Introduction to Open Textbooks at Douglas College

Territorial Acknowledgment

We recognize and acknowledge the QayQayt (Ki-Kite) and the Kwikwetlem First Nation, as well as all Coast Salish Peoples, on whose traditional and unceded territories we live, we learn, we play, and we do our work.

Here is a picture of the Welcome Pole at our Aboriginal Gathering Place.  She faces up river and her arms are raised in welcome.

Welcome pole - wooden carving of woman with arms held up and open
Welcome Pole at Douglas College. Photo credit: Jennifer Kirkey CC0

Cover Image

The cover image is a copyright free image CC0 from   The photographer  Sasha Volga

Open Textbooks

As stated on the BCcampus website,,   An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public. They are available for free as online versions and in a variety of file formats (e.g., for eReaders, editable files like XML and HTML), and as low-cost printed versions, should students or faculty opt for these. Open textbooks are a way to significantly reduce student textbook costs while giving instructors the flexibility to reformat and customize their course material. They are an affordable, flexible alternative to traditionally-published textbooks.

Jennifer Kirkey and Open Textbooks

Looking up at the sky as a child, I was fascinated by the stars.   The local library supplied a book on the constellations, and that led to a book explaining why the stars were different colours, and that led to a book on physics.    I kept asking questions and that led me to a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and then to a Master’s degree in Physics from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

I have been working at Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada for more than twenty-five years.   I teach a first year course in astronomy to liberal arts majors and physics to people whose background is no physics in high school to those who want to be engineers.  I also teach in a post-graduate program for Elementary School Teachers.

I volunteer with our local science centre, Science World at Telus World of Science in Vancouver, B.C., doing outreach visits to elementary and secondary schools, as well as being active with the local branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.


Jennifer Kirkey and the 8 inch Celestron Telescope at Douglas College Photo credit:  Jennifer Kirkey June 2015   (CC-BY license)

Open textbooks became a cause of mine as I found more and more of my students could not afford the “required” textbook.   BCcampus organized an Open Textbook Summit in 2015 and the keynote speaker, Rajiv Jhangiani from Kwantlen Polytechnic University was so inspiring that I became a BCcampus Faculty Fellow as an Advocate for Open Textbooks in 2016.  I do wish to thank BCcampus for their work with open educational resources such as this textbook, and for the opportunities they have given me.    You can learn more about them by visiting

Being able to modify a textbook so that it better matched our courses was the next logical step.  This book is the start of the process.

Here is a picture I took at the start of the semester in September 2016.   This bulletin board is located outside our college’s bookstore.   Students who clearly did not need their old textbooks, or who needed the money to buy new ones, put up posters in an attempt to sell their old books.  I do hope that you find this textbook useful and worth keeping.  Please tell us what worked for you in this book, and what did not.  We have the legal ability to change the book and your feedback will help us.

Cork board outside Douglas College Bookstore. Most of those posters are students offering their textbooks for sale. Photo credit:  Jennifer Kirkey September 2016   (CC-BY license)


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