Amy Brennan | November 21 2010
Many colleges are trying to implement new plans where students pay a course materials fee which would be used towards buying e-books, or online versions of textbooks, which purport to save students money.
A study conducted by the National Association of College Stores, “Defining the College Store of 2015,” found that electronic textbooks are cheaper than printed textbooks, and are causing many universities to seriously consider making the switch.
In response, Martin helped to work Flat World Knowledge, a site dedicated to providing open source resources and free textbook use online, into Virginia State’s offerings, allowing students free access to resources for their courses online. [snip]
Publishing companies have become well aware of the intensity of the digital conversion. Realizing there may be nothing they can do about the switch, they are attempting to make some profit off of a change which could potentially make obsolescent traditional textbooks. According to the Chronicle, major publishing company McGraw-Hill Companies has executed a program called Create, which is an example of the “build-a-book” option, ... .
Create allows teachers to customize their own textbook to their students and their respective courses. It permits teachers to cut out unwanted chapters, add extra material from other books, or create study guides. Professors can access a website with 4,000 McGraw-Hill books and an abundance of articles, case studies, or uploaded documents from other professors. [snip].
Clement Seldin, an education professor at the University of Massachusetts, expressed his support for saving students money on books.
“If we were at a high-end school where everyone was driving Mercedes’, I wouldn’t feel bad, but we’re at a state institution. Students in the past have come up to me saying they won’t be back next semester because tuition or fees went up.” To help undergraduate students save money, Professor Seldin has switched from textbooks to his own lecture notes, with supplemental readings posted on SPARK.
“It’s useless making kids buy three textbooks where they’ll only read two chapters. If I can get the same information for free I’ll do that instead.”
While the future is unclear regarding what recipe of books, electronic, in-print or both, will work best, big changes can be expected on the textbook horizon soon.