Ebook trials under evaluation

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Board discussion on issue pushed from fall to February.

By Katherine Garcia

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

A task force on instructional materials will be assembled to determine whether to consider ebooks or open-source materials for all colleges in the district, Dr. Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor of academic success, said Tuesday.

She said in a telephone interview that the task force will study ways to provide more free open-source materials and evaluate feedback from a pilot program in the spring semester.

Fabianke said the task force will be composed of at least two faculty members per college and at least one vice president. She will lead the group.

The original instructional materials pilot at this college required students in the five developmental courses to use ebooks. The cost was included in students’ tuition and fees.

The courses are MATH 0055, Math Refresher; MATH 0220, Developmental Algebra II; MATH 0305, Pre-Algebra; MATH 0310, Elementary Algebra; and MATH 0420, Developmental Algebra I.

Said Fariabi, math and computer science chair, said the ebook trial was beneficial to his students.

“It was great,” he said. “We did not have any complaints. All students (had) access to ebooks and software on the first day of class.”

He said the cost of the ebook and software, a total of $69, was less than the $95 hardcover textbook previously required.

This fall, district officials had expected to present to Alamo Colleges trustees a plan for all district colleges to use e-books for developmental courses if the test proved successful, Fabianke said.

Instead, the task force will review the trial results and also consider any open-source.

Fabianke said these free online resources will be compiled into a website for use by all faculty.

Fabianke said the issue will not be bought up to the board until February.

The proposal — which approved one ebook per course across the district — was approved during a Jan 21, 2014, regular board meeting.

The approval sparked protests by students and faculty. After a semester of petitions and protests at board meetings, Chancellor Bruce Leslie sent an email July 1, 2014, stating district officials would postpone implementing the instructional materials proposal as well as adding EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, to the core curriculum.

The board had planned to add EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, to replace one of two humanities courses in the college core in fall 2014.

The course uses “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Principle-Centered Leadership” by Stephen Covey.

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