Z for zero

To reduce the cost of learning for students in British Columbia, it was necessary to address the high price of textbooks – over half of students surveyed in a recent B.C. research project shared that they chose not to purchase textbooks for at least one course in their program.

A ZTC program is defined as a set of courses in a specific program area that allows a student to earn a credential, such as an associate degree or certificate program, with zero textbook costs by way of using open educational resources and/or free library materials.

Creating and providing open educational resources (OER) was the first step towards reducing the financial impact on students, and as a result of the substantial success of B.C. Open Education, the next logical progression was to go beyond open textbooks for individual courses and target programs that enable students to earn a credential such as a certificate program or associate degree with zero textbook costs.

Flexible and affordable access

In the spring of 2017, we asked B.C. institutions to apply for a grant program to develop pathways to credentials through the adoption and adaptation of existing OER or the creation of new OER. Three institutions were each awarded a grant to help us make the first Zero Textbook Costs (ZTC) possible. The successful applicants were:

  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Certificate in Arts
  • Thompson Rivers University – Certificate in General Studies
  • The Justice Institute of British Columbia – Law Enforcement Studies Diploma

Openly licensed

In keeping with the approach we use to develop open textbooks, the credential pathways are packaged and published so other institutions in B.C. and around the world can make use of the content. Any learning materials created under the Zero Textbook Costs (ZTC) program are required to have a Creative Commons BY licence, which will lead to further and significant savings for students while making a positive impact in the availability and quality of OER.