This evening on the University of Central Oklahoma’s main announcements page on the faculty/staff/students portal, I noticed a message titled, “Textbook Rental Program Available Fall 2010.” It reads:
Beginning with the Fall 2010 semester, Central students will have the option of renting textbooks from the UCO Barnes and Noble Bookstore.
Students will have the option to rent 250 of the approximately 1,900 textbooks used at the university instead of buying the books and returning them later for possibly a partial refund.
Students will be able to rent textbooks in the store or online at http://uco.bncollege.com. Rented textbooks are due back to the bookstore no later than 10 days after the last day of finals.
For more information on the program, contact UCO’s Barnes and Noble Bookstore at 974-2736.
This option to “rent textbooks” is certainly intriguing, but I was even more interested in the link for “digital textbooks” on that UCO Barnes and Noble online bookstore page.
A search of the site reveals “no eBooks for your campus,” but perhaps none have been loaded into the system yet for the upcoming term. There ARE a wide variety of eTextbooks available on the site, however, so I clicked on those available for EDUCATION and “Professional Development & Teacher Education.”
These prices don’t seem steeply discounted to me. “Digital downloads” for $76.27, $78.00, and $63.00? Clearly this isn’t the Amazon.com store for Kindle eBooks. Textbook publishers continue to enjoy their controlling power over student and parent pocketbooks. Hopefully projects like Connexions at Rice University will change that soon.
On a personal note, it will be interesting to see where the curriculum I created for my two sections of “Technology 4 Teachers” this past semester at UCO takes me. It’s clear we NEED new curriculum for pre-service education teachers at UCO and other universities enrolled in “the required technology course.” It’s not clear to me what the best available / published source for that curriculum is today. I’m looking forward to a conversation over Skype this coming Thursday with several other professors / instructors of similar courses, to discuss our experiences and lessons learned. Assuming all goes well I’ll publish out the recording of that conversation as a podcast, and others may as well.
eBooks and eTextbooks SHOULD offer not only greater accessibility and functionality for students as well as instructors, they should also offer better VALUE. Apparently some textbook companies don’t “get” that idea yet. Perhaps it will take more professors and instructors writing and publishing openly licensed textbook materials, as some are doing through Flat World Knowledge and other digital publishers, to move this train.
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