NVC faculty question cost of instructional materials

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Each college selects three text options by end of today

By Cassandra M. Rodriguez

Members of Northwest Vista College’s Faculty Senate questioned Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, this morning about the cost of ebooks the district will begin requiring in the fall.

The board of trustees approved a proposal by Chancellor Bruce Leslie to require a single set of instructional materials in the form of ebooks for courses at all five colleges at the Jan. 21 board meeting.

The new policy also will require students to pay for materials in their tuition.

Viviane Marioneaux, Faculty Senate president and digital media coordinator, said the biggest concern is implementation of instructional materials and making sure everyone is on the same page.

“The board of trustees is interested in students paying a little as possible,” Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, told the group of about 25 faculty.

“Research says 30 percent of students don’t buy textbooks,” Fabianke said, explaining students will avoid classes with high textbook costs.

The district has selected 30 courses with the highest enrollment to be the first courses required to use ebooks. The 30 courses include one course from each component in the core curriculum, Fabianke said.

From the 30, implementation will begin with 15 core curriculum courses in fall 2014.

On Feb. 12, each college was asked to select three textbook options by the end of today for each course.

“That’s 15 sets of materials that we have to work with from five colleges,” Fabianke said.

The cost of the materials will automatically be included with students’ tuition.

“The cost of the materials will be attached to the course. The idea here is that every student will have their materials on the first day of class,” Fabianke said.

“It will say when students register, there is an instructional materials cost with this course,” Fabianke said.

“Can we opt out with open source?” Marioneaux asked.

The board and Leslie will allow faculty to use open source, Fabianke said.

However, Fabianke referred to another meeting in which college presidents thought it should be a department’s decision if open source is used, not individual faculty.

Presidents will determine later if individual faculty can opt out, but whether students enrolled in those faculty members’ sections still would be charged for an ebook has not been decided.

Faculty also were concerned with the cost the instructional materials will pose for students.

“If they fail or drop the class, will they have to pay again? That doesn’t make sense,” Terri Dimas, program coordinator for personal fitness and training, said.

Students will get a full refund if they drop before the census date, Fabianke said. After the census date, students will not receive a refund.

Students have the option to purchase a loose-leaf version of the text at the campus bookstore for a nominal fee of $10-$15 in addition to the ebook cost paid with tuition, Fabianke said.

“We’ve got to start now to make sure it will work,” Fabianke said.

Registration for fall begins April 7.

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