for BCcampus.

He believes open textbooks are the way forward, for many.

“There are tremendous benefits to be reaped from the adoption of open textbooks. For students, they bring greater access, convenience, cost-savings and course performance. For faculty, they permit the modification of the text to suit their course and pedagogical goals, including the embedding of assignments. And for institutions they have been linked with higher program completion and student retention rates,” he said.

Dr. Jhangiani was recently selected as one of three “Faculty Fellows” on the BCcampus Open Textbook team. In his role, he will work to research the efficacy of open textbooks, and coach faculty on how to adopt them – a feat easier said than done.

While immense progress has been made to date, the KPU psychology instructor says there remain many disciplines and courses with no available open textbook alternatives. There has also been some skepticism around the quality of open texts.

But the future is bright with BCcampus.

“Openness is a philosophy that is already transforming research and has the potential to do the same with textbooks and pedagogy. I am proud that B.C. is leading the world in this transformation and that KPU in turn is leading B.C.”

In addition to his pioneering work around open textbooks, Dr. Jhangiani serves as the director of the Social & Political Cognition Lab at KPU, an associate editor of the journal Psychology Learning & Teaching, and the director of research, resources and special initiatives for the Early Career Psychologists Committee of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology.

He is also the recipient of KPU’s Katalyst grant, which will go toward funding research he’s passionate about: “I will be looking at the impact of open textbook adoption on students, faculty and institutions here in B.C., including variables such as access, convenience, cost-savings, course performance, program completion, as well as student retention.”

This Thursday, Dr. Jhangiani will speak to new models of textbook production, and their impact on students, faculty and B.C. institutions. Hosted in celebration of Open Access Week, the discussion will take place at SFU’s Harbour Centre from 1-2:30 p.m. on October 23.

To follow the progress of BCcampus’s Open Textbook Project, visit: bccampus.ca/open-textbook-project.

Guests can register for Dr. Jhangiani’s upcoming textbook talk and find more information at http://workshops.lib.sfu.ca/node/698