Faculty and students reap the benefits of etextbooks Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Faculty and students reap the benefits of etextbooks


University increases access and affordability of course materials through an opt-in digital delivery program

In the fall of 2012, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) surveyed its students and faculty about required course materials. Thirty-six percent of students reported that they had not purchased the required course materials at least once and forty-two percent waited one or more weeks after the start of a class to purchase the required materials, thus confirming faculty observations that students were not prepared to start learning on the first day of class.

Based on the survey data, the time seemed right for IPFW to implement a digital delivery program which guaranteed that all students in a course would have access to the materials on the first day of class and gave the university the opportunity to obtain volume discounts on course materials from its publishers.

IPFW decided to include both etextbooks and adaptive online learning tools like Pearson’s MyLab™ & Mastering™ programs, which many departments used in conjunction with textbooks, in the digital delivery program. The university selected Follett’s IncludED® program as the delivery platform and began analyzing its workflow process to determine how to include the required digital course materials fees in students’ tuition payments.

Samantha Birk, associate director for instructional technology, coordinated a lengthy planning process that brought together departments from across the university. She explained, “What we wanted to do was architect the workflow that we could put in place that would parallel what faculty do with traditional course materials and textbooks so that we weren’t necessarily implementing or presenting to them something that was completely new.”

Under the new workflow process, when faculty members submit requests for course materials to the bookstore, they also indicate if they want to participate in the digital delivery program. That information is sent to the Registrar’s Office, which tags students registered for courses and sections participating in the digital delivery program. The Bursar’s Office uses the tags to charge students the appropriate course materials fees.

To address concerns that not every student could afford a digital device and that some students prefer printed materials because they like the experience of physically turning pages, want to keep books for future reference, or get headaches from reading on screens, IPFW decided to allow faculty to opt in to the digital program. It also provides low or no cost (depending on the publisher) printed versions of the books.

IPFW’s digital delivery program has grown to include 19 subject disciplines and 216 sections in the fall of 2014. Participating faculty are pleased with the increased access. Kevin Stoller, coordinator of Basic Course, Department of Communications, explained, “The biggest advantage is that students have the textbook. It’s available the first day of class, and you don’t have students not buying the book. It is there. And so you know that from day one.” Participating students are also happy with the program. In his fall course evaluations, 80 percent of Stoller’s students said they would recommend continuing to use etextbooks.


Digital delivery has fulfilled our goals: getting students involved in the course—ready to do work on day one—and keeping the cost of the textbook and access code down.

Deana Alexander, Continuing Lecture & Pre-Calculus Committee Member, Mathematical Sciences

IFPW has also seen cost savings in course materials for students under the new digital delivery model. The university did a cost analysis across participating courses, comparing the cost of purchasing a new textbook and access code for online learning tools to the cost of an etextbook plus the access code. For its Biology 11700 course, which uses Pearson’s Principles of Ecology and Evolution textbook and MasteringBiology® online learning program, students accessing the textbook digitally saved 39 percent.

Cost Comparison of Principles of Ecology and Evolution and MasteringBiology Access Code

Transitioning to digital delivery has been a challenge, but IPFW has developed the support and triage systems necessary to affect change and reap the benefits of increased access and affordability.

To learn more about Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne’s digital delivery program, read the full success story.

Read the full success story


Engage students with immersive content, tools, and experiences
MyLab & Mastering

MyLab & Mastering is the world’s leading collection of online homework, tutorial, and assessment products designed with a single purpose in mind: to improve the results of all higher education students, one student at a time.
Learn more about MyLab & Mastering