Some Miami University students will walk around campus with lighter backpacks as part of an e-book pilot launching this semester.
Ten courses will use e-books this semester in place of traditional textbooks, according to Randy Hollowell, Miami’s senior communications and web coordinator.
With the pilot, students involved will get the e-book for their course for free, which they can access on their computer, Hollowell said.
According to Kristen Kieffer, assistant director of IT communications Miami’s pilot is actually part of a larger e-book pilot with other participating universities.
With the larger pilot already in place Miami found an opportunity they had been looking for, Hollowell said.
“The idea of e-text has been discussed for quite a while,” Hollowell said. “We were just looking for the opportunity to start the process.”
The pilot partners with one publisher, McGraw-Hill, so the e-book pilot was only offered to instructors who use texts from that publisher, Hollowell said.
Even though the offer was limited, Hollowell said the instructors who had the opportunity to participate in the pilot were eager to jump in.
“Just about everybody that was involved in the process was interested,” Hollowell said.
Bruce Perry, associate professor of teacher education, is taking part in the pilot with his physical science classes.
While paperless textbooks are less conventional, Perry said he wanted to push the limits of a traditional college course.
“Let’s push the edge of the envelope,” Perry said. “Let’s see what happens.”
The e-book provides an opportunity for instructors to make notes and provide additional resources within the text their students can see, Perry said.
“That right there is a marvelous connection to the student,” he said.
Though Perry was expecting some anxiety from his students about the use of an e-book, he said he has yet to get any emails or complaints about the absence of a physical book.
Hollowell said opinions of e-books are different for everyone.
“It may not be [for] everyone,” Hollowell said. “Having choices is always a good thing.”
Junior Alex Berkoff said he prefers e-books over regular textbooks.
“I find it a lot more convenient,” Berkoff said. “I can have all my textbooks in one location.”
In addition to convenience, Berkoff said he likes e-books because they are less expensive and make it easier to find certain information within the text.
Students involved in the pilot courses can also opt to buy an inexpensive spiral-bound black and white version of the course’s textbook if they choose, but the full-scale version of the textbooks are not for sale at the university bookstore, Hollowell said.
Perry said he is excited for the e-book opportunity and eager to see how his students react.
“I want to press my students to explore the possibilities, to tell me what they like and what they don’t like,” he said.