Thursday, September 13, 2012

Results Should be Interesting from Expanded E-Text Pilot

The results from the first round of the e-textbook pilot program from Internet2 and Educause showed students liked the savings and portability of digital content, but weren’t as thrilled with the reading experience or the fact that instructors often failed to use collaborative features built into the platform.

This fall, the program has been expanded from the original five schools to 26 nationwide, with each paying between $20,000 and $35,000 to collect feedback from the fall 2012 semester. While the 2012 pilots use McGraw-Hill Education e-titles on the Courseload software platform to replace paper books, Internet2 and Educause are planning a new test next year using multiple platforms and publishers.

“It’s important for higher education and, most importantly, for students to have options going forward,” said Shel Waggener, senior vice president for Internet2, in a Center for Digital Education article. “Now, we have the option to rethink the integration of content with the pedagogy with collaboration between students in very new ways.”

The pilots provide a way for the industry to work out issues such as accessibility, according to Waggener, who encourages other universities to jump on the e-textbook bandwagon.

“Universities should not sit on the sidelines and wait for this to become resolved because resolution is not going to be absolute; it’s going to be a continuum, and we all need to have a stake in the game to influence the outcomes,” he said.

Weggener acknowledged the college store in his “do and don’t” list in a blog post at Educause Review Online. Even though the reference is a “don’t,” his suggestions providesome thoughts stores might want to focus on. Since stores are not often invited to participate and more than half of the institutions in the fall 2012 pilot have independent campus stores, collegiate retailers need to find ways to be part of the discussion.

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