Category Archives: Higher Education

Cengage’s new e-textbook subscription service seems reasonable, but the question lingers: Who needs textbooks anymore?

As reported by Inside Higher Ed (IHE) on December 5, 2018, Cengage has just introduced a Netflix-like subscription service giving students access to e-textbooks (in Cengage’s digital portfolio) for one set price, regardless of how many materials they use.

According to IHE, the new service, called Cengage Unlimited, “will give students access to more than 20,000 Cengage products across 70 disciplines and 675 course areas for $119.99 a semester. For 12 months’ access the price is $179.99, and for two years the price is $239.99. For students taking three or four courses a semester with assigned course materials from Cengage, the subscription could offer hundreds of dollars of savings a year, versus buying or renting the products individually.” [Read the full article here.]

As stated on Cengage’s site, this is “the first-of-its-kind digital subscription that gives students total and on-demand access  to all the digital learning platforms, ebooks, online homework and study tools Cengage has to offer – in one place.”

For added context, over 2,000 institutions in the United States reportedly assign Cengage materials in more than 10 courses; some 1,400 institutions assign Cengage materials in more than 20 courses; and some 600 institutions assign Cengage materials in more than 50 courses.

Given these numbers and given the steep price of educational materials, a Netflix-like subscription for course materials sounds logical. But, as Nate Hoffelder points out in The Digital Reader, it really comes down to how many textbooks students need a year.

Speaking of ‘use,’ I’m using this opportunity to put the spotlight (back) on the utility of digital textbooks in an age of interactive learning and massive amounts of (quality, reliable) educational information available freely on any given subject all over the Internet. Questions arise (in my mind, at least): Continue reading Cengage’s new e-textbook subscription service seems reasonable, but the question lingers: Who needs textbooks anymore?

VitalSource and Al Manhal collaborate to bring digital content from over 450 publishers to learners in the Middle East

From Vital Source:

VitalSource®, the world leader in building, enhancing and delivering digital course materials, and Al Manhal, the leading publisher of full-text searchable electronic databases of scholarly, professional and peer-reviewed content from the Arab World, are now collaborating to expand the reach and delivery of Al Manhal’s unique content collection from over 450 Arabic language publishers.

By working together, Al Manhal’s expansive collection will now be deliverable through VitalSource Bookshelf®, the most widely used higher education digital-content platform in the world. Continue reading VitalSource and Al Manhal collaborate to bring digital content from over 450 publishers to learners in the Middle East

EBSCO and BiblioLabs partner to support open access discovery of electronic theses and dissertations

EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) and BiblioLabs have announced the launch of a collaborative open access initiative dedicated to advancing library and industry innovation related to electronic theses and dissertations (ETD). OpenDissertations.org, is committed to facilitating open and free access to ETD metadata and content. In addition to the fully open website, EBSCO will include EDT metadata in EBSCO Discovery Service to facilitate access and improve content discovery.

Project sponsors recognize that ETD authors are faced with an expanding world of discovery and hosting options for their work. EBSCO is committed to easing the path of discovery. By exposing metadata via the OpenDissertations.org website and EBSCO Discovery Service, the project seeks to increase the visibility of ETDs on the open web. Users will be able to link from individual records in the database to partnering host sites, including academic institutional repositories. Continue reading EBSCO and BiblioLabs partner to support open access discovery of electronic theses and dissertations

A new study shows that students prefer to read digitally but learn more from print textbooks

From Insider:
“Teachers, parents and policymakers certainly acknowledge the growing influence of technology and have responded in kind. We’ve seen more investment in classroom technologies, with students now equipped with school-issued iPads and access to e-textbooks…Given this trend, teachers, students, parents and policymakers might assume that students’ familiarity and preference for technology translates into better learning outcomes. But we’ve found that’s not necessarily true….Our work has revealed a significant discrepancy. Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performance tended to suffer…”
Read the rest of the article on Insider here.

Safari, O’Reilly’s learning platform for higher education now available from ProQuest

O’Reilly Media’s completely new version of Safari: O’Reilly’s Learning Platform for Higher Education is now available from ProQuest. This version of Safari features both a new student experience and a new business model that provides academic institutions with easier, more affordable access for their entire student body.

“We designed the new Safari to support today’s students, who expect to learn online, on their own time, and in their preferred way,” said Karen Hebert-Maccaro, O’Reilly’s Chief Content Officer. “No longer just an online library, Safari is a rich, full-featured learning platform. And, our revamped business model allows our higher-ed customers to give all of their students full access to Safari. We are very excited to work with ProQuest, our exclusive distributor in the academic library market, to offer this new platform to libraries around the globe.” Continue reading Safari, O’Reilly’s learning platform for higher education now available from ProQuest

ProQuest Dissertations Now Discoverable in Google Scholar

From ProQuest:

Following the indexing of millions of scholarly articles in Google Scholar in 2015, ProQuest and Google are expanding their collaboration by indexing almost half a million full text dissertations from the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database (PQDT), the leading source of emerging research from the world’s great universities.

Google Scholar users can now seamlessly discover and access this set of full text dissertations in their libraries’ subscription collections. The user experience is improved and libraries benefit from increased usage for their content investment.

“Dissertations are excellent sources for finding emerging research and new voices,” said Allan Lu, Vice President Research Tools, Services and Platforms. “ProQuest has curated this content over decades and we’re continually looking for ways to simplify its discovery and access.” Continue reading ProQuest Dissertations Now Discoverable in Google Scholar

Alexander Street’s Social Work Online encompasses 100 hours of video

Encompassing 100 hours of video, Alexander Street’s Social Work Online is a multimedia resource that combines compelling documentaries, original training videos and client demonstrations with relevant text to illustrate the complex and challenging realities students of social work will face as practitioners.

This content addresses 12 of the most critical subjects in the social work curriculum:

Children and Families
Diversity
School Social Work
Older Adults
Substance Abuse
Criminal Justice
Mental Health
Health Care
Poverty
Crisis and Trauma
Social Welfare
History of Social Work

Created in collaboration with expert advisers comprised of faculty and librarians, Social Work Online supplements its video with 50,000 curated pages of text to deliver insights that go deeper than traditional social work textbooks. Continue reading Alexander Street’s Social Work Online encompasses 100 hours of video

In time for Women’s History month, Gale releases Women’s Studies Archive

Gale has just announced the first collection in its new Women’s Studies Archive. The archive is the third offering in an effort to publish material that supports diversity studies and provides historical context around current topics. This archive follows recentl launches of Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender (the largest digital archive of LGBTQ History and Culture) and the American Civil Liberties Union Papers (ACLU).

Women’s Studies Archive: Women’s Issues and Identities traces the path of women’s issues from past to present—pulling primary sources from manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, and more. It captures the foundation of women’s movements, struggles and triumphs.

Full press release below.


As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Gale, a Cengage company, has launched a new archive on women’s studies that explores the many contributions of women throughout history.  Part of the growing Gale Primary Sources program, the Women’s Studies Archive represents Gale’s focus on publishing material that supports diversity studies and provides historical context around current topics. Continue reading In time for Women’s History month, Gale releases Women’s Studies Archive

University Press Scholarship Online continues to grow, Princeton and University of Illinois now on board as partner presses

Oxford University Press (OUP) has just announced the addition of two new partner presses to its growing University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO) platform: University of Illinois Press and Princeton University Press. 

The University of Illinois Press will go live on UPSO in April 2017. Illinois Scholarship Online site will launch with 350 titles across a range of subject areas including sociology, music, history, society and culture, film television & radio, and literature.

Princeton University Press will be joining UPSO in October 2017.  The Princeton Scholarship Online site will go live with over 400 titles across the humanities and sciences with strengths in Biology, Classics, Economics, History, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, and Sociology.

Comprising over 23,000 titles in 31 subject areas, UPSO is available to university libraries around the world. Participating presses include, among many others, OUP, British Academy, Chicago University, Cornell, Fordham, MIT, NYU, Stanford, and Yale.

Western Sydney University makes etextbooks available for free to all first-year students

Western Sydney Uni

A ground-breaking collaboration between Western Sydney University and ProQuest provides digital textbooks for commencing university students through the University’s library, reducing the overall cost of education to students and increasing access to required learning materials.

One of the world’s largest initiatives of its kind, Western Sydney University is differentiating itself from other universities by making etextbooks from 60 academic publishers available to students via Ebook Central, ProQuest’s ebook platform. Continue reading Western Sydney University makes etextbooks available for free to all first-year students

ProQuest’s new white paper explores obstacles and opportunities in managing collections (print and electronic)

ProQuest white paperThe white paper, titled “Obstacles and Opportunities: Ebooks, Print and the Impact of Choice on Libraries and the Users They Serve,” explores the complexities of balancing print and ebooks, highlighting opportunities for collaboration between librarians and content aggregators. Focusing on the U.K. higher-education book market, the paper combines commentary from U.K. librarians with global data to draw attention to the complexities of managing book collections in multiple formats, focusing on:

 

  • Similarities between managing print and digital books.
  • Collection management obstacles—and opportunities—introduced by ebooks.
  • How librarians can work with content aggregators like ProQuest to simplify the management of collections comprised of content in multiple formats.

Continue reading ProQuest’s new white paper explores obstacles and opportunities in managing collections (print and electronic)

ProQuest launches free access to its databases for researchers affected by travel ban

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Kudos to ProQuest for this.

From a ProQuest press release:

No-charge access to ProQuest databases helps individuals continue their research and learning

ProQuest has launched a program to provide no-cost access to its databases for students and researchers who have been separated from their universities and libraries because of travel bans or other immigration changes. The company has an email hotline ContinueMyResearch@proquest.com where these displaced researchers can arrange for access to the materials they need to continue their work.

“ProQuest is an open and inclusive organization that takes its role in supporting research and learning very seriously,” said Kurt Sanford, ProQuest CEO. “We’re doing whatever we can to mitigate the interruptions facing our community of students and scholars around the world.” Continue reading ProQuest launches free access to its databases for researchers affected by travel ban

Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here?

New Zeoli

by Michael Zeoli

Academic library staff has been shrinking for 2 decades, while the quantity of scholarly content has grown exponentially.  In the 1960s Richard Abel & Company began the Approval Plan service as a systematic approach to help libraries manage the volume of new books published.  Libraries rely on vendor services (i.e., companies catering to libraries) to discover and acquire much of scholarly content.  Since the 90s, libraries have also depended on vendors to provide shelf-ready services for print books, customized cataloging, to manage financial transactions electronically, and to maintain online interfaces to support collection development and acquisitions processes.  Ebooks brought another layer of labor and complexity to library workflows.

Ebooks elbowing their way into the landscape

Within a decade of their birth, ebook aggregators entered mainstream library collecting.  Initially, the ebook appeared as just another format or manifestation of the print book; the library choice expanded beyond paper or cloth to include ‘e’ versions (in many cases PDFs).  Technology changed this: ebook models have upset the balance in traditional library collecting and continue to challenge traditional understandings not just of collection development, but of the role of the academic library.

The ebook aggregators’ business models exist outside the realm of print books – except as a distribution model on which to piggyback for just as long as necessary (think ‘the scorpion and frog’ fable).  The business of the aggregator is to sell ebooks, not books.  Aggregator ebook platforms are designed for this purpose.  Each is different from the others in design (technical as well as strategic):

  • User interface & experience
  • Library acquisition models
  • Library control of patron access
  • Publisher control over: 1) Library acquisition models; 2) License terms for each model; and 3)  ‘Triggers’ to purchase and loan (Patron-Driven Acquisitions – PDA / Short-Term Loan – STL / Evidence-Based Acquisitions – EBA)

‘Standards’ in the industry exist only to the degree necessary for one company to compete with another (‘not-for-profits’ are not exempted!).  Focus has been split 3 ways:

  • Competition to win market-share
  • Sustainable development of the market
  • Alternatives to ‘unsustainable models’

To a large extent, the futures of libraries and publishers live at the margins of these considerations. Continue reading Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here?

Unlocking knowledge means empowering people, and MIT is setting a powerful example

MIT OPenCourseWare

No need for an elaborate introduction here about what exactly MIT is doing by opening up their digital content online. Best to start by simply quoting Dick K.P. Yue, Professor at MIT School of Enginnering: “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”

If you haven’t heard about MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), here is the scoop. It’s intended not just to help educators at MIT improve curricula and make learning more effective for those enrolled at MIT, but to invite independent learners anywhere in the world to use the school’s course materials in their own educational pursuits and at their own pace. In other words, they are free to ‘take’ the course in the privacy of their own home by following full notes and having full access to materials every step of the way.

This is admirable. Truly admirable. And this is what the leaders among us who recognize the true value of digital content do: they open it up to the world. They eliminate all frictions and find ways to bypass man-made rules and institutions and simply make knowledge available to all. They have outgrown all unnecessary discussions of print and digital competing, and about complicated models that serve the select few, they recognize that unread/unused content has little to no value, and, most of all, they are pushing their own ‘institutional’ status quo by embracing the idea that learning never stops and that it is our collective responsibility to educate the world beyond the confines of university walls at a time when, despite all of the technological advances the world has seen, more than 90 percent of its population is not college-educated.

In a way, one can even argue that the same way the print book (the physical ‘paper’ object) is the container we buy, while consuming the content inside for free online (well, not really, but we hope to get there one day, don’t we?), the brick-and-mortar institution becomes the ‘experience’ we now buy (to directly engage with others, including professors and fellow students), while consuming the content (from course materials) online for free. So if we can’t afford to ‘be there’ in person, we can still afford to do it on our own terms.

Everything related to one’s ‘physical experience,’ then must come at a price, for obvious reasons: books must be printed (and before that, they must be written and produced); professors’ time must be paid, and the school’s expenses must be covered. In the same way, we are now able to listen to music for free online, while we must pay to attend a concert or by a CD or an LP (those of us who still collect them).

If we are able to recognize that digital content helps us open up knowledge to the world virtually while doing no harm to the ‘physical experience,’ we are able to create a circle in which everyone benefits. In fact, digital content and its widespread availability enhances the value of the ‘physical’ experience. All other creative mediums have caught on to this but books and textbooks. Initiatives like the one at MIT are a step in that direction.

Materials from 2340 courses are available, and the site is visited by millions. Each course includes lecture notes, slides, videos, instructor insights, Further Study listings, and much more. Here is a list of the most visited courses. MIT accepts donations to keep the operation running. For more info, go here.

Unlocking knowledge means empowering people not only beyond the university but beyond the borders of the United States of America. MIT is setting a powerful example.

Open Access reigns in The Netherlands: De Gruyter signs license agreement with Dutch universities

logo[1]“With this agreement, De Gruyter is furthering the policy of the Dutch government, which has prioritized Open Access for the country’s universities,” says Carsten Buhr, Managing Director of De Gruyter, in the press release announcing the publisher has signed an agreement with The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) to make Open Access articles available in DG’s hybrid journals. The portfolio available to Dutch scholars consists of 370 peer-reviewed journals.

From the press release:

The agreement covers the period from 2016 to 2018, and enables all academics that belong to an associated university to release Open Access publications through De Gruyter. As part of the agreement, the usual Article Processing Charge (APC) that is paid up front by authors is waived. This will apply only in cases where the institution has an active subscription for the journal to which the author submits an article for peer review and publication

According to the terms of the license agreement, the deducted Article Processing Charges will be reconciled with the annual subscription renewal cost for the following year.

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