At the start of the current school year RMIT Vietnam implemented a no prescribed textbook initiative as part of the University’s overall digital strategy and vision towards 2020, according to the school’s library head.
Clare O’Dwyer, Head of Library Services & Student Academic Success, explains that RMIT Vietnam strives to transform the student experience using digital content. One way to do this is by shifting from hardcopy textbooks to online resources.
“We had almost 20,000 textbooks and one of the major issues was that some were out-of-date and quite expensive to replace,” Ms O’Dwyer explains. “At the same time, we have a university library collection which students have low awareness of.”
This online repository includes over 300 databases, 300,000 e-books, and 120,000 journal titles available at any time from anywhere.
Ms O’Dwyer and the library team met with academics school-wide to both increase awareness of these online resources and lay the groundwork for the move away from traditional textbooks.
“We presented to academic meetings and met with nearly every academic in the University,” she says.
“We have learning and teaching librarians who led this project, and they knew that they had a target of zero for prescribed textbooks for each School.
“What we did was to have very customised digital subject guides on our library webpage and showed academics what digital content to use.”
Then, at the end of the last school year, RMIT gave away all of its textbooks to students and alumni. “There are no hardcopy textbooks in our stock, so nobody can turn back,” Ms O’Dwyer says.
Professor Gael McDonald, RMIT Vietnam’s President, shared recently that such initiatives are vital to the University’s mission. “Our priority is to promote and facilitate digitally enabled, industry relevant, and work integrated learning experiences,” she said.
In addition to the replacement of hard copy textbooks with multimodal digital learning materials, Professor McDonald noted a number of other initiatives aimed at creating a digitally enabled learning experience.
“In 2016 we implemented blended, flipped, and fully online delivery modes in 17 core courses in our largest programs.
“We also launched the Centre of Digital Excellence to contribute to the development of the country’s educational capacity.
“And we’ve invested in a new learning space to build capacity in the use of augmented and virtual realities.”
Ms O’Dwyer believes that doing away with textbooks will prepare students for the future. “Our students are in a region of the world where they’re competing with students from Hong Kong and Singapore where they do have the leading digital resources,” she says.
“So to make sure the quality of our education and service is international, students should know how to use these digital literacy skills.”
Story: Michael Tatarski