Last month, I attended the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Convention. This conference was attended by hundreds of college CEOs, board members, CEOs in training, and others focused on the state of community colleges in the United States.
One of the sessions I attended was focused on digital delivery of course materials to students at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. The school had identified that due to the cost of books and the fact that financial assistance is not always ready before school begins, many students attend school without course materials, sometimes for 2-3 weeks into a term. This has a definite impact to the system:
- Students are behind in the class immediately
- When students are behind, they are more likely to drop the class
- Potentially 10% of the semester is spent without resources, making teaching more challenging
With unprepared students and high dropout rates as key issues for community colleges, it is no wonder that there is a need to find strategies to improve student success on day one, moment one, of the student’s experience.
Copiah-Lincoln implemented a program that charged an eResource fee to the students in classes earmarked for digital delivery of course materials. They targeted remedial classes, i.e. those classes students take when they score low on incoming placement testing. In one study, 40% of incoming community college students will take at least one remedial class. So, while only approximately 10% of classes in the Copiah-Lincoln program had the eResource program (which included textbook and other materials), a large population of students would be enrolled in these classes.
According to the speaker, Stephanie Duguid, Assistant Dean of Academic Instruction, they saw statistically relevant improvements in the student outcomes when students were prepared the first day, and in addition, fewer students dropped the class. The benefit to students who had digital delivery of course materials was better preparation as well as overall lower costs for book and material fees.
While there were some definite benefits related to student outcomes, there were also some challenges to implementing this program. Some of the obstacles included:
- Negotiating with publishers for e-versions of textbooks
- Complaints related to the fee and having to explain it
- The accounting for this new fee program, how do they do it
- Technology challenges
- Less revenue for the bookstore
- Measuring success
There is no doubt that tackling the difficult issues facing community colleges is definitely a combination of program changes, but implementation of eBook technology at this community college was a solid solution to key student issues.
Datalogics offers colleges a platform that is designed to combine the e-textbook with additional content provided through the teacher, but goes further by offering the student an interactive reading experience. Check out READynamic, and learn how this end-to-end eBook solution is creating a modern learning experience.