Kimberly Holland and her team at Kennesaw State University Bookstore are on a mission to support student learning. If you’re surprised a campus store’s primary goal is student success, you may be shocked to learn that campus stores across the country are leading the charge to improve course materials affordability and access. In fact, at KSU, the store team has spent nearly six years working to bring to life a program that offers affordable, day-one access to course materials, all to benefit students.
As we enter 2019 and return to school and work, it’s clear that we’re finally in a digital-first world for learning materials.
Our internal stats really illustrate this macro trend. At this time last year, we had enabled a total of 7.8 million learners to access the learning materials that enabled them to excel in their pursuit of new skills and degrees. Now, we’ve almost doubled that number with over 15 million active learners; we rank in the top few hundred websites in the world during our busiest periods..
At VitalSource, we’re all about improving learning outcomes and affordability, at scale. While digital delivery of materials through new models like Inclusive Access have made course materials more affordable than ever, it’s the improvement in learning outcomes that makes digital course materials so special.
What does at scale mean in terms of learning data? Last year, VitalSource delivered over 20 million titles to 5.7 million students and 1 million faculty. These learners and educators read over 2.4 billion pages, created 177 million annotations and searched their content library over 66 million times. That’s learning data at scale.
Across the nation, a growing number of colleges and universities are looking for innovative solutions that can help lower costs and raise student achievement.
One of the many challenges in higher education is the cost of course materials and textbooks. Print textbook costs have risen 82 percent over the last decade – that’s more than three times the rate of inflation. These high costs have led a growing number of students to delay or avoid purchasing required course materials, even though they know their grades will suffer as a result.
Recently, VitalSource retired our venerable, 18-year-old proprietary ebook format, known as Dash, DashML or VitalSource XML. As part of Dash’s retirement ceremony, we transitioned students using Dash books to EPUB versions, seamlessly maintaining all of their licenses, bookmarks, notes and highlights to make sure the big change, years in the making, was painless.
Engineering work on Dash began all the way back in 1997 with the (then quite risky!) decision to go with the new XML format for our product, rather than the “industry standard” at the time, SGML. Creating the format was what lead us to develop the flexible VitalBook format (for which we received a patent in the United States, Australia, Canada, The Peoples Republic of China, The European Union, Hong Kong, and India) in 2004. Dash survived for years – through the launch of our early apps VitalViewer and vitalsource KEY, and of course it was the first format built into our popular Bookshelf textbook apps still available today.