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Franklin U Expands Digital Textbook Project

A private, non-profit university in Ohio that caters to adult learners has expanded a digital textbook initiative to 15 courses and a thousand students during its winter 2017 term. Franklin University, which has five campuses in Ohio and Indiana and many online courses, hopes to eliminate physical textbooks entirely to reduce college cost for students.

The e-textbook initiative, as the institution refers to it, began in December 2015, when school leaders drew a committee together to examine course content. The goal of the endeavor was to embed learning resources into the curriculum to support learning outcomes. The committee was led by CIO Rick Sunderman.

A pilot ran during the fall 2016 term in four courses, then grew to 15 courses in the following term. The university hasn't necessarily moved to open educational resources. The approach is to integrate electronic textbooks directly into courses to improve convenience for students by billing the book charge at the time of registration and negotiating reduced costs with Barnes & Noble College and the publishers. During the first two weeks of class, students may also choose to opt out of the e-textbook program and get the books through their own suppliers, though it's highly discouraged the school. Two courses in the 15 have no textbooks at all.

Early results are promising. Students have reported to the committee that the embedded course materials are "easy to use and convenient," provide "quick access" for "study on the go" and make access to reading and note taking "very easy." "You don't have to pay for a book that you will have to carry around for six to 12 weeks," said one learner. "Your e-book is with you whenever your computer is with you."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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