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January 27, 2020 7:20 AM

eText program delivers benefits and savings

Since it was first piloted in 2016, Conestoga’s eText program has grown to involve more than 13,700 students spanning nearly 50 programs. The move to deliver digital resources is saving students money and giving them access to course materials anytime, anywhere.

“Etexts ensure students have what they need when they need it — with the goal always being the first day of class,” said Madeleine Wendland, manager, course material services. “And the savings are significant. Etexts cost about 35 per cent less than traditional textbooks. We estimate that between fall 2018 and fall 2019, students enrolled in eText programs saved approximately $1.4 million in textbook fees compared to the cost of physical resources.”

Wendland works closely with schools within the college to identify programs that would be suited to eText delivery and provides both faculty and student support to ensure successful implementation. Surveys indicate the move to digital texts is well supported by students, but also helps identify areas where Wendland can offer support.

“eTexts are delivered through any device a student may use — desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone — on the Texidium platform which offers several useful features,” explained Wendland. “Some students believe they lose the ability to highlight text with a digital resource, but eText users can make notes, highlight text, bookmark pages, print passages and jump to a specific page or chapter with ease. Accessibility functions also provide adjustable text size and a read aloud function.”

Wendland also pointed out that students permanently own the edition of the digital texts they use in their coursework — it’s theirs to use and access whenever they want to in the future. Faculty find delivery of digital texts helpful as well given that students are ready to access their course materials on the first day of class. The other benefit is that each student has their own copy and is working from a current edition.

Last year, Conestoga delivered more than 260 unique textbook titles through the program, but numbers are expected to grow. Starting fall 2020, nearly 70 programs will adopt eText delivery. The program is heavily used in the School of Business, some programs at the Brantford campus have adopted eTexts and all programs at Conestoga’s new campus in downtown Kitchener are also using eText delivery.

“The key for us is cost and access,” said Wendland. “We want to ensure students have the resources they need to be successful and we want to save them money where possible. I work closely with the Library as well to see what open educational resources may be available. Those resources are free, so it results in even more cost savings for students. Having said that, there may still be programs where a traditional textbook still makes sense. We work with each program area to find the best solution.”

Programs that use eText delivery integrate the cost of the digital resources into the student registration fees charged at the beginning of each term, giving students immediate access to their texts.

For more information, visit eTexts at Conestoga.

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