Senate Bill 938 Aims to Make College More Affordable

Posted April 13th, 2015 in News by Micah Jenkins

State senator Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has officially filed a measured aimed at making post-secondary education in Florida more affordable.

Senate Bill 938 would exempt college textbooks and other instructional material from sales taxes. In order to obtain the tax exemption, students would have to present their student ID number and course syllabus to the textbook vendor.

The bill would also require that public universities list textbooks and other instructional material for at least 90% of courses and course sections to be taught in the upcoming term. This list would be made available to students at least 14 days before the start of class registration, and would have to be featured prominently on both the university website and within the course registration system.

In additional to textbook affordability, the bill also attempts to grant tax exempt status to the purchase of prepaid meal plans and prohibit resident undergraduate, graduate and professional tuition from exceeding a specified amount per credit hour.

To read the bill in its entirety, download the pdf, or visit the Florida State Senate Website

Scott Proposes an End to Taxes on Textbooks

Posted February 9th, 2015 in News by Micah Jenkins

In an effort to reduce the price of college for Florida students, Governor Rick Scott is proposing an end to state and local sales taxes on college textbooks.  This new plan would cost the State of Florida approximately $40 million, but “would save full-time students at least $60 per year.”  The textbook savings plan was released in conjunction with $23.5 million plan to expand Bright Futures Scholarships to include summer courses.  In total, this particular proposal to the 2015-2016 budget would cost approximately $65 million.

If you would like to read more, please visit:

http://www.usforacle.com/news/view.php/858761/Scott-pitches-no-textbook-tax-Bright-Fut

Creators of Textbook Price Comparison Tool Face Potential Litigation

Posted January 12th, 2015 in News by Micah Jenkins

Following a recent Reddit discussion thread, a new textbook price comparison tool called Occupy The Bookstore has grown in popularity.  According to the Reddit thread, Occupy The Bookstore is “a Chrome Plugin which overlays competitive market prices for textbooks directly on the college bookstore website.”  When a user installs the extension, they see their bookstore’s prices for textbooks, as well as pricing from various online vendors.

The creators of the chrome extension, Peter Frank and Ben Halpern, are also the founders of Texts.com, a site that helps buyers find the best prices for textbooks.  They are now facing litigation from the Follett Higher Education Group, the largest campus bookstore operator in the US.  The Follett Group recently emailed Frank and Halpern and asked that they remove the extension on the basis that it “is effectively changing the presentation of the information on the screen.”  Follett then stated that legal action would be pursued in the event of noncompliance.  Unfortunately for Follett, their requests seem to have generated an unforeseen amount of publicity for the plugin; Occupy The Bookstore has now been downloaded from the Chrome Web Store more than 20,000 times and its creators have no intentions of removing it.

If you would like to learn more, please visit:

http://www.businessinsider.com/textbooks-just-got-a-lot-cheaper-thanks-to-2-college-grads-2015-1

http://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-DGB-39652

New Open Courseware Released

Posted November 13th, 2014 in Faculty, Graduates, Staff, stories, Undergraduates by Micah Jenkins

On October 31, 2014, Dr. Autar Kaw, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida, simultaneously released all of the resources needed to complete the online, university level course “Introduction to Matrix Algebra.” As an OpenCourseWare (OCW), the course is free and open to all users.

The courseware includes:

  • 150 YouTube video lectures (approximately 14 viewing hours) with transcripts
  • 10 textbook chapters, presented in both PDF and DOC formats
  • 10 online multiple-choice quizzes with complete solutions
  • 10 problem sets
  • 10 PowerPoint presentations
  • 6 applied problems in engineering and science

and covers the following topics:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Vectors
  • Chapter 3: Binary Matrix Operations
  • Chapter 4: Unary Matrix Operations
  • Chapter 5: System of Equations
  • Chapter 6: Gaussian Elimination Method
  • Chapter 7: LU Decomposition
  • Chapter 8: Gauss-Seidel Method
  • Chapter 9: Adequacy of Solutions
  • Chapter 10: Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors

Introduction to Matrix Algebra is not the first OCW delivered by Kaw.  It follows the 2009 release of the OCW titled “Holistic Numerical Methods,” which receives more than a million page views annually.  The associated YouTube lectures received more than 900,000 views last year, and the “Numerical Methods Guy” blog now receives 150,000 annual visitors.

Kaw, along with his colleagues from around the nation, have been developing, implementing, refining and assessing these online resources since 2002.  They are funded in part by the National Science Foundation, and, to date, have received four NSF grants totaling more than $1.5 million.

For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Autar Kaw.

Seeking Proposals for Open Access Pilot

Posted November 5th, 2014 in Faculty, stories by Micah Jenkins

USF Innovative Education (InEd) and the USF Libraries are partnering to implement a pilot program that encourages the development of open access e-textbooks at the University of South Florida and seek proposals for their development by USF faculty members. Open access e-textbooks are digital in format and made freely available over the web in an effort to support creativity and innovation around the world. InEd and the Libraries are committed to publishing open access e-textbooks in order to support students from the perspective of both e-textbook affordability and the enhanced learning opportunities provided by the digital format.

A USF faculty member must be the lead author on the proposed e-textbook. The manuscript selected for consideration will undergo peer review and will be reviewed at its completion by the USF Open Access E-textbook Committee. The e-textbook may include original multi-media and interactive content. Technical support for the development of these features will be provided to the author(s) by InEd. InEd will also provide oversight during the process leading to the completion of the e-textbook. The USF Libraries will be responsible for hosting and archiving USF’s open access e-textbooks, delivering the e-textbooks in multiple formats (PDF, HTML, ePub, iBook), support for the peer review process, and ISBN.

The e-textbook should be a comprehensive work geared toward a specific field of study. Preference will be given to proposals with applicability toward multiple, high-enrollment, and online undergraduate courses. Copyright will be held by the USF author(s) and will be published under a Creative Commons (creativecommons.org) license.

The author will be compensated with an award of $12,500, plus an additional $7,500 which could be used for such purposes as course buy-out, research support, and production services. An itemized budget breakdown for the $7,500 will be required with the application. Applications will be reviewed by the USF Open Access E-textbook Committee. Awards will be based on the quality and strength of application and how well it meets the requirements. For funded proposals, it is our intention to distribute a portion of the award in the spring 2015 semester and the remaining funds after completion of the project. The author agrees to revise as needed during peer-review and to complete 100% of the e-textbook by July 31, 2015.

The Call for Proposals will be distributed on October 10, 2014 and proposals are due November 10, 2014.  Selected authors will be notified by November 30, 2014.  Anticipated e-textbook is to be completed by the last day of class, summer session 2015. The e-textbook must be available for fall, 2015.

To help us evaluate your project, we need to know more about you and your book. Please submit a proposal that provides necessary information by completing the form below:

Proposal Submission Form

 

Send proposal and C.V./resume for each author as email attachments to:

Cynthia DeLuca, AVP Innovative Education, deluca@usf.edu