"We got it going in the right direction," said Rand Spiwak, CEO of eText Consult and Daytona State's recently retired CFO, who led the school's e-text project.
"But we had to adjust our expectations and assumptions considerably."
Spiwak partnered with John Ittelson, professor emeritus at California State University, Monterey Bay, and director of communication, collaboration, and outreach for the California Virtual Campus, to share their experiences implementing e-textbook programs with attendees at the annual Campus Technology 2011 conference in Boston last week.
Before starting his
own consulting practice, Spiwak
spearheaded the Daytona's e-text Project, which set out to replace traditional textbooks with digital alternatives, including e-textbooks and open content, for the entire school.
experiences with conference attendees, and a list of essentials for any institution considering a transition to e-texts.
"We found at the end that our initial idea was very different from where we needed to be to make this thing work," Spiwak
"We thought we'd have one device, deal with one publisher--every one of those early ideas were a mistake."
What do you need to implement a successful e-text program?
Start with a cross-platform e-reader software that will run on any device, Spiwak
"If the way our students read their e-text was based on where they bought the book, proprietary from a publisher or to the device, it would have been like asking them to manage five e-mail systems," he
"We wanted to make sure that, whatever happened with the tech, the student was left hanging with an e-book that he
could no longer read," Spiwak
"We decided not to shove this down anyone's throat," Spiwak
"When students saw their textbook costs drop, they demanded it, and faculty responded."
Daytona also found that, by guaranteeing publishers 100 percent sellthrough--that is, all students in a class would be required to pay for the text for that class upfront, something like paying a lab fee--the school had enough leverage to get the cost of the e-texts down by at least 60 percent, far less than rentals or even used texts.
"The publishers liked that idea," Spiwak
"Many of our [community] college transfer students were spending more for textbooks--new, used, and rental; any combination--than they were spending on tuition," Spiwak