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Updated 2:15 PM December 9, 2008
 

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Textbook early adoption tools help students save money

When Law School Assistant Dean for Student Affairs David Baum urged faculty to participate in a new program on early textbook adoption, it was, in his words, "the right thing to do."

Baum, in consultation with Associate Dean Mark West, worked with the school's faculty to encourage them to take advantage of a new tool that allows them to declare their text choices early enough for students to find less expensive used books.

"We're all looking for ways to save money, and here we're trying to save our students money as well," Baum says, adding that new texts used by Law School students can run as much as a few hundred dollars for a single class.

Following recommendations from a task force appointed by the Office of the Provost, Michigan Administrative Information Services (MAIS) and the CTools Implementation Group developed the online tool in the Wolverine Access Faculty Center, in which faculty enter textbook information that then is made available to students via Wolverine Access Class Search/Course Catalog and in the CTools My Workspace.

The same group also created a UBook feature in CTools that allows students to buy and sell texts by advertising them online. With UBook, students post a book they hope to sell, a would-be buyer expresses interest in the text via e-mail, and the transaction occurs between the individuals, not within CTools.

Since Oct. 6, when online ordering became available, 353 staff and faculty have used the new tool to enter 2,685 textbooks for 1,822 classes. Since the Nov. 10 launch of UBooks, 56 students already have posted 167 books for resale.

Junior Cameron Cropek, a kinesiology major, calls UBook "a great idea."

"It will simplify the textbook buying and selling process a lot, and bring it down to a local level," he says. "In the past I have sold my old textbooks online, and the transactions are difficult. They send you a check in the mail, you have to pay for shipping and it is hard to tell if the buyer is even legitimate.

"I guess (with UBook) I will be able to meet the person I buy or sell books from, and that takes away the uncertainty of buying online."

Early adoption also helps local bookstores purchase used copies of the titles at the best price, allowing them to compete with online sellers. The tool is set up to give daily updates to the local bookstores.

"It is too early to tell how successful the program will be but we are pleased that many faculty already have responded to this effort to help students save money in the face of the dramatic increases in the cost of new textbooks," says Lester Monts, senior vice provost. "We recognize that early decisions are not possible for all faculty, but over time we hope those that can declare their choices early will see the value to students and to themselves."

Monts says faculty benefit by finding out early if there are problems stocking a particular title, if there is a new edition, or if a title is out of print. The process also gets materials to students before they register, so that they can be sure the course is what they expect.

Faculty members are encouraged to use the system even when they don't have textbooks to list. The tool allows them to indicate if no textbook is required and they can enter information about where course packs can be obtained.

It is not too late for faculty members to order early. For background and instructions on ordering textbooks and other materials through the Faculty Center in Wolverine Access, see Textbook Help at heprod.dsc.umich.edu/htmldoc/eng/dftie/lsaa/htm/sr_fb_textbooks.htm.

To read the Textbook Taskforce report go to www.provost.umich.edu/reports/Textbook_Task_Force_Final_Report.pdf.

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