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U Cincinnati Chooses Electronic Text To Reduce Student Costs

Beginning this fall as many as 5,000 students taking an introductory psychology course at the University of Cincinnati (UC) will be able to access their textbook online for free.

Students will also be able to purchase a suite of electronic versions of the text, compatible with tablets, e-readers, netbooks, and smartphones, for $35, a black-and-white print version for $35, or a $70 color print version.

"Under this pilot project, we can now be certain that course content materials are available to the students, because price is no longer a factor," UC Associate Professor of Psychology Charles Ginn said. "Due to rapidly increasing costs, more and more students are deciding not to purchase assigned textbooks. At some community colleges and other institutions of higher education, some students even postpone the pursuit of their degrees because the cost of textbooks equals or exceeds the cost of tuition."

A selection committee led by Ginn and including representatives from university faculty, students, and student services chose Flat World Knowledge to provide the text, Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor. According to information released by the university, "The selection committee considered factors including value, adequacy of course content, customizable content for faculty, as well as content materials to support students with disabilities."

Michael Southern, director of UC Disability Services and member of the selection committee explained how the digital versions of the book can increase access for disabled students. "The standard print version of a textbook may not be useful for a student with a visual disability. But having the same text in e-book form allows the student to navigate via an iPad, laptop or other electronic device independently. Flat World has set the standard for others to aspire."

The electronic version of the book will also be available through the Ohio Digital Bookshelf Project, an initiative of the University System of Ohio (USO) that "that aims to provide quality textbook options for faculty and better learning outcomes, while also saving students money," according to information on the project's Web site. Through inclusion in the initiative, other OSU member institutions will also be able to choose the book for introductory psychology courses, which meet academic requirements for non-majors.

"UC's textbook selection process put student needs front and center, and created a level playing field for innovative models that addressed those needs," said Eric Frank, president of Flat World Knowledge. "Their decision to select Flat World sends a clear message that new approaches can solve a critical problem in the classroom--ensuring that high quality textbooks are accessible to everyone and available any way a student prefers to learn."

To ensure the price of the book, UC and Flat World Knowledge have signed a 4-year agreement.

More information about Flat World Knowledge is available at flatworldknowledge.com.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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