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Higher Education Faculty Members: Skeptical Innovators

July 1st, 2012 by CourseSmart

Faculty and Online Education, 2012

Faculty don’t dig online learning. So concludes the recently-published Inside Higher Ed article examining faculty attitudes about the quality of online learning. According to the Babson Survey Research Group, which conducted the surveys summarized in the article, a meager 6% of faculty members consider online learning outcomes to be superior to those achieved through face-to-face instruction.

Given the fact that my career depends almost entirely on faculty adoption of digital course materials, this is a troublesome statistic indeed. I suppose I should throw up my hands and move into a field with a more appreciative audience. However, I happen to quite like my job, so before I jump ship, I would like to reexamine the conclusions drawn by the study.

Maybe 6% isn’t so bad after all. Consider for a moment the history of that little device that we have all come to know and love: the iPad. In March of 2010, the world seemed to be humming along just fine. People toted around their behemoth six-pound personal computers, and waved off marketers’ attempts to interest them in the “tablet” models introduced by Microsoft in 2001. Despite bold predictions for immediate adoption, by 2007, only 1.2% of PC sales were from tablets.

Amusing skepticism dominated the press: Wired magazine quoted a reporter as saying, “My PDA annoys the hell out of me, but it fits in my pocket. I suspect the Tablet will annoy me just as much, and will also annoy me further when I have to lug its bulky butt around town.” And then, on April 3, 2010, Apple launched the iPad, and we all got on board.

Progress happens in fits and starts, and it is difficult to predict when the next revolution will occur. Before online learning becomes a truly accepted method of instruction, technology and training will need to make some serious headway. However, considering that only 1.2% of the population was interested in tablets before the iPad, 6% isn’t such a bad start for online learning, right?

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Evaluation Made Easy for Instructors

April 4th, 2012 by CourseSmart

Compare Side-By-Side eTextbooks

Compare Side-By-Side eTextbooks

Attention Instructors: Did you know that CourseSmart has a new Table of Contents side-by-side comparison feature? Long over are the days when you had to set two or more print textbooks side-by-side and compare TOC’s. CourseSmart makes comparison easy, by allowing you to pull up one etextbook from “Publisher A” alongside another etextbook from “Publisher B.” You can see in one view which order of information you prefer for your teaching methods, thus allowing you to make an informed etextbook decision for your class.
CourseSmart has over 20,000 digital etextbooks in our arsenal, and over 90% of the core textbooks used in Higher Education today. That means the liklihood that we have the eTextbook you’re looking for is quite high.
To use this feature, search for a textbook you’re interested in viewing. Then, click the “compare” button. Next, use the search button to locate a title to compare. The description for both books and the Table of Contents for both books are now side-by-side for you to see.
Making eTextbook adoption decisions has never been easier. To see this new feature in action, here’s a short YouTube video:

Video on Side-By-Side TOC Comparison


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CourseSmart Announces a Series of LMS Integrations to Improve Student and Faculty Access to Digital Course Materials

November 9th, 2011 by CourseSmart

CourseSmart®, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and other digital resources, has recently partnered with several educational software platforms with the aim of seamlessly integrating CourseSmart software with services already being used by many institutions in higher education. CourseSmart is a leader in the eTextbook industry and this is further made evident with the company’s new single sign-on feature made available with this new service.

