Course Materials for Free

More College Students Are Downloading Course Materials for Free—Or Skipping Them Entirely

Rebecca Koenig     Jul 25, 2019

a big increase since the fall of 2015, when only 3 percent of students reported downloading free course materials.

That figure includes texts procured legally, like open educational resources (known as OER), and illegally, such as pirated files shared through torrent websites. The most recent data NACS has on the latter behavior is from the fall of 2017, when 4 percent of respondents reported obtaining materials through illegal downloads.

The survey includes responses from nearly 20,000 college students at 41 four-year and two-year institutions across 20 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

Pearson announced it will adopt a “digital first” strategy for updating college course materials. And earlier this year, two of the world’s largest publishers of textbooks, Cengage and McGraw-Hill, announced plans to merge, and plan to offer a subscription-based service that combines their digital libraries in one package. (“oligopoly” – see slide 12 of this presentation to the Bulgarian Library and Information Association,

several possible factors influencing falling spending
A third may be the growth of so-called inclusive-access programs. In these deals, colleges order published materials in bulk, then charge students a per-course fee that grants them access to all of the required texts and tools. This approach typically offers students lower prices than they can get at retail stores on new books, but some students complain that it stops them from finding lower prices on their own.

The high price of books was the top reason given by students who decided not to obtain the required texts, but 38 percent said they didn’t want them or didn’t think they’d need them.

“Students want to wait to see if the professor is really going to use it and if it’s really going to be necessary for class,” says Lisa Malat, COO of Barnes & Noble College.

Cengage and McGraw-Hill

An open-access advocacy group on Wednesday sent a formal filing to the U.S. Department of Justice opposing the proposed merger of two of the world’s largest textbook publishers, Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education.

a former adjunct professor at Arizona State University accused the university of firing him because he pushed back against a department-wide decision to adopt a digital textbook.

Cengage, McGraw-Hill Agree to Merge to Become 2nd Biggest US Textbook Publisher

By Tony Wan and Wade Tyler Millward     May 1, 2019

Cengage is now betting its digital business on an annual subscription that gives students unlimited access to all of its digital textbook materials, along with online homework tools and study guides. Earlier this February, it claimed to have sold 1 million such subscriptions since the program was launched in August 2018.

McGraw-Hill Education acquisitions include Redbird Advanced Learning (a K-12 math, reading and writing curriculum provider) Area9 (an adaptive learning technology) and ALEKS (an online adaptive math program).


How Merger of Two Textbook Giants Could Impact Course Materials

By Jeffrey R. Young     May 3, 2019

In a joint interview with EdSurge, Michael Hansen, the CEO of Cengage, and Nana Banerjee, president and CEO of McGraw-Hill, said that allowing students the option of paying a flat fee for digital content across the publishers’ offerings could happen sooner than people might think.

Called “Cengage Unlimited,” the program offers students access to every digital textbook and tool the company sells, across the many different tech platforms on which they run. (Many of them were acquired as separate products over the years, such as WebAssign, an online homework application.)

Only about 20 percent of courses in the U.S. use digital course materials, estimated Hansen, meaning that “80 percent of the students are still learning like my parents learned

access to every digital textbook and tool the company sells, across the many different tech platforms on which they run.

Groups advocating for lower textbook prices expressed concerns about the merger

Megan Simmons, a sophomore at Barnard College and director of strategy for the national nonprofit group Student Voice, had one of her first experiences with a digital homework tool in an Italian class. The textbook cost $150, and the access code for the accompanying digital system was another $100. “And the access code can’t be reused,” she complained, meaning she couldn’t resell it after the semester. “Everyone is basically stuck buying that $100 access code.”

my note: lawsuits