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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Information about using open educational resources (OER) at Red Deer Polytechnic.

Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC)

What is ZTC?

ZTC stands for zero textbook cost. ZTC courses include courses using library-licensed materials, publicly available materials, works in the public domain, Open Educational Resources (OER), and Open Access publications. This attribute will also be used for labs, clinicals, or seminars with no required resources.

The most important feature of ZTC courses is that there is no cost for students to access the required course resources. 

What are the benefits of adding ZTC to the Timetable?

The creation of a ZTC attribute allows Red Deer Polytechnic to leverage existing courses and encourage the creation of additional courses with zero textbook cost.

  • Student enrollment. According to the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union (UASU) recent student surveys, 15.7% of students have selected courses purely based on textbook costs, and 94% of students have taken measures to avoid textbook costs. The addition of a ZTC attribute improves student enrollment by showcasing the reduced costs associated with ZTC courses.
  • Student retention. Approximately 11% of the price of an undergraduate degree is textbook costs (Stats Can, 2019; Maclean’s, 2018); this cost is disproportionately felt by first-year students, possibly leading to a reduced retention rate. Dropped courses can have a direct bearing on tuition, and even a modest reduction in dropped courses could make a noticeable difference in revenue.
  • Faculty recognition. Many ZTC courses are currently offered at Red Deer Polytechnic, but there is no formal recognition or designation for these courses.
  • Equality. The cost of course materials disproportionately impacts low-income students. Additionally, a pandemic-time study conducted by Statistics Canada found that 48% of students with a job reported either losing their job or being temporarily laid off. Through the creation of a ZTC attribute, Red Deer Polytechnic can leverage affordable learning resources and solutions during a time of financial hardship while simultaneously promoting equitable access to course content and providing better outcomes within courses for students.


Adding ZTC to the RDP Timetable

In the 2021-2022 Timetable, ZTC was added as an attribute; in the 2022-2023 Timetable, the attribute was added as a searchable filter for search results.

How does this impact me as an instructor?

Prior to the timetable's publication in April, you may be asked to identify if your course can be considered to be zero textbook cost (ZTC).

After the Timetable is published and viewable to students, this attribute should not be removed. Students may make decisions about enrollment based on the ZTC attribute, and it is unfair to these students if the ZTC attribute is removed after they have already enrolled.

For more information, please see ABCs of ZTC: Zero Textbook Cost - A Quick Guide

ZTC Student Survey

Executive Summary

The Course Resources and Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) survey sought to assess average textbook costs in Fall 2022, students’ use and perceptions of the ZTC attribute in the 2022-2023 Timetable, and the overall impact of textbook costs on RDP students.

In September 2022, this survey was distributed to 3880 credit students at Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP). 923 responses were received (23.8% response rate). Due to the large sample size and even distribution of participants across RDP programs and departments, these responses can be considered representative of the credit student population.

The survey results illustrate the high cost of course resources across credit programs at RDP. For RDP students, these high costs have required students to seek financial aid, work additional hours, miss paying other bills, and skip meals. This survey data shows that RDP students are reluctantly making difficult decisions between prioritizing living expenses, such as groceries and rent, and their ability to learn and participate in their courses.

Based on the Course Resources and Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) survey, the researchers have the following recommendations:

  1. RDP faculty continue selecting course resources that best support the course learning outcomes. RDP faculty are encouraged to carefully evaluate whether each resource is required or recommended for students to successfully achieve the course learning outcomes.
  2. Where possible, RDP faculty are encouraged to consider converting their courses to ZTC, with no cost associated with the required course resources.
  3. RDP administration, staff, and faculty continue utilizing the ZTC attribute as planned in the 2023-24 Timetable. For more information, please see ABCs of ZTC: Zero Textbook Cost - A Quick Guide

These recommendations ensure that Red Deer Polytechnic students are fully prepared and empowered for academic success.

Full Report