Make the Switch

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Textbook publishers rake in huge profits off the backs of students who already face many financial barriers to education, ever-increasing tuition and fees, and high student loan debt. High textbook costs are just another obstacle for students already struggling to obtain a post-secondary education in British Columbia.
Make The Switch is an awareness campaign run by students to encourage instructors at Capilano University to start using free, open educational resources (OERs) to help make education more affordable and accessible! Through the campaign, the Capilano Students’ Union is also providing resources to empower students to have conversations with their professors about the high cost of textbooks and the other great (free) alternatives that are available to use!

It’s time for instructors at Capilano University to #maketheswitch to open educational resources. These free educational materials are accessible, affordable, and fully customizable. They increase student success and affordability, allowing greater access to knowledge and quality of learning.


  • Post your textbook receipts on social media tagging @capstudentunion and #maketheswitch. How would a switch to OERs improve your educational experience?
  • Talk to your instructors about OERs. Most of the time, profs don’t actually know how much the textbooks cost for their class as publishers give them copies for free! Explain to them how the cost of textbooks has affected you as a student, and tell them how open textbooks would benefit you.  Use this email template to ask them to #MakeTheSwitch directly! Reach out if you need help or support.
  • Learn more about OERs and what resources are available. Check out BCcampus for information, and feel free to email us [mailto: [email protected]] for more information.


  • #maketheswitch today and start using OERs in your classroom! Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, the Centre for Teaching Excellence and BCcampus both have great resources to point you in the right direction. 
  • If you’ve already made the switch, please share your story with us and other faculty members! Post on social media explaining why moving to OERs was a good choice for you. Remember to tag @capstudentunion and #maketheswitch or email us directly [mailto: [email protected]] .

Frequently Asked Questions

Open educational resources (OERs) is a broad term used to describe teaching and learning materials that are open source and freely distributed. They can be anything from full courses and lesson plans, to videos, exams, textbooks, and labs. They typically come in digital formats free-of-charge, and available to print at very low cost.

  • Instructors are actually limited by traditional textbooks, as their course curriculum has to follow the outline of the commercial textbook. With OERs, instructors are free to edit and mix resources from different outlets, allowing them to tailor-make their curriculum that they feel is right for students.
  • OERs are always current and up-to-date, using the latest research and information available. Traditional textbooks very quickly go out of date, and instructors have to keep using the latest edition to ensure what they are teaching is accurate. This makes it harder for students to resell textbooks, especially if the edition just changed. With OERs, instructors have access to all the latest information and can update their course content with just a click!
  • They are free or very low cost. This is one of the biggest advantages of OERs — they reduce a huge financial barrier that many students face in accessing post-secondary

OERs are of comparable or higher quality to tradition textbooks. Not only are they peer-reviewed and based in scientific research but, since they live online, they will always be updated to contain the most up-to-date research in the given subject area. 

While both OERs and e-books can be accessed online, that’s about the end of their similarities. Open textbooks are open source and so can be copied, printed, and distributed freely for low cost. Furthermore, some educational e-books have an expiry for how long a student can access them, whereas OERs can be viewed forever.

Yes! However, OERs are not like traditional textbooks. OERs are released to the public under an open-license. This means that the authors have given permission for anyone to edit, copy, distribute and print the materials as they see fit without the need to ask for permission. OERs cannot be sold for profit, and work should be attributed to its author.

Capilano University is still in the process of developing OERs for their courses. The best first step would be to ask your instructor if they have considered an OER for the course. If they haven’t, or don’t know what OERs are, take the opportunity to educate them about the benefits using the resources found on this page and ask if they could consider using an OER for the course in the future. 



Over 50% of students in British Columbia do not buy required course textbooks due to the high cost?


 More than 25% of potential students decided not to register for a class because they couldn’t afford the cost of course materials.

  • More than 25% of potential students decided not to register for a class because they couldn’t afford the cost of course materials.