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MAKING COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE. The eText program is one part of IU's overall effort to reduce the total cost of attendance while also improving education in the digital age.

Indiana University’s eText program saves students over $3.5 million

Program makes digital textbooks cost less and do more, grows 56 percent

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—The latest numbers are in: Indiana University’s eText program continues to save students millions of dollars every year, while delivering course materials straight to their digital devices before the first day of class.

In academic year 2016-17, IU students saved an estimated $3.5 million over what they would have otherwise spent on traditional textbooks.  

Over 40,000 IU students used at least one eText from IU’s direct partnerships with publishers for digital course materials. This is part of IU’s overall efforts to reduce the total cost of attendance while also improving education in the digital age.

eTexts help each student—and the whole class—get the most out of teaching and learning.

Nancy Evans, professor, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Professor Nancy Evans, who teaches computer information technology at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus, is an early adopter of eTexts and a fan.

“What I love about eTexts is that my students have the textbook on day one,” said Evans, who’s been teaching at IUPUI since 2001. “I do a lot of active learning in my courses, and if you don’t have the textbook you can’t really participate. eTexts help each student—and the whole class—get the most out of teaching and learning.”

Day One Access
Day One Access

The IU eText program delivers course materials straight to students' digital devices before the first day of class.

Evans still teaches some courses with traditional textbooks, and she said some students are without the textbook three or four weeks into class. “I’m astounded that that’s a frequent issue,” she said. “In addition to the easy availability of digital materials, I like the cost benefit for students and the fact that eTexts are theirs for as long as they’re an IU student.”

Unlike paper textbooks, with eTexts students can highlight, add notes and collaborate with their classmates and instructors through software integrated with IU's educational systems, and students can use the same software no matter which publisher produced the eText. Students can print their eTexts to any printer and have continued access to their materials for as long as they’re enrolled at IU. When selecting materials for their courses, IU faculty can choose among 88,000 titles from more than 25 publishers.

“Digital textbooks and course materials should cost less and do more for learning,” said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for IT and Kelley School of Business professor. “We see that happening in IU’s rapidly growing eText program as it is growing 50% year-over-year in 2,600 course sections. We are pleased to see many universities also adopting the Day One Access model that parallels what IU first piloted in 2009. It is an economically sound way to address the spiraling costs of textbooks.”

Beyond savings and Day One Access, IU students are making extensive use of the digital study tools as illustrated by over 100,000 student and faculty annotations in March alone. Digital materials can provide aggregated analytics that help faculty improve how they help students learn. IU’s preliminary analysis of the data shows that students who used at least one of the annotation features read more of their textbook than those who did not use any annotation features.

IU eTexts are powered by the Unizin Engage e-reading platform, which integrates with IU’s Canvas learning management system to provide secure access to course materials via any device.