Free Online Textbooks Coming to Ontario

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Paying for post-secondary education is already a challenge, and college or university goers can attest to the fact that textbooks are a huge expense.

Now, the province is investing $1 million in free online textbooks and educational resources.

This is a big move for the education system in Ontario - textbooks are yet another hit on students’ wallets, many of whom are already struggling to pay tuition.

For those students who don't mind reading online textbooks instead of physical textbooks, this could mean massive savings.

Online textbooks are typically already cheaper than physical textbooks, but now, in partnership with eCampusOntario, Ontario aims to provide free and low-cost digital textbooks to students.

New materials developed for Ontario will be added to the eCampusOntario online library of free educational resources which launched this month.

According to the province, surveys suggest that about two thirds of students have skipped buying or renting textbooks because of the cost.

Having more open-source materials will not only help post-secondary students, but also grow the global online library.

"Paying for textbooks is a challenge for too many students," said Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Digital Government Deb Matthews. "By supporting a movement of free online textbooks and other open educational resources, we are removing yet another financial barrier to accessing postsecondary education in Ontario - so our students can stay focused on learning, and less on paying for their higher education."

The Ontario Open Textbooks Initiative aims to focus on Ontario-specific content in areas where the most significant impact and cost savings for students can be realized.

That includes books for high-enrolment first-year courses, French language content, content for Indigenous studies, trades and technical skills content, and content for new Canadians.

The new Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is already being implemented this fall, which hopes to provide free average tuition to more than 210,000 students. By next year, it is estimated that some 230,000 students receiving OSAP will have less debt.

In combination, the new OSAP strategy and the free online textbook program will hopefully provide post-secondary students with some relief.

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