The Indiana University eText Experience: Getting Started
David W. Lewis, IU Assistant Vice President for Digital Scholarly Communication and Dean of the IUPUI University Library
In this section, we describe key aspects of the IU eTexts program and the importance of each of these aspects.
- The university negotiates contracts with publishers. These contracts allow the university to provide student access to digital textbooks and related content at significantly reduce prices. The university pays the publisher for every student enrolled in a course section that uses an eText.
- The university maintains a catalog of textbooks and other content that is available via the eText program.
- Faculty can opt to select an eText for their course or ignore the program (it is an additional option for them). This is done sufficiently in advance that students know a course they are registering for is using an eText, and they will therefore be charged a course fee to cover the cost. They can thus take the known course materials cost into account as they plan their class schedule.
- Publishers provide texts in a format that is compatible with the university’s eText reader/annotation software platform. While most of the content in the eText program is produced by publishers, faculty-produced items or open content can be included as well.
- The content provided by the publishers or from other sources is uploaded to the eText platform. IU uses the Engage platform that is part of the Unizin suite of services. This system provides standard features for annotating texts and sharing annotations, works on a wide range of electronic devices, and addresses accessibility issues. There are other options available such as the one provided by Red Shelf (see: about.redshelf.com).
- The Bursar’s Office manages eText charges and the resulting payments to publishers. Their system accommodates drop/add and other similar issues. For example, they have accounted for federal rules requiring that students who receive federal aid have the option to opt out of the eText program. (IU gives all students the option.)
- The eText is available on the first day of class (often weeks before) and students have access to the content for as long as they are students at IU. Students can also print selections from the eText or order full printed copies of the text for the cost of printing.
- The eText program is described to students registered with disability services in their intake interviews. Students are informed about how IU eTexts are accommodated and how to get training and support for using the IU eTexts platform with their assistive technologies. See [suggested] section 1-J for more details on the accessibility and accommodations of the IU eText program.
- Faculty and students can highlight and annotate the text and share these highlights and annotations with the whole class or subgroups. IU research has shown that faculty annotations are a particularly powerful way to engage students with the text.
- The platform captures usage data for analyzing how students interact with the platform and how that interaction impacts their academic performance.
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