More course texts offered electronically

Up to 10 classes are using McGraw-Hill texts to test out the program.

Jenna Wilcox

The University of Minnesota is taking part in a new program to provide course materials in an electronic format that could lead to reduced textbook prices for students in the future.

According to the program website, the pilot is led by Internet2, a higher education research network that will allow participating universities to pool their buying power and negotiate discounted prices from textbook companies. McGraw-Hill  is the only textbook provider currently involved in the project.

Indiana University began researching student eText use in 2009 in an effort to reduce the cost of textbooks for students.  The others schools participating in the program include the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern University, the University of Virginia and Cornell University.

The pilot program begins this semester at the University and will include nine courses that reach 713 students.  The classes chosen were picked based on a variety of factors, including class size, interest in the program and the compatibility of the classâÄôs materials with an electronic format.

Students will be able to download the books for free using eReader software called Courseload  and access the books from any device with a web browser. The online course materials will also be compatible with Moodle and other web-based classroom pages.

There is also an option for students to pay an average of $25 if they want a printed textbook in addition to electronic versions.

In the future, students might pay a course materials fee to the University but likely at a cheaper price than the cost of print textbooks.

The Academic Affairs office authorized and paid for the $20,000 participation fee. Departments who are participating in the pilot wonâÄôt be charged.