Florida’s Zero Textbook Cost Course Indicator FAQ’s
What is the Florida Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) course Indicator?
The Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) course indicator is a designation within the FloridaShines State Online Course Catalog that courses receive when the course section requires course materials at no cost to students.
What does Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) mean?
Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) refers to the cost of course materials required by students to succeed in that course. The ZTC course indicator is used as a course designation to inform students that there are no textbook costs required with the course. These ZTC courses are permitted to use library resources or other high-quality, freely available resources as long as there are zero costs for the students’ access and use of these resources.
Florida’s Zero Textbook Cost Definition:
A Zero Textbook Cost icon may be placed with any course section requiring course materials at no cost to students.
- Required course materials associated with the section must be zero cost for student access, including ancillaries, homework, quizzes, etc.
- These resources must be freely accessible to the students without barriers. Placement within the registered student LMS is permitted provided the student has no additional costs for course section materials for the entire semester.
- Students have access to materials on the first day of class and through course completion. It is preferable that students have a way to retain these educational resources for continued learning and reference (at minimal through degree completion or separation from the institution).
- The format of materials may be either print, digital, or both.
- Students may have the option for print-on-demand for digital materials, if a no-cost option is available to all students.
- Courses where students are required to print materials would NOT qualify.
- May include open educational resources, faculty developed content, institution developed content, institutionally retained or licensed campus library materials that all students enrolled in the course have simultaneous access to use, public domain, Creative Commons licensed, or any other properly licensed and adopted materials.
- Optional resources may be for cost but must not be necessary for student success in the course.
- Other required supplies (e.g. scantrons, scientific calculators, lab materials, etc.) are not considered a textbook cost, so if a course section meets the parameters noted above but has a materials fee, the section may still be considered ZTC.
- Fees to access an online platform to do coursework or homework are considered a textbook cost, and therefore the course section would NOT qualify.
Will I find courses from all colleges and universities with Florida Zero Textbook (ZTC) Cost course indicators within the FloridaShines catalog?
While all public colleges and universities in the state of Florida have been invited and encouraged to participate in using the ZTC course indicator, participation is voluntary. If you would like to know more about supporting the addition of the ZTC course indicator for your institution's courses please contact our help desk, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can a college or university participate in the Florida Zero Textbook (ZTC) Cost course Indicator initiative?
Each semester public colleges and universities in the state of Florida are invited to upload their online course offerings to the FloridaShines Course Catalog. During that upload process, they may add the indicator to the sections that meet the state defined criteria for Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) course indicators.
What is the difference between ZTC and OER?
Zero-Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses use course materials that are available at no cost to the student. Zero-Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses may rely on a variety of no cost content, including open educational resources (OER), library resources, and other high quality, free to access resources to eliminate textbook costs for all students in that section.
OER - Open Educational Resources (OER) are created by applying open use rights through a content license. Depending on the license terms, OER may permit personal use, sharing, adapting, distributing, and/or remixing of the content. To put it simply: OER = Free + Permission to Use; ZTC = Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) refers to the student’s cost of required course materials in order to succeed in the course. It is used as a course designation to inform students that there are no textbook costs for the course. These ZTC courses are permitted to use library resources or other high-quality, freely available resources as long as there are zero costs for the students’ access and use of these resources.
Note: not all OER courses are also ZTC courses. In some instances, although the course may use all OER materials, there may be a cost for the students to access the platform with those OER materials.
Does this align with Textbook Affordability initiatives around the state of Florida?
Yes, Florida is committed to improving access to high quality, higher education with affordable or no cost textbooks and materials for all students. Below are a few examples of additional efforts in Florida:
- Florida Virtual Campus: OPEN FL
- Florida Board of Governors: Textbook Affordability
- Florida Department of Education: College and Textbook Affordability Report
- State University System of Florida: Textbook Action Plan
- Florida International University: Affordability Counts
- University of Florida: Affordable UF Badges
How can I identify ZTC courses in the FloridaShines Course Catalog?
Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses on the FloridaShines Catalog are identified with an indicator, or icon, that contains the ZTC initials. This icon displays in the overview, as well as the details of the course section.
Additionally, students can filter their search to find courses that are designated as ZTC in the FloridaShines Course Catalog.
How do courses get the ZTC designation?
Institutions offering course sections that meet the criteria for the Florida Zero Textbook (ZTC) Cost course indicator are able to include the ZTC designation during their semester course upload process, for the FloridaShines State Course Catalog. For a detailed definition and criteria of the Florida Zero Textbook (ZTC) Cost course Indicator, visit the definition page.
Is there any relation between ZTC and HQ or Q indicators?
No, ZTC is related to the cost of the materials for the course, and HQ / Q indicators are a designation a course may receive for its design, after undergoing a course review process.
What is the difference between course materials and course supplies?
Course materials associated with the section may include textbooks, workbooks, ancillaries, homework, quizzes, etc. Course materials must be no cost to students to obtain the Zero Textbook (ZTC) Cost course indicator.
Course supplies associated with the section may include scantrons, scientific calculators, lab materials, etc. Course supplies will often result in an incurred cost for the student. Required course supplies are not considered a textbook cost, so if a course section meets the parameters noted in the definition (link), but has a supplies fee, the section may still be considered ZTC course.
If a course has an assessment fee (e.g. remote proctored test, program outcomes assessment), could the course qualify for ZTC?
Yes, as long as there is a free assessment option for the student, the course can qualify as a ZTC course.
What is the difference between required course materials and recommended/optional course materials?
Required course materials are necessary for the student to be successful in the course.
Recommended or optional course materials are suggested, and may be helpful in the course, but they are not necessary for student’s success in the course.
Is the Florida Zero Textbook (ZTC) Cost course Indicator only for online courses?
While the FloridaShines State Course Catalog participating institutions are only required to report online course offerings, the Florida Zero Textbook (ZTC) Cost course Indicator may apply to courses offered in all modalities.
Can students filter their search for ZTC courses, to find them in the FloridaShines Course Catalog?
Yes. Students are able to filter their search to find courses that are designated as ZTC in the FloridaShines Course Catalog.
What should students do if they find a discrepancy in the catalog?
Students are able to contact the FLVC Help Desk for assistance or to report any discrepancies in the FloridaShines catalog. The FLVC Help Desk will immediately report the discrepancy to the institution and request an update for the data in the catalog, to reflect accurate information about any updates or changes to a course.