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Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne Expanding Use of Pre-Paid Course Material Plan

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne said it was expanding a digital textbook test program being delivered by the company that operates its campus bookstore. The Indiana institution is working with Follett to give students a way to access course material in both print and digital formats by paying a single discounted fee at the time of registration. Follett's program, called "includED," grew from 40 students in two course sections a year ago to 3,800 students in the most recent semester. In fall 2013 the initiative is expected to grow to 5,200 students. The entire school has about 14,000 students.

includED, formally launched by the company in January, is intended to address "the barriers that have prevented many schools from offering course materials with tuition," said Tom Christopher, president of the Follett Higher Education Group. Specifically, by bundling a discounted course material purchase into registration fees, students are encouraged to start class with curriculum in hand. The program is structured to be deployed on a campus within a single course, within a course section, across a department, or across the entire institution.

At the Fort Wayne university includED has been implemented in a variety of courses, including language, social sciences, math and applied science classes. According to a statement from the vendor, participating students paid on average 40 to 60 percent less than the price of a new textbook. In one calculus course students saved nearly 70 percent when compared to the price of a new textbook previously used in the course.

"Follett's includED program helps students save money and improves access to digital course materials," said Samantha Birk, associate director for instructional technologies. "Follett worked with us to identify the best strategic solutions and helped us make the most of our investments in digital technologies."

Also, because there are no limits to the instructional material that can be chosen by instructors, the program has gained pick-up among faculty. "includED gained traction through word-of-mouth, first in departments, and then faculty-wide," said Josh Gerow, a member of the department of psychology. "Faculty wanted to be a part of the program because it ensures students are prepared with the required materials, making instruction more effective." He added, "The joy of this program is I know that on day one of class everyone has a book and it's the correct book."

includED has also been tested at Follett-operated bookstores at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana as well as at Delaware high school St. Mark's in Wilmington.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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