Julien: expanding open access etextbook

Project title: Open for Learning: an evidence-based approach to present the case for expanding open access etextbook creation at La Trobe University

International, national and local evidence convincingly demonstrates the efficacy of open access etextbooks for student learning outcomes, experience and satisfaction. In 2017, The La Trobe eBureau was launched with three open access etextbooks written by La Trobe University (LTU) academics; these etextbooks were published as a partnership between LTU authors and the LTU library. Preliminary usage data indicates a high uptake of these etextbooks with over 1500 downloads since March 2017.

As more teaching and learning is occurring in blended and fully-online contexts and students entering university today have access to and use devices including smartphones, laptops and tablets, it makes sense to provide students with resources intentionally designed for an online and blended learning environment. Open access etextbooks are available freely anytime and anywhere and this is particularly important for students at an economic disadvantage.

LTU has a proud tradition of enrolling and retaining students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds with participation rates higher than the state and national averages and plans to increase this population. Students from low SES backgrounds are particularly burdened by the high price of traditionally published textbooks.

This project will investigate the following questions in a local context:

  • How are the open access etextbooks produced by The La Trobe eBureau perceived by La Trobe students and academics?, and
  • What are the institutional benefits and barriers to adopting widespread use of open access etextbooks at La Trobe?

Ethics approval: E17-037

Key investigators

  • Dr Brianna Julien
  • Dr Louise Lexis
  • Ms Fiona Salisbury
  • Professor Birgit Loch