Ohio State considering switch to digital textbooks to help students save money

    Jennie Babcock speaking about the savings digital course materials offers students. (Courtesy: Ohio State)

    With the costs of higher education constantly on the rise, Ohio State hopes to alleviate some burden from students by offering digital course materials.

    The plan is being considered by university leaders after a pilot program, CarmenBooks, was provided for students this semester. The university said all students in the program were offered digital access to course materials directly using eReader software.

    “Once a student enrolls in a course, the textbook is seamlessly there. They have access before the first day of class,” said Jennie Babcock, undergraduate program director at the College of Social Work.

    The university said 1,606 students from 12 courses in two colleges participated. They saved $217,173 combined; around $135 per student.

    "Students were notified of the discounted digital textbook cost during their course registration and paid the associated digital textbook fee as part of their tuition and fees," said Ohio State in a release.

    If the Ohio State Board of Trustees extend the pilot program, the university said 11,500 students from 32 courses in nine colleges could save about $75 per student over the next two semesters.

    Ohio State said the cost savings would be part of a commitment by the university's Affordable Learning Exchange to reduce the cost of course content.

    “Our goal is to save students $10 million by 2020,” Associate Vice President of Learning Technology Liv Gjestvang said.

    Babcock added that students who purchase the digital book would continue to have access for it throughout their academic career.

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