The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 23, 2013

Calhoun to pilot use of e-books this fall in selected classes


For The News Courier

— Students attending Calhoun Community College this fall may see a major change in selected classes.  Starting with the 2013 fall semester, Calhoun will pilot the use of e-books (electronic textbooks) in selected courses.  The move will make the college the first two-year college in Alabama to approach the use of e-books on an institutional level.

“We have discussed making the move to e-books for some time now,” said Calhoun President Marilyn Beck. “There are a number of motivating factors which have influenced our decision to move forward with this pilot use of eBooks this fall. Among our primary reasons are lower textbook cost options for our students, more convenience for our distance education students, and student demand and expectation based on the growing number of new students coming to us having used electronic textbooks in high school.” 

Cost savings for the pilot courses range from a low of $6 per book to a high of $131.50 per book. The average savings is $32.27 with an average percent savings of 18.48 percent.

The e-book pilot will include 28 sections spread across nine different courses in the areas of biology, business, history, psychology and speech.  This list joins Calhoun courses in EMS and Nursing, which have already used electronic textbooks for several semesters.

“We will be the first two-year college in our system to incorporate the use of electronic textbooks from an institutional perspective, and depending on instructor and student feedback, our plan moving forward is to greatly expand this effort during the coming academic year and spread the savings and advantages across our curriculum,” Beck said.

Students who have already registered for these courses will receive information from the college providing instructions on how to access the electronic textbooks. All students already registered or registering for the classes will be expected to have available some form of electronic reader (iPad, laptop, Kindle, etc.) to access the books, but the college will, of course, work with those students who cannot access course materials. 

According to Calhoun’s Dean for Math and Sciences Jimmy Duke, who has coordinated much of the effort in the college’s move to e-books, half of the pilot sections will use Vital Source as the digital provider, which will allow the e-book to be loaded into Blackboard course shells prior to the first day of class. As soon as the course shell is open to students they will have immediate access to course materials, can download course content onto select devices, and avoid having to be connected to the internet to read course assignments. 

Vital Source is the most used e-book platform in higher education and allows instructors to highlight specific sections of the e-book or attach additional notes to pages for student use. 

With the move to e-books, Calhoun joins a growing number of colleges and universities across the nation to do the same.  The Mississippi Community College System currently has a major digital initiative underway, with five of their 15 institutions now primarily digital. 

For more information on Calhoun’s e-books transition, including a list of the courses included in the pilot, visit the college’s website at http://www.calhoun.edu.