Physics course adopts open textbook, saves students $90,000

College Physics is an open textbook published through Rice University’s OpenStax service.

UBC students are collectively saving $90,000 this year in a physics course by shifting to an open textbook.

Students in Introductory Physics (PHYS 100), previously used a commercial textbook as well as four other services or tools to support learning in the course. Beginning in September they began using College Physics, an open textbook published through Rice University’s OpenStax service and iClickers for in-class response. Instructors have integrated the free, openly available textbook into their course website, which was developed by a team of instructors, graduate students and staff members and is hosted on the edX Edge platform. With the changes to the course, each student will now save more than $100. 

“They get to the learning faster,” said Georg Rieger, an instructor who teaches the online version of the course.

Physics 100 is a course for students who didn’t take grade 12 physics and falls within UBC’s 40 highest enrolment courses, with 850 students enrolled this term. The new, integrated course was developed over the summer by Rieger and his colleague, Stefan Reinsberg, an assistant professor in the department, as well as four graduate students, Firas Moosvi, Jason Park, Pedro Luis Esquinas and Scott Veale.

“For us,” Rieger said, “the big interest is really how can you use technology to push the pedagogy and really help the students focus on the physics and not be distracted by all the extraneous stuff like how to get organized and things like that.”

EdX is a non-profit, open source platform developed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. The edX Consortium was formed to support continued development of the platform and to enable Consortium members to offer a range of courses to a worldwide audience, most notably Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). In September 2014, UBC became the first Canadian university to join the edX Consortium as a contributing Charter Member. A key benefit for all members is access to the Edge platform, which allows edX partners to experiment with the available tools and host local campus courses. The Physics 100 project received funding from the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund. The Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology has also provided support for the project.

Physics 100 is a course for students who didn’t take grade 12 physics and falls within UBC’s 40 highest enrolment courses, with 850 students enrolled this term.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia
silvia.moreno-garcia@science.ubc.ca
604.827.5001