Despite years of discussion, many higher education institutions are ill-prepared to work with e-content. But with e-content readers like the Kindle and iPad becoming ubiquitous, the demand from students cannot be ignored: they now expect e-content from their schools. During the last 18 months, Shel Waggener has studied institutions adopting e-content programs and developed a comprehensive list of tips for successful adoption, which are shared in his article “E-Content: Opportunity and Risk” for Educause Review. The following is an abridged list of his suggestions - click here
or the link at the end to read the full article.The “Do and Don’t” List:
Do: Get Started
Even if your institution hasn’t considered e-content before now, the students have.
Don’t: Focus Solely on Textbooks
“Planning only for text as part of a campus strategy will leave significant gaps in the testing and evaluation of delivered e-content,” Waggener suggests.
Do: Conduct Pilots
Explore all available options and conduct trials to establish which approaches work best for your institution.
Do: Engage Students
Give students a voice with focus groups, tech trend-watch committees, or user communities.
Don’t: Set Hardware Standards
E-content readers are still a young market; campus-wide standards are premature.
Do: Test Platforms for Devices and Reader Software
“By building a testbed that includes the dominant players,” Waggener writes, “institutions can allow interested parties to trail different platforms with various forms of e-content,” and “the community will trust that it is staying current with this fast-moving market.”
Don’t: Provide Exclusivity
Avoid contracts with e-content providers that hinge on digital exclusivity. Long-term contracts are risky in a field this fast-paced.
Do: Set Standards for Accessibility
New technologies offer opportunities to address accessibility, Waggener says - seize them.
Don’t: Sign Agreements with Proprietary Providers
Long-term vendor lock-ins can cost an institution more in the long run.
Do: Adopt Open Technology Standards
Open standards like HTML5 offer the benefit of working across common device platforms.
Don't: Accept Limited Terms for Content Access
Students purchasing e-content expect to have long-term access to that e-content and the option to purchase rights for print versions.
Do: Engage Faculty
Get faculty involved formally through academic senate and informally by meeting with faculty members who have a special interest in this area.
Do: Work with the Library
How can you make use of the content that the library already pays for?
Don't: Forget Research
Pilot studies help provide a structured approach to the implementation of new technologies.
Do: Consider Various Business Models
Make sure to have someone with business expertise on your team.
Don't: Leave E-Content to the Bookstore
“Institutional purchasing power can be leveraged to obtain discounts of 60 percent, 70 percent, or more off the list price.”
Do: Engage Campus Business Leadership and the CFO
This will be of interest to them - keep them in the loop.
Don't: Ignore Faculty Authors
Provide information for faculty authors on how to get their content to students via new technology.
Do: Choose Open Content
Be open to purchasing content that comes from non-traditional channels.
Do: Consider Comparison Content
Make sure that faculty have an easy-to-use comparison tool to investigate different content options.
Do: Plan for Analytics
“One of the biggest advantages of e-content over traditional textbooks is the e-content metadata (information about the use of the e-content),” Waggener says, “because its analysis can be particularly helpful to faculty, students, and the institution as a whole.”Click here to read Waggener’s full article