Tag Archives: Colleges and Universities

Illinois Rep. introduces bill to reduce textbook costs

26 Apr

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11) wants to help make higher education more affordable and accessible for students by reducing college textbook costs.

“Skyrocketing textbook costs, along with the high costs of tuition, room and board, create a financial barrier that has become increasingly difficult for students to overcome,” Foster said in a news release. “By making high quality educational materials freely accessible to the general public, students would save money on textbooks.” 

The open source materials would be made available for free on a website, where they could be downloaded and shared by the public.

The congressman on Tuesday introduced a bill, the Learning Opportunities With Creation of Open Source Textbooks (Low Cost) Act, H.R. 4455, with the goal of providing more opportunities for students to downloaded free open-source educational content to their computers. Under the measure, open-source textbooks covering the subjects of physics, chemistry and calculus would be created as part of a pilot program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The legislation seeks to set up a “Federal Open Source Material Website” where the free educational materials would be made available for download. According to a statement from the congressman’s office, the Low Cost Act would also “require federal agencies that spend a significant amount of money on scientific education and outreach to use some of those funds collaborating with NSF.”

Foster noted that during the 2013-2014 school year, students spent an average of $1,207 to $1,270 on college books and supplies, according to a College Board estimate. Foster said the availability of free textbooks could reduce the amount of debt accumulated from four years of college by as much as $5,000.

The LOW COST Act is part of a larger initiative launched by Foster called Project Growth. Aimed at job creation and economic development in his district, it focuses on the issues of education, transportation, manufacturing and strengthening the middle class, in order to encourage further growth.  

The Benefits of Digital Textbooks in Learning

28 Mar

Textbooks are must-buy items for college students, and the money spent on textbooks can cost up to several hundred dollars in a single semester. Moreover, the higher the grade level, the heavier the books seem to get. With the growing concerns around traditional textbooks, there are many innovative alternatives for college students. One of the major alternatives in college education is the availability of digital textbooks. Let’s look at the benefits of digital textbooks in more detail:

  • Digital Textbooks are Cost-Saving: Digital textbooks are one of the major options to circumvent the soaring costs of textbooks. Digital textbooks are usually available for a lower price since they do not require printing, packaging and distributing to various channels. The skyrocketing costs of textbooks potentially leave students with limited money for other education-related expenses. Therefore, the significant cost-saving potential of digital textbooks cannot be ignored.
  • Digital Textbooks Improve Learning Effectiveness: Beyond price, digital textbooks also improve students’ ease and effectiveness of learning. For example, students can study with digital textbooks through any device, anywhere, anytime. Students can also easily take notes or highlight main points in the text without additional tools. The advanced features of digital textbooks allow college students to study more effectively than traditional textbooks.
  • Digital Textbooks Prepare Students for a Globally Competitive Marketplace: As a college student, remaining competitive and marketable depends a lot on taking advantage of digital tools. The world has become more complex and technology-driven in this digital era, and students need to prepare themselves better in order to stay competitive in a global marketplace by strengthening their digital knowledge and skills. The switch to digital needs to happen as soon as it can. Higher education is all about the free flow of information and ideas, so college students should equip themselves with cutting-edge educational technologies as well as innovative learning approaches to set themselves apart.
  • Digital Textbooks are Eco-Friendly: Digital textbooks are paperless and save trees because they do not require printing. Digital textbooks can actually help our planet by allowing students to study through digital devices instead of buying printed textbooks. Eco-friendliness can be added to the list of benefits when it comes to buying digital textbooks.

Digital textbooks give college students a chance to learn more effectively while allowing them to spend less than they would on a traditional printed textbook. By meeting students’ wants and needs, digital textbooks are a greener and more effective option that facilitates a richer learning experience.

Lynn L. is a recent college graduate living in the Chicago area. She writes on behalf of Skyo, an online site that helps college students save money with cheap textbooks and flexible rental options. Visit Skyo to learn more about how to buy textbooks online.

Students Still Not Yet Ready for Digital Textbooks

19 Jun

While publishers are increasingly creating and selling digital materials and students increasingly have the devices on which to consume that content, only 3% of students last semester used a digital textbook as their primary course material (for a specific course). That’s down from 4% for the fall semester.

Overwhelmingly, students prefer print, according to the survey of 1,540 undergraduate college students at both four-year and two-year institutions of higher education.

When asked why, about half “prefer the look and feel of print;” nearly half say they like to highlight and take notes in the textbooks; and a third cite that they can’t re-sell digital textbooks.

Among those few students who prefer digital textbooks to print, the reasons are the price, the ability to search the text and how easy they are to carry around.

According to U.S. director of Bowker Market Research, Carl Kulo, who developed the research, price and benefit to the student are the main factors that influence students to try and use new and different course materials. Read more on the digital textbook Bowker Market Research

Indiana State University compares Paper vs iPad Textbooks

10 May

Research by an Indiana State University doctoral student found that students did equally well on a test whether reading from a digital book or a printed one.

Jim Johnson, who also is director of instructional and information technology services in the Bayh College of Education, surveyed more than 200 students. Half of the students used an iPad2 to read a textbook chapter while the other half of the students read from a printed textbook chapter. The students then took an open-book quiz with eight easy and eight moderate questions on the chapter.

“Few people have done a lot of research into what I’m doing,” Johnson said. “Mine directly ties performance with perception by undergraduates.”

Johnson’s research specifically examined three questions: Are there any significant differences in reading comprehension test scores of students when using paper texts versus digital texts? Are there any differences in reading comprehension test scores with regard to gender or between text formats and gender? Is there a relationship between the hours of experience using tablet computers and reading comprehension test scores among study participants?

“No matter what the format, no matter what the preference, they did well,” he said. “It was interesting that the gender didn’t matter on the test scores.”

Men had a mean score of 12.87 out of 16 while women had an average score of 13.60 out of 16. Students age 21 had an average score of 13.87 out of 16 while students 25 and older had an average score of 13.5 out of 16.

He also found that there was no significant difference on test scores whether or not the participant had past experience on a tablet.

“The delivery method didn’t make any difference,” he said.

Read More

Textbook Savings Ideas

20 Aug

Savings ideas for textbooks

Used books.  Some scholars still require the physical feel of a book with pages in their hands. Before you purchase new, figure out if you can obtain a second user copy.

The library.  Most university libraries have 1 or 2 copies of favored varsity textbooks.  See if you can obtain one for the semester, or if it is held on reserve, drop by the library when you’ve got to read a chapter.

Share. If you happen to have a mate taking the same class, share the book, and work out a study schedule.

Sell your books back. You are not going to become wealthy at the end of the semester, but reselling them beats just letting the books collect dust on your book shelf if you do not think you will ever use them again.  Try selling to your campus book shop, posting notices in buildings or selling thru your own web market on a credible internet site.

Opensource.  A comparatively new idea, open textbooks permit scholars to pick how they read, whether or not it’s a digital copy freely a file they print themselves, or a paid print copy.