Step 1: Train faculty; make sure they use the tech.

According to an analysis by MindShift of Internet2’s report, one of the main reasons students did not heartily adopt eTextbooks was because faculty didn’t make use of the myriad functionalities. Chegg also confirms this fact, and reveals in a recent survey that, “can’t use during open book tests”, “professor won’t allow it”, and “some teachers ban computers in class,” are some of the main reasons why students don’t use eTextbooks.

“The functions that make eBooks more attractive to students than print books weren’t being fully maximized by faculty,” wrote MindShift. “Features like annotating texts, collaboration tools and the ability to share notes with other students weren’t being used or modeled by the professors. And if educators used the eBooks like a print textbook, that’s what students did as well.”

Faculty agreed that they did not often use the features available and wanted further training.

Step 2. Let faculty know eBooks can also mean self-publishing.

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Anne Marie Knott, a professor of strategy at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, said that “Faculty should be all over digital textbooks!”

Going through publishers, Knott said faculty on average make 15 percent of wholesale (which is 75 percent of retail), so for a $100 book they would make $11.25. If they self-publish, they can get 75 percent of retail ($75).

The Washington University professor also explained that publishers, while keeping a much larger share of the revenue, don’t necessarily do a better job of designing, editing and marketing their books. (Knott’s reasoning can be found in the full article.)

“My guess is faculty will catch on, the way musicians did. The advantage we have over musicians is we actually know our customers!—we hang out with them at conferences.” Knott wrote.

Step 3: Make buying the eBook mandatory for all.

According to Tom Malek, vice president of Learning Solutions for McGraw-Hill Higher Education in a correspondence with Forbes, making eTextbook purchase mandatory for all students in a course lowers the cost drastically.

According to Chegg’s survey, 38 percent of students “wait to buy their books until they know they need them,” which increases to 45 percent for seniors.

“What we’ve recently found is that by working with schools to ensure 100 percent class participation in an eBook purchase – that is, making sure that all students in a particular course buy the book selected by the professor or school for that course – publishers can afford to offer eBooks at a dramatic discount.”

Under this model, explained Malek, students enrolled in participating classes are automatically billed for the eBooks through their bursar accounts; however, to make sure that only students who stick with a course are charged for the eBook, billing is not applied until after the add/drop period ends. McGraw-Hill has developed pilots using this model with schools like the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, the Indiana University and many others.

According to Malek, both students and faculty are happy with the arrangement, thanks to lower costs for students, and faculty ease at knowing every student has access to materials.

Step 4: Consider partnering with a publisher.

By encouraging your campus bookstore to partner with an educational publisher, colleges and publishers are often able to facilitate the type of bulk eBook purchase that can lower prices for students, said Malek.

Step 5: Kill two birds…

By incorporating assessment and other advanced tools, like adaptive technology (which can integrate directly with eBooks), more and more colleges and universities are insisting that they be included in any large-scale purchasing deal, revealed Malek.

The insistence is plausible, since eBooks are delivered through online platforms that house all of the course materials that a student needs for class (syllabus, assignments, grades, study tools). Effectiveness studies from McGraw-Hill have shown that these programs tend to increase student performance across a number of areas, including grades, test scores and readiness for class.

“The ability of education companies to offer these technologies, which help professors personalize the learning experience and drive student achievement, along with eBooks at a price that’s still affordable to students, is another critical part of this new model,” wrote Malek.


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