Florida House of Represenativies Drafts Bill for Textbook Affordability

Posted April 25th, 2014 in News by Alexander

The Florida House of Representatives recently drafted a bill (HB 355) in an attempt to make college textbooks more affordable for students. The bill is now being reviewed by the Senate, and if it passes into law, it will affect how professors select textbooks for their courses and the timeline for informing students. Here is a summary of the bill:

  • Applies the current textbook affordability law to define and include instructional materials.


  • Requires Florida College System institutions and state universities to post a list of required and recommended textbooks and other instructional materials for each course at least 14 days prior to the first day of class registration. The list of textbooks must also be posted prominently in the course registration system and on their website.


  • Requires the use of the same textbook in a course for a minimum of 3 years, unless granted an exemption by the college president or designee.


  • Allows postsecondary institutions that are unable to meet the fall 2014 textbook information posting deadline to submit quarterly reports to the State Board of Education and Board of Governors about their efforts to be in compliance with these requirements by fall of 2015.


  • Requires reports on cost, exemptions, adoption cycles and reasons for failure to comply.


  • Requires the cost benefits of open access textbooks and instructional materials, including comparison with the cost benefit of publishers’ textbooks and instructional materials, to be included in guidelines that encourage course instructors and academic departments to participate in the development, adoption, and review of open access textbooks and instructional materials.

The Senate formed a similar measure (SB 530), but it is still under review by a subcommittee. It has one more committee before the Senate will vote on the bill and potentially pass it to the House.

If you would like to read House Bill 355, visit:

If you would like to read Senate Bill 530, visit:

Internet2 / EDUCAUSE Etextbook Pilot

Posted April 17th, 2014 in Programs, stories by Alexander

The University of South Florida joined twenty three other universities in the Internet 2 / EDUCAUSE Etextbook Pilot which spanned over three semesters, including the fall 2012, spring 2013, and fall 2013 terms. USF’s reasons for participating in the pilot were to offer cheaper alternatives to expensive textbooks, enhance learning, and explore emerging etextbook technology.

  • The pilot was based on a successful etextbook model used at Indiana University in 2009 by Bradley C. Wheeler, the university’s vice president for information technology.
  • The model promoted the idea that if a university bought etextbooks in bulk and charged a mandatory course-materials fee to cover the costs, the university could negotiate a much better price per book for their students.
  • USF utilized Student Technology Fee funds to pay a flat fee for inclusion in each pilot phase, which covered the e-reader platform (Courseload) and publisher-provided content.
  • The USF Tampa Library lead the project with support from USF Information Technology.
  • Over 3,000 USF students participated and were provided their textbooks at no cost for the duration of the pilot.
  • The Courseload e-reader, a digital learning platform designed to enhance etextbooks with greater mobility and studying tools, was required to access the etextbooks in the pilot.
  • The etextbooks and Courseload were integrated onto Blackboard and Canvas.
  • Courseload was intended to encourage students to take advantage of their etextbooks by enabling them to print what they needed, highlight passages in the text, create annotations, and use the collaborative features in order to engage more with fellow students and their professor.
  • At the end of the pilot, students and faculty were asked to provide feedback through a survey developed on Survey Monkey about their experience with the etextbooks and the Courseload platform in order to assess the effectiveness of the pilot.
  • Internet2 / EDUCAUSE collected the survey data from all of the participating universities and created an official summary report. You can access the report here.

If you would like to see a summary of the USF data, click here!


Monica Metz-Wiseman – Project Lead – (monica@usf.edu, 813 974-9854)
Laura Pascual – Liason to Faculty, Publishers, and Internet2 / EDUCAUSE – (lcpascua@mail.usf.edu)

USF Students Create Mobile App for Buying and Selling Textbooks

Posted April 16th, 2014 in stories by Alexander

Marcus Ducheine and Travis Tyson are two USF students behind a new textbook buying and selling mobile application called Swap Shop. The purpose of Swap Shop is to facilitate the buying and selling of textbooks between students, allowing sellers to set their own prices and buyers to shop around their area for the best deals.

Marcus and Travis began development of the Swap Shop application in January 2013 with the help of the USF-based application developer Simply Advanced. Their working experiences with expensive textbooks compelled them to develop the application, hoping to benefit their fellow students with more affordable textbook options. Marcus worked in the Center for Student Involvement for three years and frequently observed student complaints about the burden of expensive textbooks, while Travis tutored high-school students struggling to prepare for college.

One of the most interesting features of the application is the ability to locate textbook deals using mobile GPS. The user inputs textbook information (title, author, or ISBN) and all potential seller locations and prices will appear on the map, allowing the user to find the cheapest prices offered in the area. If a desired textbook is not currently available, the user can choose to be notified by phone when a seller lists the textbook for sale. Other features include the ability to search for a textbook by scanning its barcode, a local and online bookstore price comparison tool, and a messaging system to facilitate communication between sellers and buyers.

The application will always be free for buyers, but it is only free to sellers for the first year. After the first year and two complimentary listing credits, sellers will need to pay a fee of $0.99 per sale listing.

The Swap Shop application is currently available for Android phones, with an iOS version planned for the future. You can download it at the Google Play Store, as well as on their website Swap Shop Mobile.

Disclaimer: TAP is happy to promote this mobile app for it’s first (free) year.

University System of Maryland Enters Open Access Pilot

Posted April 11th, 2014 in News by Alexander

Since the start of the spring 2014 semester, the University System of Maryland began to conduct a textbook pilot program to reduce textbook costs by using open access materials. The pilot program is a recent strategy of the University System of Maryland to enhance and expand their online learning offerings, while trying to save students money. Their method is to redesign courses with a stronger web presence and open access materials, and using class time specifically to focus on discussion.

The university system estimates the pilot saving 1,100 students a total of $130,000 over the semester. The participating universities within the system include the University of Baltimore, Bowie State University, Copping State University, Chesapeake College, and St Mary’s College of Maryland.

The pilot program stems from a partnership with Lumen Learning, a Portland, Oregon-based company that helps instructors access and evaluate open access content, tests, graphics, and other materials for course adoption. Through grants, Lumen Learning is providing this service for free to the Maryland system, along with 19 other universities nationwide.

If you would like to read the full article, visit:

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Encourage the Adoption of Etextbooks Nationwide

Posted March 28th, 2014 in News by Alexander

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene recently introduced bipartisan-supported legislation in Washington, DC to encourage the use of low-cost or open access digital course materials in higher education. The legislation, termed the E-BOOK Act (Electronic Books Opening Opportunity for Knowledge), aims to develop pilot programs at public institutions across the United States in an attempt to increase access to digital content, expand the availability of e-readers for low-income students, and encourage instructors to adopt emerging learning technologies into their courses.

If the E-Book Act is passed, it would give permission to the Department of Education to award $20 million in grants to establish the pilot programs. The expansion of access to the newest and emerging learning tools will provide college faculty and administrators with the ability to improve learning outcomes and save their students hundreds of dollars on textbooks.

If you would like to read the press-release, visit: