Today is 3rd March, World Book Day, and at New World University, we want to recognise it by showing our appreciation for those who have written books that we use to minimise the cost of higher education we make available to our students without sacrificing quality.
To explain, much of our institution’s curricula rely on open textbooks, meaning textbooks that were released as open educational resources by their authors and their publisher. Because those materials were released under an open license that allows anyone to distribute, copy, reuse, and modify those works, we’re able to incorporate them into our courses in a number of ways that help to meet the needs of students.
One way is that by allowing modification, we can reformat textbook chapters, splitting each up into a series of readings that are reformatted for ease of use with mobile devices. This is crucial because Internet access in lower income countries is often unreliable, even for those who can afford it in the first place. We want to be able to welcome students from all socio-economic backgrounds, and that means ensuring that our programmes are accessible even to those who only have a mobile device to access the Internet.
Another reason that the ability to revise and remix these materials is beneficial is that it allows us to adapt that material to speak to the context in which our students live and work. Many open textbooks are written by North Americans and use examples from that region to explain the points they’re making. And that’s perfectly understandable! But students in lower income societies may better be able to identify with examples closer to home, and open licensing allows us to exchange one example for another as needed to make those points more clear.
So to those who have been responsible for writing and publishing the materials on which we rely, and to everyone in the movement to create low and no-cost textbooks, we’d like to say thank you, and to wish you a Happy World Book Day!