Ongoing Adoption – Estimating, Calculating, and Tracking

36 institutions, 520 faculty, 153,683 students, $18,269,693 in savings realized through the adoption of open textbooks. Are they random numbers, wishful thinking, or a carefully refined process to ensure we measure our success effectively?

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

We’re proud to share the success of the open textbooks program in B.C., where we’ve estimated that local learners have saved well over ten million dollars, but how do we get that number? How do we know who and where open textbooks are being used throughout the province? It’s not guesswork – we’ve worked with open enthusiasts and practitioners across the province to develop tracking programs that measure the adoption of open textbooks in our partner institutions. Here’s how some of them are doing it.

Langara College

Featuring a regularly updated graphic to show current adoptions, Langara College is proudly one of the heaviest adopters of open textbooks among B.C. post-secondary institutions.

“What began as a side-of-the-desk project has evolved naturally into a strategic approach to tracking the adoption of open textbooks and OER in our institution,” explained Julian Prior, Ed Tech Advisor and Department Chair at Langara College. “By their very nature, open resources are hard to track. Part of our success in tracking the open adoptions is due to our bookstore. It might seem counter-purpose for them, but they see themselves as student support on campus and provide us with a list of all textbooks being used throughout the institution, with indications as to which courses are using open resources. We share that information with BCcampus, and publicly via our main website.”

“When we track our open textbooks, we base our numbers on actual enrolment, not the number of seats,” said Langara College librarian, Lindsay Tripp. “This gives us a more accurate number to work with so we can see what’s being effectively used and used effectively.”

“We’re proud to be in the top 2-3 institutions in terms of open adoption, especially since we were late to the open game,” shared Julian. “Our faculty deserve all the credit: our respectable adoption numbers were made possible by their interest in providing cost savings to our students.

Douglas College

Previously, tracking was based on faculty self-reporting their adoption of an open textbook to BCcampus.

“Now, at the start of each semester, I go through the textbook list to find people who are using OER, and for those who have used OER in the past,” shared Debra Flewelling, Open Education & Emerging Technologies Librarian at Douglas College. “I check with them to see what they are using in the current semester, and then I enter each semester’s open textbook use in a Google spreadsheet which I share with Lauri. If they note that ‘no textbook is required’ for their course, I will usually follow-up to see if they are using open resources. As we move towards having a zero-textbook cost (ZTC) for a credential, this will be increasingly more important to track because they could be using library materials and journal articles in place of a textbook. These courses will be tracked on a separate spreadsheet from the one shared with BCcampus, which is for open textbook adoptions only.”

“We have started sharing a list each semester of the courses, sections, and faculty using OER, which assists students in selecting classes with open textbooks.  We share this list on the Douglas Students Union (DSU) site, our intranet, and on the Open Douglas site to raise awareness and because it is beneficial for the greater community to know which institutions are using open textbooks in the various courses. Recently, I saw UBC shared a list of some of their adoptions and it was very helpful. I’m hoping more institutions will do the same.”

Vancouver Island University

“We know that since 2015, we’ve saved students almost $500K in textbook costs. That doesn’t include the people we don’t know about, so we’re focusing on raising awareness to get a better handle on which open resources are being used in our programs,” explained Maxwell Stevenson, Director of the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning at Vancouver Island University. “We have an open education working group, with membership from our learning and teaching centre, library, faculty, campus store/bookstore, and the student union. This allows us to get a sense of what the different activities are across the campus while raising awareness for open education and open pedagogy. As well, our Teaching and Learning Leadership Council is focusing on developing and sharing strategies to support faculty members interested in adopting additional open practices.”


If you’re interested in tracking the success of your open textbook adoption program, check out the Adoption Guide – 2nd Edition, which includes updates and expansions on topics introduced in the previous version. The first three sections address distinct groups involved in open textbook adoption: instructors, post-secondary institutions, and students, and the second section includes operational aspects of adoption: surveying instructors about, tracking usage of, and reporting open textbooks adoptions.

Notable quote:

“With regard to tracking the use of open textbooks in B.C., we’re very conservative with our numbers: we include open textbooks, but no other open educational resources (OER). We don’t include materials, such as journals available via Free Library, as the library pays a licensing fee to gain access to the learning resources. We track open textbooks, and nothing else.” – Lauri Aesoph, Manager, Open Education at BCcampus.

Learn more:

Hard-Back OpenStax Books Come to Canada

Canadian fans of OpenStax’s hard-bound books no longer need to worry about international shipping and duty fees; OpenStax print textbooks are now for sale in Canada.

Post by Lauri Aesoph, Manager, Open Education

Update: February 23, 2021

BCcampus, in partnership with Vretta and the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative invites post-secondary faculty, librarians, bookstore staff and students from across Canada to participate in a survey about the distribution of OpenStax’s hardbound books in Canada, and printed open textbooks in general. 

Feel free to share the Canadian Distribution of OpenStax hardcover textbooks survey link with your colleagues. This survey will remain open until April 30, 2021.

All survey responses are anonymous. Final results will be shared out in an aggregated and anonymized format later this year.

Update: October 27, 2020

Against the backdrop of the pandemic and all the challenges stemming from it, BCcampus and Campus Manitoba continue to meet regularly with Vretta regarding their role as Canada’s distributor of hardback OpenStax textbooks.

