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ETS launches e-text pilot

eTextbooks

This Fall, ETS is leading UC Berkeley’s participation in an e-text pilot whose principal goal is to explore a new business model for providing students access to e-textbooks. Jointly sponsored by Educause and Internet 2, the pilot was conducted at a handful of colleges and university last semester, and is starting up again at schools across the country. Like many of the participating institutions, UC Berkeley seeks to learn not only about what might make a new business model work but also whether the use of e-texts and other forms of electronic content affect the teaching and learning process.

Who’s participating and what does participation mean?

Eleven faculty from seven departments/programs have signed on to participate in the pilot this Fall. The list of departments follows:

  • Business (Haas UGBA)
  • College Writing
  • Engineering
  • EWMBA (Haas)
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics

 The pilot is being supported by ETS Instructional Designer, Sage Adams (sage@media.berkeley.edu).

Participation means free access to McGraw-Hill electronic textbooks. The e-texts are made available through an e-reader platform called Courseload, which runs in a web browser. For Berkeley instructors and students, the e-reader has been integrated with bSpace so students can access their texts from the course sites of participating classes.  

Understanding student usage and pedagogical value

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education described students’ experiences in using e-texts during the smaller pilot last semester. Like our peers, Berkeley has a lot to learn from our pilot this Fall. A cross-functional E-content working group (with representatives from ETS, the Library, L&S, Haas, Student Services, the Bookstore, and Legal) whose charge is to help orchestrate the campus' explorations into e-content initiatives, has developed a list of  questions to ask of this pilot and its participants:

  • For faculty, which features of the platform are most useful from a pedagogical perspective? Which features did you use most/least?
  • For students, which features were most helpful to you in the e-text? Did you find this text more or less accessible, valuable to you as a learner than a standard textbook? Can we evaluate impact of etext usage on learning?
  • Are their certain disciplines where etexts are better suited?
    What are the IP/copyright issues to be aware of? How can/should/should not material be shared?

UC Berkeley’s participation in the larger pilot this Fall will contribute additional data to knowledge about how this form of content can best serve students and faculty alike.

For more information about this pilot or other e-content initiatives underway on our campus, contact Lisa Rothrauff (lisa@media.berkeley.edu).

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