The future of textbooks looks like this

Critical Considerations for Implementation

According to NACS, “every institution will need to consider a multidimensional and boundary-spanning learning content strategy if the transition to digital learning content and courseware is to proceed smoothly.

An all-campus plan is critical, states the report, as failure to do so could fragment the student experience as content varies from course to course, and as untested courseware and services are adopted and discarded. It’s also critical because, unmanaged, students may become frustrated with the gap between digital courseware’s capabilities and the faculty’s use (or non-use) of it.

Other key considerations include:

  • Shifting to digital/OER will also affect academic policy, technology, student privacy, pedagogy, instructional costs, course materials accessibility, incentives, revenue management, and more.
  • Developing an effective all-campus policy and strategy should begin as soon as possible and include all relevant campus stakeholders and service providers.
  • Carefully evaluating models for delivery of course materials, as well as formats.
  • Knowing copyright, fair use, and licensed content for compliance.
  • Knowing the implications for control of offerings, pricing, revenues, and service levels compared to the economies of scale and expanded options for students when using third-party solutions.
  • Understanding, and helping student’s understand their ability to use financial aid to purchase their course materials.

Seek Out the Campus Bookstore

ICBA and CCS’ survey reveals that 72 percent of faculty participants agree/strongly agree that the campus bookstore is a trustworthy and objective source for information about course materials; and 59 percent report that their campus bookstore can play an important role helping faculty select and effectively use digital curricular course materials.

That’s a sentiment strongly mirrored in the NACS report, which emphasizes that campus bookstores acting as an institutional aggregator can offer the “smartest and most effective student success support services [to] win hearts and minds.”

“As the course materials and retailing experts on campus, the professionals who manage the institution’s store should play a key role in making decisions about course materials and related services supporting student success in the future,” it states.

Moving forward, NACS believes that quality, large digital distributors are ones that harness their ability to scale to negotiate favorable pricing. Quality, small digital distributors will use customer, campus, and industry knowledge to better serve students; for example, by implementing a “concierge service (online or in-person) to guide students through the content options universe and match course materials to their profiles/needs.”

But this level of customization offered by smaller digital distributors should occur on campus, too, explains NACS, as an emerging student learning and success services market becomes essential for success.

“Campuses could create a one-stop physical and virtual environment [i.e. a campus bookstore] that aligns providers of instruction and services—library, dean of students, academic advising and related student services, residential life, tutoring, career counseling, and placement…this could be a differentiator for institutions in the future.”

For much more detailed information from the NACS report, read “Mapping the Learning Content Ecosystem: An inquiry into the disruption, evolution, and transformation of the learning content ecosystem.

For more detailed information from the ICBA and CCS report, read “Going Digital: Faculty Perspectives on Digital and OER Course Materials.

Read more about the evolution of the college bookstore here.

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