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Internet2, Educause Partner To Deliver eText Pilot

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(credit: istock) Technology Report
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ANN ARBOR — Washington, D.C.-based Educause and Ann Arbor-based Internet2 Wednesday announced a series of pilot efforts to evaluate technologies and business models in the fast evolving migration from traditional textbooks to digital learning materials.

For the fall 2012 term, the pilot is being conducted in partnership with McGraw-Hill Education and Courseload, through which more than 25 colleges and universities will provide eTexts to their students.

Including educational institutions across the spectrum from major research institutions to community colleges, this pilot aims to advance a new model for the purchase, distribution, and use of electronic textbooks and digital course materials. Participating colleges and universities are listed at the end of this announcement.

The pilot departs from current eText practices in three key ways:
* Replaces individual purchases by students with site licenses negotiated and funded by campuses;
* Substitutes paper textbooks owned by students with electronic materials licensed for use in specific classes; and
* Uses an e-reader not associated with a specific publisher.

Based on the pilot, Educause, Internet2, and the participating institutions will assess the new model for appeal and pedagogical benefit to faculty and students, scalability of the approach, ease of integration with campus learning management environment, and especially how the model supports increased value and lower costs of educational materials. The pilot will help higher education progress toward adoption of more cost-effective procurement of electronic class materials, which are in turn much less expensive than their print predecessors.

Students in participating courses will use McGraw-Hill Education eTexts and digital learning material selected by faculty, as well as the Courseload reader and annotation software, which allows content to be delivered directly through their school’s existing learning management system.

Students will receive their eTexts at no cost as the institutions are subsidizing the study. The e-reader will enable students and instructors to access, highlight, and annotate their eTexts and learning materials on almost any Internet-enabled device, even when they are not connected to the Internet. Students who want a printed copy may print portions of their eText directly, or may order a print-on-demand version of the eText for a fee.

The fall 2012 pilot expands upon a more limited experiment involving the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Virginia, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a successful earlier effort at Indiana University. These initial efforts demonstrated the appeal of the new model — more than 100,000 online pages read, with almost none printed — with balanced reactions from students or instructors. Feedback also indicated that in addition to the substantial cost savings the approach represents, those involved appreciated the ability to digitally annotate content and share those annotations while using less paper.

“Our core mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology,” said Greg Jackson, vice president of Educause and former CIO and the University of Chicago. “This pilot will help us understand how the advent of appealing, affordable eTexts can enable fundamental changes in the relationships among students, instructors, campuses, and publishers, and thereby address a major obstacle to college affordability.”

“More and more universities are eager to explore new approaches to delivering content to students. These pilot programs offer an alternative to the legacy textbook model to which students and campuses are anxious to find alternatives as eTexts become mainstream,” said Shel Waggener, senior vice president of Internet2 and former CIO at UC Berkeley. “We continue to invite other publishers and e-reader platform providers to join our efforts to explore new models for improving the delivery and use of electronic content so that everyone benefits.”

“We’re in the midst of a digital transformation in higher education, as more and more institutions, instructors, and students recognize the power of technology in the classroom,” said Tom Malek, vice president of learning solutions and services for McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

The list of participants as of Sept. 4 includes:

• Baylor University
• California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
• Colorado State University
• Cornell University
• Dartmouth College
• Iowa State University of Science and Technology
• Madison Area Technical College
• Miami University
• Michigan State University
• Middlebury College
• Northern Kentucky University
• Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
• Stony Brook University
• University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
• University of Alaska
• University of California, Berkeley
• University of Hawaii
• University of Iowa
• University of Kentucky
• University of South Florida
• University of Virginia
• University of Wisconsin, Madison
• Vermont State Colleges
• Virginia Tech
• Wichita State University

Pilot leaders will speak about the eText pilot at the Fall 2012 Internet2 Member Meeting in October and the Educause 2012 Annual Conference in November.

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