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5,300 IU students benefit from eTexts savings, Internet2 begins pilot

130 class sections encompassing 5,300 IU students are participating in IU's eTexts initiative this spring semester, taking advantage of IU's cost-saving deals with publishers. Those agreements provided students an average savings of $25 per book or online supplement, and total savings of nearly $100,000 when compared to similar offerings. Internet2 is also announcing pilot trials of IU's model.

130 class sections encompassing 5,300 IU students are participating in IU's eTexts initiative this spring semester, taking advantage of IU's cost-saving deals with publishers. Those agreements provided students an average savings of $25 per book or online supplement, and total savings of nearly $100,000 when compared to similar offerings.

IU's agreements with publishers and Indiana-based Courseload were first announced in September as part of the university's ongoing efforts to reduce the current cost of course materials and enhance the transition to digital for the future. eTexts provided through IU's eTexts initiative are available at roughly half the price of retail and offer more options for printing and long-term use.

"Like our software deals with Microsoft and Adobe, IU has long saved students money by using its size to negotiate very favorable terms," said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and CIO. "Students and parents are looking for relief from the high costs of textbooks, and IU is using the same negotiating approach for digital textbook options that have been so successful for software. We are pleased to partner with the publishers and an Indiana-based company in helping to solve the root causes of high textbook costs."

IU's eTexts initiative allows faculty to choose an eText under the university's model, upon which each student in their section is charged a reduced fee for access. Thanks to social learning features of the eTexts software, provided by Courseload, students can read, highlight, and annotate their eTexts -- as well as tag, search, collaborate, or view multimedia -- on any computer or mobile device for the entire time they are enrolled at IU.

IU's agreements also allow students to print their eTexts and purchase a print on demand version for a small fee if they desire a hard copy. Additionally, faculty have the ability to integrate notes, links, and annotations on students' eTexts and use Courseload to deliver freely available Open Educational Resources or faculty-authored materials as another means to reduce costs.

IUPUI Student IT Ambassador President Nick Von Ogden notes, "My favorite part about the eTexts initiative is the collaboration options. IU provides students and faculty a means to engage with each other virtually through use of eTexts, sharing annotations, important notes, and possible exam questions, while also cutting the costs substantially."

IU began pilot testing eTexts in 2009, and the option is now available to faculty on all IU campuses. The goal is to ensure that eText prices for every student are about the same or better than the net cost realized by the 40% to 50% of students who currently succeed in buying a used paper textbook and selling it back before a new edition is released. Faculty can begin signing up for eTexts for the summer and fall semesters in late January 2012.

Students throughout higher education are facing similar issues regarding costs for course materials in the transition to digital. Today, Internet2 is also announcing pilot trials of IU's model at Cornell University, the University of California Berkeley, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, and University of Virginia in conjunction with Courseload and McGraw-Hill. For details, see http://internet2.edu/news/pr/2012.01.18.etext-pilot.html.

For more on IU's eTexts initiative, frequently asked questions, and details on eTexts signups, visit http://etexts.iu.edu.