eText Paves the Way for Illinois' Digital Future
In the near future, electronic textbooks may be the norm for most college students across the country. At the University of Illinois, the wheels are already in motion to make textbooks more affordable through eText, an electronic textbook based on the publishing industry’s standard e-book format, ePub.
So what exactly is eText? eText allows locally created content to be converted into online textbooks for selected classes at the University. eText capitalizes on the interactivity of the Internet, incorporating embedded audio-video, group-style blogging, and written assignments. It is also more affordable for students compared to printed textbooks and provides a larger royalty to the department or instructor.
Other features of the eText that make it attractive to students include its compatibility with any HTML5-compliant browser; its clean, fast-loading interface; the fact that once students purchase the text, they retain access to it, as long as they’re affiliated with the University (with an active NetID); and if they want to keep the text beyond graduation, they can download a copy as an ePub file. Students also like not having to carry around heavy printed textbooks, and eText has the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly than printed textbooks. The eText is fully compliant with ADA Section 508.
“EText.illinois simply works. Our students—over 6000 of them—have found it easy to log-on and use. The local support cannot be matched by any of the big publishing houses,” said Professor Catherine Prendergast, Director of the Undergraduate Rhetoric Program, which utilizes eText. “EText.illinois is at the forefront of digital publishing for educational purposes.”
Additionally, eText is easily integrated into the University’s campus authentication system. Students go to the eText web page, enter the access code for the text, and then log in as themselves on the campus authentication page. This leads to the bookshelf area with their purchased eText(s) available for access. The system automatically links the student’s eText to their appropriate course section and instructor, even if the student changes course sections.
Currently, U of I students can utilize eText for three courses:
- ABE 225, Introduction to Bioenvironmental Engineering: Built Environment;
- RHET 105: Principles of Composition; and
- ACES 101: Introduction to ACES.
The eTexts are available through the University of Illinois WebStore (http://webstore.illinois.edu). According to the Association of American Publishers, digital books have grown from 0.6 percent of the total market share in 2008 to 6.4 percent in 2010, making eText a viable application for the University.
eText was created by academic professionals from the College of ACES-ITCS, including Yury Borukhovich, Marilou Landes, John Tubbs, Krista Sunderland, and Milind Basole.