“Textbook Zero” initiatives improve retention rates, but need senior support to succeed

June 17, 2014

Participants in the Open Textbook Summit, held in Vancouver in April, have offered 4 lessons to educators interested in pursuing “Textbook Zero” programs. Textbook Zero initiatives rely on openly licensed, free learning materials to offer students a complete course of study without any textbook-associated costs. Proponents say that 10% fewer students drop Textbook Zero courses because of economic hardship, benefiting students and universities alike. However, adopters have noted that there are significant barriers to more widespread adoption of such programs. Foremost among these barriers is the degree of change that is required. “We’re trying to change an ecosystem. Open textbooks are more systemic than we sometimes realize,” said Kim Thanos. She recommended that interested educators find a senior level champion to support the project but added that more must be done to simplify implementations for faculty members. David Wiley emphasized the importance of continually measuring the value of such initiatives and looking for opportunities to improve. BC Campus Blog