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Updated 10:00 AM September 29, 2008
 

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Online tool helps support early textbook adoption

A new online tool set to launch Oct. 6 will help faculty communicate their textbook selections early to both students and booksellers, in an effort to help students save money. The University is encouraging faculty to adopt the program, which is aimed at making it possible for more students to buy used books.

The Office of the Provost named a task force last year to address the rising cost of textbooks and to recommend solutions that would not compromise faculty freedom.

"One recommendation from the task force was to encourage faculty, particularly those in large courses where common texts are used, to select their books early, thereby fostering a used market that is beneficial to students and local booksellers," says Lester Monts, senior vice provost. "A number of faculty already order textbooks by early deadlines to help students save money, but we want to encourage others to use this new tool to communicate early to bookstores and students."

The online tool, housed in the Wolverine Access Faculty Center, was developed by Michigan Administrative Information Services (MAIS) and the CTools Implementation Group. When faculty enter their textbook information it also will be made available to students via Wolverine Access Class Search/Course Catalog and in the CTools My Workspace.

By ordering Winter '09 textbooks by the early adoption deadline of Oct. 29, faculty will provide the information that will help local bookstores purchase used books at the best price, and stock them early enough to be able to compete with online sellers. Students also benefit because booksellers will pay them a better buy-back price if they know the text will be used in the next term.

Early adoption has advantages for the faculty member as well, the task force notes. Bookstores will have adequate time to communicate to faculty any issues with an order, such as books out of print or new editions, prior to the Nov. 10 early registration, which is when textbook information will be available to students. It also gets the books into the hands of students earlier, which could help them better understand course content before they register.

"This is a win-win. Faculty have to report their textbooks in some way so now one tool will do that," says Brenda Gunderson, senior lecturer in statistics, LSA, and chair of the task force. Gunderson says that the faculty members she has shared the tool with and who served on the task force think the concept is great.

"When they see it's going to help students and also will lessen the number of e-mails they get from students asking what text book they're using, we believe other faculty will agree," she says.

The online system will allow U-M to comply with new 2010 requirements just passed into law. The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HR 4137) states that textbook information must be included in online course schedules to the extent possible.

In addition, a new CTools feature called UBook, to be available later in the fall, will allow students to buy and sell books among themselves. Those making the transactions also will benefit from early adoption, as students will be able to buy with confidence from their peers.

Gunderson says the task force hopes the U-M experience, which will be studied over the next several years, could become a model for other universities. A long-term goal of the University will be to work with faculty to influence book publishers to lower costs through use of new technology and other means.

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

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