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Cerritos College Experiments with Custom Textbooks

A community college in Southern California will begin introducing custom textbooks into its courses in a partnership with media company Pearson. Under the arrangement, instructors in Cerritos College's Humanities and Social Sciences division will have the option starting with the spring 2011 semester to create a print-only customized text or a digital version. The custom textbooks can include materials from multiple resources--both print- and open source-based--as well as content written by instructors such as introductory letters, information about academic clubs for that discipline area, course descriptions, and other elements.

Faculty had sought a way to reduce textbook expense for its 23,000 students and to provide additional curriculum. The program also gives students and faculty access to Pearson's MyLabs online services, which include homework, tutorials, and assessments. Currently, according to the company, an American Government class is doing a pilot test of the technology components.

"Cerritos College is dedicated to providing our students and faculty with the most cost-efficient and comprehensive learning tools available," said Bryan Reece, dean of academic success and institutional effectiveness. Pearson was chosen, he added, because, "they offer the most sophisticated technology in regards to textbooks in the industry; they will seamlessly integrate with our learning management system; and they provide unparalleled service and support."

Pearson said it's giving the college a bulk deal based on how many students use them. The projected savings is up to 40 percent, though the actual savings will depend on how many professors and students participate in the program.

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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