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March 9, 2012 > CSU to offer digital textbook rental program

CSU to offer digital textbook rental program

Submitted By Stephanie Thara

The California State University (CSU) recently announced partnerships with Cengage Learning, CourseSmart(r) and Follett that will provide more than 5,000 of the most popular eTextbooks at discounted prices as part of a system-wide digital textbook rental program.

"This program will ease the financial burden on students by providing access to quality online materials that are priced significantly lower than traditional textbooks," said Gerry Hanley, senior director of CSU Academic Technology Services and executive director of the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT). "Our exceptional partners in this collaboration share in the commitment to maintaining affordability for our students. We will continue to explore opportunities for lower-cost course materials that students need to reach their goal of a college degree."

Beginning in the fall, students will be have the choice to rent digital versions of texts - eTextbooks - at a cost savings of 60 percent or more compared with the cost of purchasing the same text as a new printed version. Students will have access to the digital material for the length of the academic term and also have the option to print out the material from the eTextbooks. They can be rented conveniently by CSU students through their campus bookstore supported by CengageBrain.com, CourseSmart.com and CafeScribe.com. eTextbooks and other digital materials will be available through laptops, desktops, tablets and various other devices, and can be accessed online or offline and include interactive capabilities such as note-taking and highlighting.

This spring the three partners will work with the CSU to market the discounted eTextbooks, and to provide professional development opportunities for faculty on the interactive capabilities of these services to help improve learning outcomes of students. Cengage Learning, CourseSmart and Follett have also committed to providing the CSU with plans for the continued improvement of the accessibility of their eReaders and eTextbooks.

The CSU's digital rental program is just one facet of the system's Affordable Learning Solutions initiative. Launched in 2010, Affordable Learning Solutions is guided by the three key principles of choice, affordability and accessibility to provide students with more affordable course materials while offering greater access to no-cost or low-cost academic content for faculty.

Under the initiative, the CSU has produced innovative business strategies and technologies that drive down the cost of learning resources for students while offering greater access to no- or low-cost academic content for faculty. In 2011-12, CSU saved students approximately $62 million by providing lower and no-cost print and digital alternatives to new textbooks and that figure is expected to increase to almost $118 million in savings for students through the shift of using digital alternatives to textbooks. For more information about the Affordable Learning Solutions initiative please visit http://als.csuprojects.org.

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