Are we finally coming to that oft predicted outcome of the digital age? That physical books will be no more?
I think so.
My school recently launched a program that will move course materials for specific classes online to be made readable in eText format.
But this is nothing new, schools and publishers have been putting textbooks online for years now. What is new and revolutionary is that the school has negotiated a deal with a number of eText publishers that will reduce the cost of the different texts by 60 to 70 percent.
With the cost of textbooks being as high as they are these days, this might finally be the spark the eText industry has been looking for to get people away from their hard-copy books.
The cost for these eTexts will be levied within the tuition bill, and the texts automatically uploaded to my school's online course management system, Oncourse.
My school has also partnered with a company that has built a software program that will be used to read and engage the texts. According to CampusTechnology.com, the software will:
... allow students to tag the digital content, perform searches, collaborate as a study group, and view multimedia on any computer or mobile device. Additionally, faculty who opt to use the software will have the ability to integrate notes, links, and annotations on students' e-texts.
Here are my thoughts about the new program:
I believe programs such as these are the wave of the future. Including electronic texts within the cost of tuition seems like a move more universities are going to make for both financial and academic reasons.
Plus, these relationships are mutually beneficial because universities will be able to ensure that their students have the texts on the first day of class and receive them for a great price, and publishers will generate more sales through the resulting decline in demand for used books. Perhaps this will even mean less "new editions."
My only gripe with the program is that the eTexts cannot be read on readers such as the Kindle and Nook, which are more convenient to use than computers and iPads. But the reason why is obvious: the software program, Courseload, and its features are not compatible with such products.
What do you guys think? Do you think this type of model is the way of the future for colleges and universities? Colleges and universities have developed similar models with companies like Adobe and Microsoft and have found great success. Why not with book publishers as well?