The B.C. government is set to make popular textbooks available online for free, in a move that is certain to please broke, arch-backed post-secondary students.

Free online textbooks are going to be available for the 40 most popular post-secondary courses. It's part of a program aimed at making education more affordable and accessible for students and families.

The initiative is the first of its kind in Canada.

"By taking advantage of technology, more people can get the learning they need in the knowledge economy and access to new or better jobs," John Yap, B.C.'s advanced education minister, said in a news release Tuesday.

The "open textbooks" will be created with help from B.C. faculty, publishers and schools through a process that will be run by BCcampus, a group that works to make education more accessible through technology.

Instructors can also choose to use other teaching material in their courses.

Open textbooks are usually published under open licenses -- which allow people to access, re-use and re-distribute content with few or no financial or copyright restrictions. They can also be printed for a fraction of the usual cost of a university textbook.

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