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Concordia introduces four open textbooks this fall term

The project is developing no-cost materials for 12 courses by 2021
November 4, 2020
By Leslie Goldstein

A group of people standing in a line, anke-deep in the ocean and holding hands. Close-up from the cover of the open textbook by Stéphane Brutus and Nora Baronian.

Concordia’s Open Educational Resources (OER) project is gaining momentum.

Thanks to funding from OER grants, the university is now developing 12 open textbooks. Four of the 12 texts are being piloted this fall term and the balance are expected to be in use by 2021.

Now in its second year, the OER project allows Concordians to use and contribute to OER repositories as well as develop their expertise in adopting, adapting and creating open teaching and learning materials. The open education materials — such as textbooks — permit no-cost access, use, adaptation and/or redistribution by others.

Dianne Cmor, associate university librarian for teaching and learning, and Chloe Lei, teaching and research librarian for engineering and computer science, are leading the initiative.

“We’re very pleased with the progress of the OER project,” says Cmor. “Our collaboration with many faculty members who are equally enthusiastic about open textbooks has been very energizing and is truly rewarding.”

Stéphane Brutus, professor of management at the John Molson School of Business, is piloting his customized open textbook, Human Resources Management – Canadian Edition, in his MANA 362 Human Resources Management class this fall term. It’s the first Concordia-developed open textbook used at the John Molson School of Business.

Image of the cover of a book, with a group of people standing ankle-deep in the ocean and holding hands. Human Resources Management students at the John Molson School of Business now have access to the open textbook Human Resources Management – Canadian Edition by Stéphane Brutus and Nora Baronian.

What motivated you to customize this open textbook?

Stéphane Brutus: I have been teaching this class for over 20 years and I have always had to adapt the course to the publisher’s book, so I never felt that the course was 100 per cent mine. Now it is, because I wrote the book.

Also, I was always uncomfortable with the outrageous price that students were charged for books that are essentially based on research conducted in universities.

What do you consider to be the greatest benefit of open textbooks for Concordia faculty and students?

SB: Their flexibility. My book not only provides the latest knowledge in HR; it does so with examples, videos and links that are Montreal-Quebec-based. The degree of customization is really outstanding and students react very positively to it.

How has the OER program changed the way you teach the Human Resources Management class?

SB: It has allowed me to truly “flip the classroom” or make the students responsible for learning the material from the book on their own and use our class time to do exercises and solidify their learnings instead of lecturing. The timing of this, with the pandemic, has been perfect.

A popular tool

Brutus’s open textbook has garnered positive feedback from students.

Polina Panfilova is in her second year at John Molson, studying HR management. She is taking the MANA 362 class with Nora Baronian, lecturer in the Department of Management and co-author of Human Resources Management – Canadian Edition.

This is the first time Panfilova is using an open textbook for her courses. She says the main advantage is the cost.

“For in-person semesters, there were always some classes that required you to get a new book just to have an access code to an online textbook with four assignments,” Panfilova says.

“I always found it absurd as those codes only gave you access to the book for a limited amount of time — six months to a year — and it was never used for anything more than those few assignments. These textbooks cost between $90 and $150, which is high.”

Panfilova says the customized version of the open textbook Human Resources Management – Canadian Edition includes “applicable, up-to-date and interesting examples from the HR management industry in Quebec and the rest of Canada. It serves as a valuable learning guide rather than a distraction.”

The OER by Discipline Resource Guide: Concordia University is now available to faculty, and the new model for OER grants provides funding for adopting and customizing open textbooks on a rolling basis.

Cmor says these recent changes to the program provide more flexibility for faculty to bring value to the teaching and learning experience for their students.

“Open textbooks are proving to be an important educational resource for students. Whether they are used as the main textbook or for supplementary reading, the flexibility and cost benefits they present to students and faculty are evident,” says Cmor.

Browse through the OER by Discipline Resource Guide: Concordia University and consult the Open Educational Resources page for more information about open textbooks.



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