The University of Hawaiʻi has joined 25 other higher education institutions that are testing new approaches to making electronic textbooks and other learning materials more affordable and useful to students.
Led by EDUCAUSE and Internet2, the national eText pilot project is designed to evaluate and understand new technologies and business models in the fast evolving migration from traditional textbooks to digital learning materials.
“We know the shift to electronic learning materials is coming, and participating in a national pilot is a fantastic way to begin to help our faculty, students and staff understand the opportunities and challenges so we can address them head-on with modern systems and approaches,” said David Lassner, UH System vice president for information technology and chief information officer, who is also the current chair of the EDUCAUSE Board of Directors.
UH Mānoa conducts first UH pilot tests
For the fall 2012 semester, the pilot is being conducted with 20 UH Mānoa course sections and 734 students in Engineering, History, Information & Computer Science, Microbiology, and Spanish.
UH Mānoa’s participation in the pilot project is jointly sponsored by UH Information Technology Services and the UH Mānoa Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. The UH Mānoa Libraries are leading the evaluation of UH faculty and student experience in the pilot.
The UH Bookstore is also engaged, as this model represents a significant change that may affect their operations.
“The cost of textbooks continues to increase and some students avoid buying textbooks altogether to save money,” said UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Reed Dasenbrock. “This pilot will begin to help us understand how to ensure that all our students have access to the content they need, when and how they need it, while reducing the cost of their education.”
Electronic materials and e-reader software replace paper textbooks
The pilot project replaces individual textbook purchases by students with site licenses negotiated and funded by campuses. It also substitutes paper textbooks owned by students with electronic materials licensed for use in specific classes with content accessed by students through the university’s Laulima learning management system.
In addition, it uses specialized e-reader software not associated with a specific publisher and content is viewable on any laptops, tablets and smartphones. The e-reader software enables students and instructors to access, highlight, and annotate their eTexts and learning materials on almost any Internet-enabled device—PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone—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 high-quality, print-on-demand version of the eText for a fee.
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 for students.
Plans are now underway for a more expansive national pilot in spring 2013, which will also involve more participants from the UH System.