A university launches an eTextbook initiative to improve success


A university launches an eTextbook initiative to improve student success and decrease debt

Kentucky State University, Frankfort, Kentucky

“Kentucky State University (KSU) wants to be an institution that is looked upon as very 21st century and to be one that reduces the overall debt load of our students while giving them the opportunity to learn the information that they need to succeed,” Dr. Aaron Thompson, the interim president of KSU, stated.

“We are a population of opportunity, and many of our students are first-generation college students or come from modest economic backgrounds,” he added. “One of the items that we knew we needed to look at was textbook costs, which have been escalating. And we also wanted to make sure that the information that students need in textbooks is available on the very first day of class.”

So in the spring of 2016, KSU decided to address the issues of textbook accessibility and affordability by launching a campus-wide eTextbook initiative in the upcoming fall semester.

KSU campusTo implement the eTextbook initiative in such a short time frame, KSU partnered with Pearson, which publishes more than 30 percent of the printed textbooks that KSU faculty were using. Working together, the partners identified digital course materials from Pearson that covered the material taught in 85–90 percent of KSU’s undergraduate courses.

Starting this fall, KSU will purchase the eTextbooks for all of its students in the covered courses directly from Pearson. For the first year of the program, the university will invoice students for the cost of the digital course materials, but will give them a credit for the same amount in the form of a book scholarship.

Although the eTextbook initiative is just beginning, plans are underway to evaluate its success by conducting student and faculty surveys and tracking grades at the end of the semester.

The initial feedback from stakeholders on the eTextbook initiative has been positive. “In general, I think faculty are happy that it will provide students the materials they need at the beginning of the semester at a lower cost,” Professor Kimberly Sipes, assistant professor of accounting and faculty senate president, noted.

In Sipes’s experience, only one or two students out of twenty-five had their textbooks on the first day of class. She anticipates that having access to the eTextbooks before classes start will improve efficiency and effectiveness. “We have some night classes that meet for two-and-a-half hours,” Sipes explained. “I can now send the students an email the week before class starts that says: ‘Welcome to class—I’m happy to have you here. For the first class, you need to read chapter one because we are going to cover that material the first night.’ This way, I won’t lose class time, particularly in a once-a-week class.”

Dr. Candice Love Jackson, acting vice president for Academic Affairs, believes that providing students with access to digital course materials will improve student success and decrease debt rates. “If students are prepared for class, they begin the semester with a good foundation and are more successful than students who are not prepared,” she noted. “It also reduces the time it takes for students to earn a degree as well as their debt rates. Textbooks typically cost $1,000 a year; our efforts eliminate these costs.”

There have been times when my book charges were over $1,000 a semester. The eTextbook program is definitely a cost savings.

Ralph A. Williams II, Senior; President, Student Government Association; and Student Regent, Board of Regents

Students are also excited about the initiative. “I had a chance to talk with a group of nursing students the other day, and they were ecstatic,” Thompson said. “The cost of the initiative appealed to them, as did the ability to have the books immediately.”

To learn more about KSU’s eTextbook initiative, read the full success story.

Read the full success story

Digital Direct Access

Improving access and affordability with digital models

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