Monday, March 26, 2012

Electronic Texts Pilot for Fall 2012: Prospectus and Invitation

Internet2 and EDUCAUSE invite your institution to participate in a Fall 2012 electronic-textbook pilot. The pilot’s goal is to explore new business models, terms, and conditions that will enable simpler, more efficient access to digital educational materials (etexts) at your institution. Institutions that participate in the pilot will be helping higher education collectively to demonstrate new etexts models. These seek to provide students substantial savings and to provide publishers greater efficiency and reasonable returns on their textbook investments. The pilot centers on delivering etexts to students and faculty via an institutional site license, rather than through individual purchases by students.

If your institution is interested in joining the pilot, you must let us know by April 7, 2012; your expression of interest must be confirmed by a signed Memorandum of Intent by April 15. The pilot will include no more than 50 institutions.

The pilot involves three components: etexts from major textbook publishers (we expect two or three to participate in due course), a multi-platform e-reader that students and faculty use to access etexts (this will be provided by Courseload), and institutions that agree to identify faculty and course sections interested in using etexts.

The pilot works as follows:

  • Publishers provide participating institutions access to etexts within the specific classes or sections involved in the pilot. Students have access to the etexts until the end of the fall 2012 quarter or semester so long as they remain registered in the class. They may print part or all of the etexts themselves directly from the e-reader, or for a modest fee they may obtain copies of the etexts from a third-party print-on-demand service.
  • Courseload provides faculty and students access to the etexts via an e-reader. The e-reader is integrated with the institution’s Learning Management System (LMS), is based on HTML5, and works on just about every device with a browser including most of those that run Windows, MacOS, iOS, or Android. The e-reader allows faculty and students not only to read the etexts, but also to annotate them, to highlight passages, and to share annotations with fellow students and with faculty. The e-reader is available both online and offline, so that students and faculty can access their etexts even when their devices are disconnected from the Internet.
  • Courseload’s e-reader uses the same authentication mechanism the participating institution already uses to associate students with specific classes or sections in the institution’s LMS or student system. That is, the pilot will not require students to have an additional username or password. Only one LMS/authentication mechanism per participating institution can be integrated.
  • Institutions pay a flat fee for these services. Internet2 will receive these fees and disburse funds to the vendors. The flat fee is all inclusive, and covers the e-reader platform, publisher-provided content, external integration to the LMS, and support. The pilot explicitly excludes per-student, per-item, and other à la carte approaches.
This pilot builds on a successful initiative at Indiana University, later extended to several other institutions through a collaboration with Internet2. Details were further specified by an EDUCAUSE/Internet2 design team comprising Debi Allison (Miami-Ohio), Joel Cooper (Carleton), Jerry Grochow (Internet2), Greg Jackson (EDUCAUSE), Pattie Orr (Baylor), Nik Osborne (Indiana), and Shel Waggener (UC-Berkeley). We have invited major higher-education textbook providers to participate, and several have expressed interest. As of March 20, McGraw Hill has agreed to be one of the participating publishers, and we expect one or two others to agree shortly.

One goal of the pilot is to explore ways to address accessibility and the opportunities the shift to digital can provide. Courseload, publishers, and institutions will work together to ensure that students needing accommodation are served appropriately, and that best practices are documented.

Now, a few more specifics

  • To participate in the pilot, an institution must be a member of EDUCAUSE and/or Internet2.
  • The pilot will comprise no more than 50 individual institutions.
  • Each institution must use a single LMS or SIS for the classes or sections that participate in the pilot.
  • Each institution chooses between two levels of participation. Tier 1 is limited to 20 sections and/or 800 students (whichever limit applies first) for a $20,000 fee. Tier 2 is limited to 40 sections and/or 1600 students (whichever limit applies first) for a $35,000 fee.
  • Participating institutions may also use the Courseload e-reader in additional sections to deliver Open Educational Resources, faculty-authored, or other non-copyrighted digital content as part of the pilot. These additional sections do not count against the total number of sections defined in the tiers, and are provided via Courseload at no additional cost.
  • Publishers and Courseload may not use data on student identity, attributes, usage, or similar information for any purpose not directly relevant to the pilot or any related research project, and must purge all student data at the conclusion of the pilot.
  • Participating institutions will be offered the opportunity to participate in a coordinated research study regarding the effectiveness of the pilot on their campuses.
  • Institutions must express interest by April 7, and are expected to participate in an interactive webinar to make sure they understand the pilot terms and conditions before formally committing to the pilot.
  • Interested institutions must file a formal Memorandum of Intent with Internet2 by April 15 committing to the pilot’s terms and conditions and confirming that they have no contractual conflicts, such as exclusivity clauses with current content providers and/or bookstores.
  • We expect the first 50 institutions to file a Memorandum of Intent to be admitted to the pilot. However, EDUCAUSE and Internet2 may modify the participant list if necessary to ensure a diverse set of participating institutions.

This pilot is an initial proof-of-concept activity under a partnership between Internet2 and EDUCAUSE. It may expand over time to include additional components (such as additional publishers or e-readers). We anticipate it will lay the foundation for further collaboration among the two organizations and outside entities. If you have questions about the pilot, please write to and we will respond as quickly as possible. 22 March 2012 (d)  

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