  • CourseSmart® Makes It Easy To Access Digital Course Materials through Custom Integrations Demonstrating its commitment to providing low cost digital course materials to students, CourseSmart recently announced it is expanding access to low-cost course materials through customized learning management system (LMS) integrations. With the ability to integrate into LMS platforms already used in schools via CourseSmart’s new Learning Tool Interoperability technology, more students and faculty are able to gain access to CourseSmart’s low-cost eTextbooks and eResources options. Additionally, by integrating with these systems, student and faculty workflows are streamlined with single sign-on access to the world’s largest catalog of digital course materials.
  • CourseSmart® Launches Integration for the Blackboard Learn Platform CourseSmart recently announced the new Blackboard Building Block™ for the Blackboard Learn™ platform. This new platform has been designed to integrate into the technology ecosystems already in place on university campuses. The Blackboard Building Block, which is free to higher education institutions, provides educators the opportunity to seamlessly create and share homework and assignments with students. And with the new single sign-on feature, students can log into Blackboard and get access to their CourseSmart materials without needing to remember a second set of credentials for access.
  • CourseSmart® Integrates With Desire2Learn® Learning Management System CourseSmart most recently announced it is partnering with Desire2Learn, a provider of teaching and learning platforms, to offer end-to-end integration programs which provide students and faculty one-stop access to their digital course materials. For instructors, utilizing the CourseSmart/Desire2Learn integration means accessing CourseSmart materials quickly and easily through the Desire2Learn platform using one set of credentials. Additionally, the integration allows for the use of CourseSmart’s eTextbook services, such as copying and pasting, annotating, sharing, and printing, all within the Desire2Learn platform.

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CourseSmart® and Campus Technology to Host Panel on Digital Course Materials Programs within Higher Education Institutions

November 8th, 2011 by CourseSmart

CourseSmart®, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, and Campus Technology, a leading higher education technology publication, today announced details around their upcoming webinar, Making the Move to a Digital Campus: Best Practices and Pitfalls from the Front Lines, which will be held on November 10, 2011.

During the free, one-hour webinar, representatives from three institutions will share their unique experiences of adopting digital course materials on their campus, challenges encountered while integrating the technology and advice to colleges and universities considering a similar digital solution. Presenters include:

  • Dennis A. Trinkle, Ph.D., provost and chief academic officer at Harrison College

Moderated by Linda Briggs, contributing editor at Campus Technology, the panel will tackle key issues including faculty and student resistance to eTextbook programs as well as highlight the benefits each institution has experienced since adopting their digital course materials solution. Additional discussion includes how to:

  • Reduce costs up to 60% over traditional textbook and content delivery methods
  • Provide anytime, anywhere access to materials through any web-enabled mobile device
  • Meet adoption timeliness and transparency standards in course materials selection as stipulated in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)
  • Achieve greater ROI on existing campus platform investments
  • Provide faculty and students with instant and seamless access to course materials
  • Ensure the latest accessibility standard for students and faculty with disabilities

The webinar will be held Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET. To register for this free webinar, please visit And, don’t forget you can join the conversation on Twitter by following @CourseSmart_ and #edtechchat.

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Western Governors University Partners With CourseSmart® to Provide Students and Instructors With a Robust Digital Experience

October 5th, 2011 by CourseSmart

CourseSmart®, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, today announced a new relationship with Western Governors University (WGU), in which the university will integrate CourseSmart’s digital library into its online student portal, creating a comprehensive, single sign-on, platform where students and instructors can access their eTextbooks anytime, anywhere.WGU, a fully-accredited non-profit university with more than 26,000 students, began integrating CourseSmart’s eTextbooks into its online learning environment in April 2011. Significantly improving their workflow and overall learning experience, students are receiving direct access to the digital titles included in their courses through their existing WGU student portal accounts. Course mentors also have access to digital versions of current textbook offerings.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to improve our learning experience and make education more accessible to students by saving them time and reducing their costs,” said Margaret Korosec, manager of learning resources at WGU. “Integrating with CourseSmart allows us to streamline students’ access to their eTextbooks at the moment they need it, eliminating the need for students to purchase a hardcopy textbook, and greatly enhancing their ability to be academically successful.”

CourseSmart eTextbooks will be accessed online through the company’s newest reader platform and linked within the WGU online course of study to individual book chapters. This creates a guided learning environment that increases learning efficiency and also allows students to access features including the ability to annotate, bookmark, highlight, search, copy, paste, share and print within the eTextbook. Furthermore, the reader will offer the same reading experience when users are offline.

“As an entirely Web-based university, WGU has established an innovative model for online education that is not only affordable but widely accessible,” said Sean Devine, CEO at CourseSmart. “The WGU integration is an example of CourseSmart’s steadfast mission to continue expanding access to cost effective digital course materials. Additionally, we have integrated our 24-hour, 7-day support to address any questions from users, whether it be students, instructors or the institution.”

WGU has been recognized as a pioneer in the effort to make higher education more accessible and cost effective, winning the McGraw Prize in Education in 2010 and the Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education by the Sloan Consortium, an association of organizations engaged in online learning.

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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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ASU partners with CourseSmart bringing faculty access to digital course materials

March 17th, 2011 by CourseSmart

Integration with ASU’s Information Portal Speeds Materials Evaluation, Promotes Compliance with HEOA and Lowers Costs for Both the University and its Students

CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, today announced that Arizona State University (ASU) has adopted CourseSmart’s Faculty Instant Access program in support of ASU’s efforts to meet selection timeliness and transparency standards in course materials selection as stipulated in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). Through this secure information portal integration, ASU’s faculty now have real-time, on-demand access to CourseSmart’s entire catalogue of eTextbooks and digital resources, representing over 90% of core higher education textbooks in use today. Using CourseSmart’s Faculty Instant Access, ASU faculty can immediately review course materials to determine their appropriateness for course use without waiting for print copy delivery. Unlike print books, faculty can compare multiple versions of textbooks online using the features of the CourseSmart eTextbook Reader such as cross-book searching, note taking and highlighting. Furthermore, a custom-developed reader through its downloadable Mac and Windows version addresses the latest accessibility standards, ensuring that any users with vision-related disabilities may take advantage of the Faculty Instant Access program.

Significantly augmenting the course materials evaluation-to-selection process, which can be time consuming and costly due to print text shipping fees and wait times, ASU faculty members can now order any CourseSmart eTextbook via the university’s information portal, My ASU, and gain instant, free access to an unlimited number of materials for review. Students can then purchase the selected eTextbook(s) or other digital course material, such as a study guide, through CourseSmart at up to 60% off the price of traditional print texts. Both faculty and students can access CourseSmart’s eTextbooks from any computer, laptop, browser-based mobile device, as well as the free CourseSmart iPhone or iPad apps, available here:

“Streamlining the materials review process for ASU’s faculty and ensuring full compliance with HEOA is a priority for ASU,” said Leah Lommel, senior director of development, Arizona State University. “The instant access program provides our faculty with versatile options to review course materials. Moving to more electronic materials is a more sustainable option versus receiving hard copy materials for selection.”

“Establishing seamless integration for faculty instant access has transformed institutions’ potential for working with digital course materials. With the ability to evaluate innumerable eTextbooks and eResources in the cloud, the overall selection process timeline has diminished drastically,” said Sean Devine, chief executive officer, CourseSmart.  

CourseSmart’s advanced integration capabilities leverage IMS Global Learning Consortium’s compliance standards to provide ASU with secure, yet flexible cloud-based access to the largest selection of eTextbooks and digital course materials available on the market. Last year, CourseSmart became the first eTextbook provider to receive “Basic LTI v1.0 Compliant” status from IMS, creating ease of integration into campus systems such as the LMSs and SISs. Institutions are able to integrate the CourseSmart catalog into faculty workflows with a minimal level of effort.

CourseSmart boasts the world’s largest catalogue of digital course materials, as well as the following eTextbook benefits:  

  • Anytime, anywhere access to materials via or through various mobile devices and tablets, including the iPhone and iPad;
  • Search function for topics within a single book or across an entire eTextbook stack;
  • Highlighting and note-taking capabilities within the eTextbook, which can be easily recalled or searched;
  • Page fidelity and preservation, mirroring the print edition’s page numbers, full text, diagrams, illustrations and charts;
  • Ability to cut and paste as well as email sections, notes and highlighted text;
  • The choice to print only what one needs;
  • Savings of up to 60% for students; and
  • 80% of CourseSmart’s top selling titles have been optimized to be more accessible for students and instructors with print-related disabilities.


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How one instructor introduces CourseSmart eTextbook to her class

December 14th, 2009 by CourseSmart

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