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Archive for July, 2011

CourseSmart Unleashes Industry’s First HTML5 Reader

July 21st, 2011 by CourseSmart

Today CourseSmart® announced the beta launch of its newest reader platform providing users with online, offline, anything, anywhere access to their eTextbooks. The first in the industry to utilize HTML5 technology for eTextbooks and coupled with the latest version of Mozilla Firefox 5.0, this cloud-based offering now provides the same productivity features whether users are online or offline.

“CourseSmart’s use of ground-breaking technology and our innovative approach further demonstrates the company’s commitment to providing students and faculty with extraordinary access to affordable, outcome-oriented digital course materials,” said Sean Devine, CEO at CourseSmart. “Eliminating the necessity for users to make a choice between online and offline access is a significant step forward in our goal of providing students and faculty access to digital course materials from any device, anywhere.”

Students who have active online eTextbook digital rental access will immediately enjoy the benefits of the new offline capabilities. Additionally, instructor textbook evaluation services will also be available on the new reader platform, allowing instructors free access to evaluate more than 90 percent of all core higher education eTextbooks whether online or offline. The new reader experience also extends to CourseSmart’s productivity tools allowing users to highlight, search, copy, paste, take notes, share and print while offline. The platform synchronizes user notes across all modals, whether it is from their desktop computer, laptop, iPad®, iPhone®, iPod Touch®, Android™-based device, or any Web-enabled device.

A full list of features for the new reader is available here. And, just in time for back-to-school, try the new reader with a book you need for this semester at

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Can University Publishers Lead the Way to Digital Course Material Adoption?

July 19th, 2011 by CourseSmart

Many industry analysts have pinpointed university faculty as an essential element for college students’ adoption of e-textbooks and digital course materials. Stanford’s recent decision to offer digital versions of university press course materials opens the door for the academic press to create a new lead into student adoption of digital materials.

Stanford University is among several larger universities now offering digital book rentals to create more cost effective solutions for cash-strapped students while also helping to lead the transition into e-textbooks. The digital PDF versions of what universities might normally offer as spiral bound, computer-printed materials are available for a limited subscription period at a discounted price or flat fee. Despite the highly variable cost of an academic press e-book (from $10 to 75% of the cost of the actual textbook), students can gain quick access to needed materials for a portion of the price they would pay for the print version of the book.

Of the larger university publishers offering digital subscriptions, none have admitted to making much of a profit on their e-book subscriptions, however, they are quick to counter that the objective of their entrance into the digital book market is to introduce digital materials to students who are either unable to purchase a print version or are interested another viable option for course reading and studying.

As more universities offer digital course materials for rental, and students become comfortable with digital alternatives to print textbooks, university officials are hoping to pave the way to more widespread digital material adoption.

What is your history with digital course materials? Have you used a digital book from a university press to help you decide whether an e-textbook was right for you?

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