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Toronto, June 6 (Canadian-Media): Ontario’s investment of $1 million in the Ontario Open Textbooks Initiative, which implies free online textbooks and educational resources for students, makes college and university education more affordable, a news release report said.
The announcement to this effect was made today by Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Digital Government, at eCampusOntario, alongside partners in digital education.
"Paying for textbooks is a challenge for too many students. By supporting a movement of free online textbooks and other open educational resources, we are removing yet another financial barrier to accessing postsecondary education in Ontario—so our students can stay focused on learning, and less on paying for their higher education," said Mathew.
According to surveys high cost of the books were reported to have prevented about two thirds of students from buying or renting textbooks.
The main focus of the Ontario Open Textbooks Initiative will be on Ontario-specific content in areas where the most significant impact and cost savings for students can be realized and contributes to the growing national and global library of open-source materials supporting lifelong learning.
This would include high-enrolment first-year courses, French language content, content for Indigenous studies, trades and technical skills content, and content for new Canadians.
An open textbook is reported to be licensed under an open copyright licence, which means it can be made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public.
Learners in British Columbia have been benefited by a similar open textbook initiative which has helped save over $4 million over the last four years.
Currently, Ontario’s Open Textbook Library is reported to have more than 180 open textbooks available on the eCampusOntario website.
Ontario is partnering with eCampusOntario to develop and provide free and low-cost digital textbooks to students.
Founded in 2015, eCampusOntario is a consortium of all 45 Ontario publicly-assisted colleges and universities.
It is a not-for-profit corporation funded by the Ontario government to be a Centre of Excellence for Online and Technology-Enabled Learning.
New materials developed for Ontario will be added to the eCampusOntario online library of free educational which also launches today.
" We are excited about Ontario’s investment in open textbook adoption, adaptation and creation. This investment will directly address affordability issues for students in postsecondary education. Key partners for eCampusOntario will be faculty and instructors, for whom open educational resources will provide a new outlet for the creation and dissemination of knowledge based on their research or in their teaching specialties. The open education investment by the Ontario government will provide multiple benefits for learning and teaching in the province’s postsecondary education sector," said David Porter, CEO eCampusOntario.
Students in Ontario are also being supported through the new Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), which provides free average tuition to more than 210,000 students starting this fall.
By next year, it is estimated that some 230,000 students receiving OSAP will have less debt.
Ontario’s plan in making education more affordable for students is to create jobs, help people in their everyday lives and grow our economy.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
Image of Deb Matthews: Twitter