At VitalSource®, it is a priority for us to listen to our users and make our solutions as useful as possible to teaching and learning. That’s why we are excited to announce we have integrated with Microsoft OneNote to expand on our popular feature: Export your Notebook.
At VitalSource®, it is important for us to understand the evolving higher education technology landscape as it relates to teaching and learning. Little data is currently available on the use of technology in higher education in the United Kingdom overall, with most reports being specific to a single university. To address this problem, we commissioned Shift Media to assess the extent to which UK students are open to digital learning - and to measure their satisfaction with institutional eTextbook programmes.
For 20 years, VitalSource® has been providing the leading content delivery platform in education and corporate training. In those 20 years, we have grown from a small handful of employees sharing a Raleigh office to 225 strong with offices in Raleigh, Boston, Nashville, London and Melbourne. We’ll soon have a presence in Dubai, Brazil, Mexico, amongst other regions, and with 50-plus positions being hired next year, we’re extremely bullish on our team and the value we hope to bring to our customers.
Last month, our own Mike Hale wrote about course-fee models as the way to ensure all college students had their required course materials on or before the first day of classes. As he mentioned, this model, powered by VitalSource Access®, has been implemented by more than 400 colleges and universities throughout the United States, saving students in excess of $100 million over the past 12 months.
One of those schools is Hinds (Miss.) Community College.
There is a minimum anyone in the ed-tech space must do around accessibility to even be considered relevant. Adding to this minimum, there is an increased expectation of what every ed-tech company should do. And then, of course, there is the hope all ed-tech vendors will do the right thing. Let’s examine each of these:
The Minimum: Do the fundamentals and be held accountable
Any reading system that delivers content into a learning environment must respect the markup that is within the files they are delivering and expose that markup to assistive technology. The use of web technologies is pervasive today and you would never consider building an app that did not work or somehow leverage the internet. It is unthinkable (and dare I say irresponsible!) to have a reading system in today’s ed-tech marketplace that is not accessible. WCAG 2.0 is a fundamental assumption now, and provides clear direction on what every vendor must do. You have to support the content markup, as well as be completely transparent in sharing just how well you do that. Publishing your VPAT may be the current minimum legal requirement, but your transparency must extend beyond this as well.
When you have a platform that delivers content to several million users each year, it is critically important that every user can get access when they need it. Whether it is VitalSource® Access powering their course content with day-one availability, supporting partners like Follett, Barnes & Noble and many others, or simply powering the publisher or storefront that directly sells to the learner, we work hard to ensure content is available where and when users need it (this is one of the reasons we deliver native applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Chromebooks that all allow you to download and use your content offline). The need for access at the same time as everyone else is especially true for users with a disability.
Part 2 of 2: The Solution
Previously we discussed why course materials pricing had increases well beyond inflation, and why the dynamics of this market has hurt student success. If you want to read the full entry, access Part 1 of 2 here: What would happen if learning materials were provided to all students on or before the first day of class? Part I
We promised a solution, and it’s absurdly simple. Break the cycle and lower the total cost of education by eliminating the print textbook. Do this and students will benefit both economically and educationally.
Part 1 of 2: Why doesn’t this happen?
If all required learning materials, including textbooks, were provided to all students on or before the first day of class, the average price per student of learning materials would drop and students would be more successful.
Here’s hoping everyone is having a great start to the 2016-17 school year!
At VitalSource we are committed to ensuring every student has the tools needed to be successful. As technology advances, we have to keep pace. That’s why we've rolled out a number of helpful new features for our Bookshelf platform this fall.
Editor’s Note: This is the third of three posts on VitalSource’s recent study conducted by Wakefield Research.
Even as students are growing more disappointed with the state of technology in their classrooms, digital textbooks are proving to be an outlier as a trusted learning tool, according to a recent survey of 500 college students.
Not All Tech Created Equal
Digital textbooks are bucking the disillusionment trend current classroom technology is facing: