textbooks (and more) online

NYU College of Dentistry Takes Textbooks Online
The article discusses NYU Dentistry’s partnership with VitalSource/Bookshelf to put course materials online. The concept is one that has long been touted (by tech promoters), anticipated (by students tired of lugging glossy 20 pound textbooks) and resisted (by several groups). This adds to the “textbooks online” idea by making available other materials, access to online databases, and linking it all from with BlackBoard.
Of special interest to me are these paragraphs from the above-linked article:
“The materials are submitted yearly to a company called VitalSource Technologies, which creates online versions of the content for the college in its Bookshelf product. The electronic textbooks are complete with hypertext links to references and the ability to search, print, highlight, organize, and add “sticky” notes.
Students are also given, through VitalSource, access to the NYU College of Dentistry library, and to other faculty-reviewed and -approved items.
Over the last seven years of working with VitalSource, the College of Dentistry, located in the heart of New York City, has created a vast digital library of textbooks, papers, lectures, and other internal and externally produced scholarly reference materials, all available to its students and faculty through VitalSource. For reference, a graduating student retains access to content that was current during his or her final year of school.”
“As use of the Internet has evolved, so has student use of Bookshelf, according to Leila Jahangiri, chair of the Department of Prosthodontics at NYU. “Students’ experience with computers is changing,” she said. When the e-textbook program was first introduced, printing out material to read, study, highlight, and retain was much more common. Today, she said she sees little of that. “Students are now accessing all their course materials on Bookshelf.” Faculty members, she said, now tend to be the ones printing out content much more often than students. . . The easy access to online materials helps counter students’ tendencies to go online to the general Internet for every answer, Jahangiri said.”
“At the beginning of the academic year, Jahangiri explained, every department in the College of Dentistry submits books or other content they would like to see added to VitalSource. The college began the program originally with textbooks only, but over time has gradually added faculty lecture materials, PowerPoint presentations, PDF documents, manuals, selected educational sites, and online access through VitalSource to the Waldmann Dental Library at NYU.
“Students who need to access electronic journals and various other materials that are in the library … can just go online and click,” Jahangiri said, to access materials through the VitalSource platform.
Students can download those textbooks they need and use regularly; to save space, others can simply be accessed online as needed. Essentially, students and faculty can create their own personal bookshelves each academic year, downloading the basic books required, along with other materials they might use often.”
And they have integrated it with BlackBoard:
“The College of Dentistry uses Blackboard as its course management system; each course offered by the college has a Blackboard-created page with the course syllabus, then links to information that can be found in Bookshelf. A syllabus line describing a Monday lecture can contain a link directly to the chapter that will be referenced, along with the PowerPoint presentation itself and other internally produced material, all stored in Bookshelf.”
“Copyright is not a problem; VitalSource secures a copyright that allows unlimited use of material for academic purposes.”

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