KPU unveils sweet suite of courses with no-cost textbooks

Wed, Nov 1, 2017

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) are about to save thousands of dollars on their education, thanks to dozens of courses that don’t require expensive, commercial textbooks.

Launched Nov. 1, the courses are part of KPU’s Zed Cred program, which is the first of its kind in Canada. The "Z" in Zed Cred refers to zero textbook costs and the “Cred” refers to an entire program, in this case KPU’s certificate of arts credential.

“Even a single textbook can cost well over $100, which means a student can spend thousands of dollars on textbooks on top of the cost of tuition during their post-secondary career,” said Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, a university teaching fellow in open studies and psychology instructor.

KPU has launched more than 50 courses in the Faculty of Arts that use either free open textbooks or free library materials that are available online.

Third-year KPU psychology student Bethany Borkowski is already planning to take three Zed Cred courses in counselling psychology, sociology, and journalism. Borkowski estimates she’s spent about $700 on textbooks to date, despite buying mostly old and used editions.

“The high cost of textbooks limits university learning to those who have accessibility and the financial resources available to cover additional costs,” says Borkowski. “I know many people who do not buy textbooks because of the cost, and they miss out on valuable information for a course.”

In fact, Jhangiani recently published his research showing that 54 per cent of B.C. post-secondary students do not purchase at least one of their required course textbooks because of cost.

The introduction of Zed Cred means Borkowski will no longer have to guess what page an instructor is referring to due to differences in their respective textbook editions, she’ll have access to her materials anywhere, and she won’t have to carry any heavy tomes around with her.

Borkowski says open educational resources also make courses much more engaging.

“Instead of just reading from a textbook, we had access to more resources online through hyperlinks in the text and suggested readings from the instructor.”

KPU’s Zed Cred was made possible thanks to a $35,000 grant from BCcampus to adopt and adapt pre-existing free online open education resources as well as create new ones.

KPU also received an Open Education Resource Grant, which matches BCcampus funding with KPU funding for creating new open textbooks, redesigning existing resources, and providing workshops, training and other support services.

KPU is already the leading institutional adopter of open textbooks in B.C.

“KPU is a proudly open access university,” notes Dr. Diane Purvey, dean of the Faculty of Arts. “Zed Cred is in complete alignment with our mission to create pathways to enable all learners to become successful.”

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