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New grant to introduce US open textbooks in the UK

OU researchers are investigating the feasibility of introducing open textbooks in the UK.

The OER Hub research team in the Institute of Educational Technology is working with the University of West England and WonkHE in the UK, and two partners in the US on this $300 funded by by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The project seeks to determine whether the North American model of open textbook adoption is applicable in the UK, and elsewhere. This model is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be downloaded or purchased at little or no cost.

According to OU lead project researcher, Martin Weller, Professor of Educational Technology, in the North American context existing text books are often prohibitively expensive, which means many students go without which has an adverse effect on their studies. Research into the adoption of open textbooks there has shown them to be as good, if not better than existing textbooks in terms of student performance, satisfaction, and retention.

The research questions which the project will address will be around the viability of introducing open textbooks in UK higher education, assessing how the context differs and which methods for uptake are transferable.

Professor Weller said: “The project will work over the next year at adapting open textbooks, and engaging academics and librarians in workshops to promote their adoption. As students face increased financial pressures and lecturers seek to find innovative ways to teach, it is hoped that this will be the start of an open textbook approach in the UK.”

Find out more about OU Research into educational technology.

Professor Martin James Weller

Professor of Educational Technology

Institute of Educational Technology

Professional biography