Provostial Guidance on the Use of Digital Learning Resources

Background: The Ministry of Colleges and Universities state in the Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines for Publicly-Assisted Universities [PDF] (page 23), that all universities are expected to have a policy regarding digital learning resources (DLRs).

“Fees for digital learning materials that are the property of the student and which can include test/assessment tools.

  • The Ministry considers the payment of tuition as supporting the cost of instruction and assessment. Where a course or program relies substantially on assessments that are included with a learning resource, such as an online textbook, the Ministry expects universities to have a policy with respect to their students’ interests in these situations. Such a policy could include a rebate to students of a portion of their textbook fees where bundled assessments represent a substantial portion of a student’s mark for a course. (MCU, pp. 23-24)”
  • The Ministry acknowledges the contribution that these resources can make to the quality of teaching and learning, including support for adaptive learning and formative assessment. Universities should be proactive in monitoring conditions attached to the use of learning resources by faculty and students, to ensure consistency with institutional academic policies and values.”

Provostial Guidance on the Use of Digital Learning Resources

Brock acknowledges the value that DLRs can offer to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. This value must also align with the student’s expectations to understand required course fees so that they are able to make informed decisions about course selection. It is also important that Brock considers how to ensure an inclusive, equitable and accessible environment for students.

Therefore, the purpose of this document is to provide guidelines on the use of digital learning resources (DLRs) in accordance with the Ministry Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines for Publicly Assisted Universities.

Definitions: For the purposes of this guidance document, a “Digital Learning Resources (DLR)” is defined as online and/or downloaded resource (e.g., software, online access code) or digital device (e.g., clicker) that is required for students in addition to a course required textbook, readings or creative works. Examples of this could be software licenses, downloadable course materials, website subscriptions and paid access for associated course materials.

Guidelines: To align with the Ministry recommendations, Brock has provided the following guidance for the use of DLRs.  It is noted that these guidelines are not binding, and instructors have academic freedom in their teaching methods.  It is hoped that these points will provide instructors with ideas and parameters for decision making related to DLR in their courses that will support Brock’s commitment to ensuring students an accessible and high-quality academic experience:

  • The total cost of an DLRs should not, normally, exceed $75.00 in charge to the student for a half credit course and should not exceed $100.00 for a full credit course.
  • Instructors should consider the percentage of the course that this DLR accounts for. Normally the use of the DLR should not account for more than 20% of the student’s overall assessment of the course.
  • If the instructor is not able to meet the cost and grade value conditions as stated above, then they should endeavor to provide a no fee alternative and place details of this assignment in the course outline. For example, this can take the form of comparable alternative assignments, tests or quizzes or lab activities that will be at no cost to the student.
  • Instructors are asked to consider indicating in the course outline the DLRs that must be purchased, the associated costs, by when this must be purchased and the percentage of the course grade it will account for in their assessments. This would mean that the students have the appropriate information available to make financial decisions before the last date to drop the course.
  • When possible, students should not be compelled to purchase a textbook combined with a digital resource, therefore an option to purchase the DLRs alone should be made available.
  • The publisher or vendor of the DLR should be asked to confirm that the resource is AODA compliant.
  • Instructors should review the DLR to ensure that they will not be blocked by firewalls in other countries to accommodate internationals international students.
  • Instructors are highly encouraged to work with publishers, the university library, and other resources/units to make options available for students for whom the cost of the digital resources may present undue hardship.