Colleges experiment with bulk purchasing of digital textbooks

Five colleges across the country are testing bulk purchasing of digital textbooks in an attempt to save students money on course materials, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The universities participating in the project are Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, the University of Virginia, and the University of Wisconsin. Under the new plans, students would pay a flat fee for access to the digital course materials, which could be substantially lower than having to pay for individual print publications.

As well as potentially saving students money, the move could also offer students access to more engaging course materials. Instead of just text and images, digital textbooks can include video, audio and interactive elements to help students grasp complex subjects like science.

"The question is, 'What model is most likely to be scalable, serve the students' and the institutions' and the publishers' interests?'" David Lambert, president of the initative's publishing partner Internet2, told the news source.

According to Inside Higher Ed, a similar pilot program operated by Indiana University found that 68 percent of students using digital textbooks preferred them to print publications.

What do you think of digital course materials? Would you consider filling out a college application to a school that used them exclusively?

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