No textbooks? No problem

May 3, 2019
By: 
Julian Paquette

Students studying in two School of Education and Technology graduate programs no longer have to pay for—or lug around—expensive textbooks.

The Master of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) and Graduate Diploma in Learning and Technology (DipLAT) are some of the first North American programs to go textbook-free. Students can access all of the course materials through open educational resources, e-books, journal articles and other free digital resources.

These types of courses, dubbed “Zed Creds” or “Z-degrees”, aim to improve access to education and enhance student outcomes. MALAT is the first master of arts degree in Canada to make this transition.  

Canada Research Chair Prof. George Veletsianos and MALAT Program Head Prof. Elizabeth Childs of the School of Education and Technology have led the Zed Cred efforts at Royal Roads.

“Our goal is to improve teaching and learning,” says Veletsianos. “In these programs, textbooks are largely substituted by open educational resources. This allows us to not only reduce the costs that our students bear, but also allows us to modify materials to improve the way that we teach and the way that our students learn.”

And it’s not just about textbooks. Students in these programs also work in more open ways.

“Instead of knowledge being stuck behind or embedded in textbooks, now it’s more out and visible to people,” says Childs. “It is an example of how you can share the good work you’re doing so that others can benefit from it.”

Childs says more open learning approaches are to come at Royal Roads and beyond. “There’s much more momentum now in Canada and globally,” she says.

In April, the BC government announced funding of $3.26 million for open education resources including more open textbooks. These resources use licenses that allow instructors to modify and adapt materials to fit the unique needs of their students and courses.