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Open Educational Resources

OER Success Stories at Queen's

We asked the successful recipients of the 2017/18 funding (issued by the Open and Affordable Course Materials Working Group, supported by the Provost's Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning), about the benefits of creating new open textbooks for their courses.

Here is what they had to say: 

PSYC204: Applications and Careers in the Psychological Sciences

Meghan NorrisCompiled and edited by Meghan Norris, Chair of Undergraduate Studies, Queen's Psychology.

"This open access book will explore how psychological science has been used to answer real-world questions and will also explore careers associated with different sub-disciplines of psychological science. It includes chapters written by experts across Canada".- Dr. Meghan Norris


Why Open Access?

An Open Access textbook on Applications and Careers in the Psychological Sciences will present evidence-based content in an easily accessible manner to assist not only Queen's students, but also students and policy makers more broadly.

Benefits of this open access textbook include:

  • Making education affordable: This course has a maximum enrollment of 200 students.  This open access text is expected to save students approximately $100 each!
  • Addressing a gap in the textbook market: Psychology undergraduate programs are some of the most popular undergraduate degree programs, yet some students report not immediately seeing ways in which their training can translate to the workforce (Borden & Rajecki, 2000). The intention of this book is to fill this gap.
  • Supporting evidence-based learning: This book stresses the importance of the science underlying psychology, and connects psychological science to real-world applications.

Introductory Physics: Building Models to Describe Our World

Ryan MartinBy Dr. Ryan Martin, Assistant Professor, Subatomic Physics & Particle Astrophysics, Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy, Emma Neary, Undergraduate Physics Student, Olivia Woodman, Undergraduate Physics Student.

"I have always been a strong supporter of open-access educational resources. In the five years that I have been a faculty member, I have ensured that students in my classes were not required to purchase any course materials" - Dr. Ryan Martin. 


Why Open Access?

  • Open & Flexible by Design: Traditional physics textbooks do not connect the laboratory component of introductory courses to the material in the text. With the new textbook, we have developed an “experimental physics curriculum”, and each chapter includes suggestions for experiments to conduct in the lab. The text also includes an appendix aimed at developing scientific writing and evaluation skills. 

I designed the textbook to be adapted for a flipped classroom approach wherein students complete reading assignments before the lectures (reading + quiz), and the readings are discussed in-class using “just-in-time” teaching.

I integrated practice questions for students and collected from students - to complete as part of their reading assignments, as well as simple “experiments” to conduct at home and develop their skills in thinking like a physicist.

  • Cost for students: The enrollment for PHYS 104/106 is around 220 students. With the new textbook and the development of the in-class response system, the cost to students was eliminated completely, leading to a student saving of approximately $26k per year.
  • Introductory Physics: Building Models to Describe Our World cover pageAn Experiential Learning Opportunity: The $7,500 grant I received towards creating my new textbook has given me the opportunity to hire two students that have previously taken the course with me so that I may benefit from their insights and develop a text that better supports the active-learning elements of my course.  Peer-students are co-authors of this new textbook, they have created practice problems as well as “alternative explanation” sections where difficult material is explained.

"The students who took my course last year were very excited to hear that we were developing a new text for the course.  Students strongly support open-access educational resources, even when those are less “polished” than commercial offerings". - Dr. Ryan Martin

QPeds Pediatrics Textbook

Peter MacPherson

By Dr. Peter MacPherson, Assistant Professor, General Pediatrics. School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

"There is a pressing need for an open pediatrics textbook for undergraduate medical students."  - Dr. Peter MacPherson


Why Open Access?

  • Cost for students: The financial savings to students at Queen’s will be approximately $10,000 annually. The QPeds Pediatrics Textbook will carry medical students through the four years of the MD program. It will serve as the primary text for the first year class in Pediatrics and Genetics as well as the third year clerkship rotation in Pediatrics. It will also support a number of other organ system-based courses in the MD program. 
  • Student Learning: Conceptually, the textbook will support a spiral curriculum, with learners iteratively revisiting the content over the four year program and progressively honing their knowledge, skills and attitudes. Theoretically, the project reflects a constructivist approach to education. The focus on the PUPDOC objectives will support students in their personal construction of frameworks of knowledge to approach undifferentiated clinical symptoms. In the classroom, our textbook will enable us to move beyond simple content delivery and use valuable instructional time to address more subtle and complex topics, often in a small group setting.

"Our team had an existing interest in open educational resources and we jumped at the chance to obtain a grant to create an open textbook. In addition to financial support, we have also benefited from guidance and mentorship from the Open and Affordable Course Materials working group"  Dr. Peter MacPherson. 

Student Co-Authors of Open Textbooks at Queen's

Contributing to the creation or adaptation of open textbooks and other open educational resources provides a unique experiential learning opportunity for students at Queen's.

Emma NearyEmma Neary

What are the benefits of Open Educational Resources for students at Queen's? 

  • Tuition, housing and student debt fees are at an all time high for Queen’s students. With more open access resources, students’ finances won’t impact their ability to access imperative educational resources.  I believe that open access course materials are the first step in ensuring that university is realistically accessible for everyone! 

What was your experience as co-author of a new open textbook?

  • So far in my work with the First Year Physics 104/106 textbook, I have had the unique opportunity to directly apply the skills that I learned all year while taking the course, to develop a resource for students.
  • I think that creating more open access resources gives students a unique opportunity for professors and students to collaborate and clarify course concepts from different perspectives. Not only do OER’s create resources while training students, but they allow former students to actually make an impact in the course for future students.


Olivia WoodmanOlivia Woodman

What are the benefits of Open Educational Resources for students at Queen's?

  • With textbooks being as expensive as they are, the costs pile up even more.  Though most everyone feels the strain of this cost, it affects some more than others, which means that education is not as inclusive as it should be. Grants provided by Queen's enable textbooks to be created and distributed online at a low cost.

What was your experience as co-author of a new open textbook?

  • I was incredibly excited to hear that Queen’s was working on an open access textbook initiative, and I knew immediately that I wanted to get involved. 
  • Assisting with the creation of an open access textbook for first year physics has been a valuable experience for me. I have not only been able to work on a project that I feel passionate about, but have been able to improve my own skills and develop new ones. 
  • Having recently taken first year physics, I feel that I have a unique perspective to offer in the creation of the textbook, as I can understand which concepts students often struggle with and can share the tips and tricks I use to understand the material.


Open Textbook Reviewers 2017/18

The successful proposals to review an existing openly licensed, high-quality, peer-reviewed textbook for 2017/18 were:

  • Nancy Salay, reviewing forall x: An Introduction to Formal Logic, by Magnus for PHIL361 F.
  • Ugurhan Berkok reviewing Principles of Microeconomics: Saylor, by Rittenberg and Tregarthen and Principles of Microeconomics: OpenStax, by Taylor for ECON111 F
  • George Boland Reviewing Intermediate Financial Accounting (Volume 1), Arnold et al and Intermediate Financial Accounting (Volume 2), Arnold et al for COMM313 F.‚Äč

eCampus Ontario Grant Recipients 2017/18

Congratulation to Sidneyeve Matrix who received funding from eCampusOntario, (2017/18 Call) to adapt three existing open resources on design thinking into a single new open text suitable for her high-enrolment (300) first-year post-secondary course in design thinking.