Acquisition of new software will increase college affordability through broader access to eTextbooks and digital course materials
Leveraging its recent partnership in the education technology consortium Unizin, The Ohio State University is expanding its digital learning platform with new software that will reduce the overall cost of teaching material and enhance teaching and learning. This project reflects Ohio State’s comprehensive strategy to attack college costs, which includes initiatives that have a direct impact on students’ bills, efficiencies, innovative funding and streamlining students’ academic paths.
Unizin recently acquired the Courseload software and trademark, an industry-leading platform for delivering textbooks and other educational resources in digital form. The software will provide added support to faculty who prefer digital course material either as a primary or supplementary class resource.
According to a recent study by the National Association of College Stores, average annual spending by students on required course materials dropped from $701 in 2007 to $563 in 2015. The potential for total savings could average $128 per course for traditional, introductory-level textbooks replaced with online versions, according to the Student Public Interest Research Groups.
Ohio State, a member of the Open Textbook Library network, is continuing to seek resources that enhance learning outcomes and reduce the financial burden on students, said Mike Hofherr, vice president and chief information officer.
“Courseload brings another great resource to our faculty and students, and is an example of how we are working toward President Drake’s 2020 Vision for Ohio State,” said Hofherr. “With the rising cost of higher education across the country and an ever more mobile student population, we are always looking for technology that can increase both access and affordability. Courseload does both while also providing new tools for collaboration and analytics. We are very excited.”
Courseload’s platform features an eText reader and includes Engage, an online learning and collaboration tool that can digitize textbooks and other educational resources. Instructors can supplement traditional course materials with low-cost alternatives such as open educational resources and faculty-generated content. Key product features include the ability to highlight, annotate, bookmark and search digital texts, as well as consolidate and share study notes.
Ohio State was one of several major research universities to join the consortium in December 2014. Courseload is the first acquisition of Unizin as part of its roadmap focused on a commitment to improving learner success with a more seamless and user-friendly digital ecosystem, allowing faculty to focus on providing the best education to students. Ohio State is working closely with Unizin on the timeline for implementation.
Unizin continues to grow its membership, recently adding the State University System of Florida. The new addition brings the consortium to 21 higher education institutions and nearly doubles the organization’s current student scope.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Robin Littleworth, chief operating officer at Unizin. “By acquiring Courseload and welcoming several of its talented employees to Unizin, we will provide one of the best-in-class eText platforms in the world to our members.”
The Unizin consortium operates as a university-owned and directed 501(c)3 nonprofit providing standards-based digital learning and teaching infrastructure for its members. Unizin consists of 11 founding members and 22 higher education institutions. The Unizin consortium provides a common technological platform delivered by Internet2. Unizin is headquartered in Austin, Texas. For more on Unizin, see www.unizin.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courseload is the leading device- and content source-neutral aggregator and distributor of eTexts and digital course materials. Courseload’s approach eliminates the barriers that have impeded the print-to-digital evolution in academia while providing deep cost reductions to students and institutions and improving academic outcomes. Courseload stores materials in one central location, which enables students to learn and collaborate more successfully, provides faculty with tools and analytics that support teaching, and protects content owners from piracy and eroding revenue streams.