Carley McDougall, Acting Executive Director for Campus Manitoba, says that since April she and her team have noticed an increased interest in open educational resources, such as OpenStax textbooks. However, the Manitoba group is also hearing about students struggling with broadband issues and basic access to the resources required for post-secondary learning. “Because of this we are seeing the institutions working to provide alternative ways to access education including the increase in use in open educational resources, and resources that don’t require internet access or even computers such as printed books.”

At the beginning of this year, BCcampus decided to give each faculty member who applied to review an open textbook from the B.C. Open Textbook Collection a free printed copy of the book they would be evaluating. This new policy was in response to requests from some reviewers who said they preferred leafing through a physical book rather than, or in addition to, reading it online. For reviewers of OpenStax textbooks, a copy is ordered from Vretta.

Account Manager, Shoeb Mozammel, acknowledges that even though COVID-19 threw “a curveball” at their day-to-day operations, Vretta continues to deliver high quality and affordable OpenStax print textbooks to institutions and students across the country. After the initial drop in textbook orders, Vretta was surprised (and pleased) to see a jolt in demand over the last several months as more and more faculty turn to OER for their respective classes. In turn, students have been ordering print versions to complement the online versions of OpenStax textbooks. Vretta has been working diligently behind the scenes during the past several months, says Shoeb, to make sure that “bookstores, faculty, and students can still order these books the same way as they have been doing all along.” 

“Vretta was very easy to place our order and supply the OpenStax print versions our students preferred.”  

-Yohanna Quackenbush, Campus Store Coordinator, College of the Rockies Bookstore

Update: April 28, 2020

In March, Campus Manitoba and Open Ed Manitoba joined regular discussions with Vretta and BCcampus Open Education regarding the OpenStax textbook distribution project. Dylan Woodcock, virtual help desk associate at Campus Manitoba, says, “The Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative is pleased to be involved in monthly consultations with BCcampus and Vretta. It allows us a chance to discuss the growing momentum of open education within and beyond our province and serves as an excellent learning opportunity and opening to future collaboration.” 

During the first quarter of 2020, leading up to Manitoba’s involvement, interest in and sales of OpenStax textbooks were growing in B.C. and across Canada. However, once COVID-19 disrupted the status quo, that upward climb stalled. Regardless, Vretta has committed to prioritizing the needs of students and instructors by ensuring that OpenStax hardcover textbooks are still readily available for purchase across Canada.

Update: January 14, 2020

Two more options are now available for anyone in Canada wishing to buy a hard-back copy of an OpenStax open textbook. In addition to the Vretta order form page, these books are now available through Amazon Canada either by going directly to (look for Vretta as the distributor) or by visiting individual OpenStax books posted in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection. These hard-cover books are available for 13 of the 33 OpenStax textbooks posted in the B.C. collection.   Since October, faculty and post-secondary bookstores in British Columbia and across Canada have purchased 20% of Vretta’s initial OpenStax inventory. A refund policy has also been posted to the Vretta ordering page.  

“Vretta is proud to deliver OpenStax hardcover textbooks across Canada. The initial response has been nothing short of great and it is very encouraging to know that there is a real demand for these resources. As demand continues to grow, we will strive to ensure that we meet the needs of students and institutions by continuing to restock our shelves with various titles.” says Shoeb Mozammel, Account Manager for Vretta.  

Original: October 8, 2019

Thanks to a partnership between Vretta, a Toronto-based education technology company, and OpenStax, a Rice University-based nonprofit that publishes openly licensed college textbooks, print copies of OpenStax books will now officially be distributed in Canada. Canadian instructors and students who use OpenStax textbooks–and the bookstores that stock them–can now order these high-quality, full-colour textbooks more easily, faster, and for less money through Vretta’s order form page. Prices (in Canadian dollars) are posted on the page, and bookstores – and others – that order 10 textbooks or more receive a 20% discount.

Books on a shelf
Photo credit: Jemel Agulto, OpenStax

Like other open textbooks, OpenStax books are still free online through the B.C. Open Textbook Collection or directly from the OpenStax catalogue.

BCcampus and Vretta continue to meet monthly to oversee this endeavour. Feedback and questions are welcome at

Learn more:

TRU OER Development Grant

Deadline to apply: Oct. 15, 2019 at 9 a.m.

The TRU Library, the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), and Open Learning are pleased to announce the fall intake for the Open Education Resource (OER) Development Grant.

Developed in part as a response to student needs as outlined in TRUSU’s Open Textbook Grants Program proposal and approved in April 2018, the OERDG program has been extended for 2019/2020 after awarding grants to eight recipients in 2018 and seven more in spring of 2019. Program funding, established by the Strategic Initiative Fund, continues into 2020/21.

Faculty interested in integrating OER into their TRU courses can apply for the OERDG before the deadline of Oct. 15 at 9 a.m.

Application criteria includes:

  • Must be current limited-term, tenure-track, or tenured TRUFA or TRUOLFA members. Note, faculty members, individually or jointly, as well as course teams may submit grant proposals.
  • Complete the application form in full.
  • TRUFA members must secure letters of support from both their dean and department chair.
  • TRUOLFA members must secure a letter of support from the Director of Curriculum Development and Delivery, Paul Martin.

Two grants are available for fall 2019. Each recipient may receive up to $6,500 to use for things such as a course release or to hire research assistants to adopt, adapt, create and/or integrate open textbooks and other OER as their primary course materials. An additional $500 may be available for travel costs required for the circulation and publication of their final OERs.

For more information, check out the Library’s OER grant page: