November 2013 Update
by Roberta Nicora

A long but hectic summer has moved to dark and wet evenings.  But what a summer – as well as the heat, Kortext, the UK's leading digital learning platform and etextbooks provider, was working flat out on back to university implementations for bulk purchases of etextbooks.  The projects ranged from strategic institution wide “free book” deals for students enrolling into university all funded centrally, to small departmental deals where the lecturer or department head has used etextbooks as a key learning tool and often tied the purchase of the core etextbook in with the purchase of a tablet, such as an iPad of Samsung Galaxy Tab or Note.  Interestingly these deals were not restricted just to England, where the new fee structures have paid such an important role in how institutions think about what they can give back to the students. There is just as much interest in Scotland which has a different student funding regime than England and indeed further afield with both the Middle Eastern and African countries actively engaging in etextbook adoption.  The key mantra for both the institution and the student is that they are being equipped to learn.

So, what next?  Well we will await the outcome of these 1st semester implementations that have occurred in over a dozen Universities and produce case studies which we will post on the web.  In terms of what will happen next year, many departmental heads and VC’s have been looking at what is going on this year and are considering making the strategic move to purchase content on behalf of the students for 2014/2015 – and in most cases they would see the solution as being digital rather than print.

So here is my forecast.  We will see an increasing number of Universities buying textbooks on behalf of their students to equip them with their core textbooks and integrate these into the learning management systems.  Where this is an institution wide initiative it will be seen not only as a marketing exercise to recruit and retain students, but primarily as a tool to provide the students with equality of access and an equal start to university life encouraging their committed participation.  In other areas we will continue to see individual departmental initiatives in delivering core etextbooks to their students and this will be on the increase, very often tied in with the purchase a tablet to provide the full digital learning experience.  Also tied to this will be more and more publishers making the textbooks available in digital form and working with leading digital learning platforms such as Kortext to take these to market. Clearly Universities and students want an aggregated book offering rather than individual publisher offerings. Why would you not want access to all your textbooks from one place? 2014 will be a pivotal year!



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