How Much Do College Students Actually Pay For Textbooks?

With all of the talk about the unreasonably high price of college textbooks, the unfulfilled potential of open educational resources (OER), and student difficulty in paying for course materials, it is surprising how little is understood about student textbook expenses. The following two quotes illustrate the most common problem.

Atlantic: “According to a recent College Board report, university students typically spend as much as $1,200 a year total on textbooks.”

US News: “In a survey of more than 2,000 college students in 33 states and 156 different campuses, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found the average student spends as much as $1,200 each year on textbooks and supplies alone.”

While I am entirely sympathetic to the need and desire to lower textbook and course material prices for students, no one is served well by misleading information, and this information is misleading. Let’s look at the actual sources of data and what that data tells us, focusing on the aggregate measures of changes in average textbook pricing in the US and average student expenditures on textbooks. What the data tells us is that the answer is that students spend on average $600 per year on textbooks, not $1,200.

First, however, let’s address the all-too-common College Board reference. Continue reading

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Austin Community College’s ACCelerator: Big bet on emporium approach with no pilots

While at SXSWedu, I was able to visit Austin Community College’s ACCelerator lab, which got a fair bit of publicity over the past month. While the centerpiece of ACCelerator usage is for developental math, the 600+ workstation facility spread over 32,000 square feet also supports Tutoring in a variety of subjectsFirst year experienceGroup advisingAcademic CoachingAdult EducationContinuing EducationCollege readiness assessment preparation, and Student skills workshops.

ACCelerator

But it is the developmental math course that has received the most coverage.

Austin Community College welcomed second lady Dr. Jill Biden and Under Secretary of Education Dr. Ted Mitchell on Monday, March 9, to tour the Highland Campus’ ACCelerator and meet with students and faculty of the college’s new developmental math course, MATD 0421. [snip]

“I teach a lot of developmental students,” says Dr. Biden. “The one stumbling block does seem to be math and math anxiety and ‘Can I do it?’. This (course) seems to be so empowering and so positive. Students can see immediate success.”

Continue reading

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Our Policy on Cookies and Tracking

In the wake of the Pearson social media monitoring controversy, edubloggers like Audrey Watters and D’arcy Norman have announced their policies regarding code that can potentially track users on their blogs. This is a good idea, so we are following their example.

We use Google Analytics and WordPress analytics on both e-Literate and e-Literate TV. The main reason we do so is that we believe the information these packages provide help us create more useful content. Even after a decade of blogging, we are still surprised sometimes by which posts earn your attention and which ones don’t. We look at our analytics results fairly regularly to see what we can learn about writing more content that you find to be worth your time. This is by no means the only or even the main way that we decide what we will write, but we think of it as one of relatively few clues we have to understand to which posts and topics will have the most value to you. We do not run ads and have no intention of doing so in the future. In the case of e-Literate TV, where the content is expensive to make, we may also use information regarding the number of viewers of the episodes in the future to demonstrate to sponsors that our content is having an impact. We make no effort to track individuals and, in fact, have always had a policy of letting our readers comment on posts without registering on the site. But Google in particular is likely making more extensive use of the usage data that they gather.

In addition to the two analytics packages mentioned above, we do embed YouTube videos and use social media buttons, which may carry their own tracking code with them from the companies that supply them. Unfortunately, this is just part of the deal with embedding YouTube videos or adding convenient “Tweet this” links. The tracking code (which usually, but not always, means the same thing as “cookies”) on our site is pretty typical for what you will find for any site that provides these sorts of conveniences.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to allow yourself to be tracked if you prefer not to be. There are a number of excellent anti-tracking plugins available for the mainstream browsers, including Ghostery and Disconnect. If you are concerned about being tracked (here or anywhere), then we recommend installing one or more of these plugins, and we also recommend spending a little time to learn how they work and what sorts of tracking code are embedded on the different sites you visit so that you can make informed and fine-grained decisions about what information you do and do not want to share. These tools often let you make service-by-service and site-by-site decisions, but they generally start with the default of protecting your privacy by blocking everything.

To sum up and clarify our privacy policies:

  • We do use Google Analytics and WordPress analytics.
  • We do embed social media tools that in some cases carry their own tracking code.
  • We do not make any effort to track individuals on our sites.
  • We do not use or plan to use analytics for ads or in any way sell the information from our analytics to third parties, including but not limited to ads.
  • We may in the future provide high-level summaries of site traffic and video views to e-Literate TV sponsors.
  • We do support commenting on blog posts without registration.[1]
  • We do provide our full posts in our RSS feed, which excludes most (but not all) tracking code.
  • We do provide CC-BY licensing on our content so that it can be used on other sites, including ones that do not have any tracking code .
  1. Note: We do require an email address from commenters for the sole purpose of providing us with a means of contacting the poster in the event that the person has written something uncivil or marginally inappropriate and we need to discuss the matter with that person privately before deciding what to do about moderation. In the 10-year history of e-Literate, this has happened about three or four times. There are two differences relevant to reader privacy between requiring the email address and requiring registration. First, we allow people to use multiple email addresses or even temporary email addresses if they do not wish that email to be personally identifiable. We only require that the email address be a working address. Second and probably more importantly, without registration, there is no mechanism to link comments to browsing behavior on the site. []
Posted in About This Site | 3 Comments

Back To The Future: Looking at LMS forecasts from 2011 – 2014

At today’s Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2015 conference (#LAK15), Charles Severance (aka Dr. Chuck) gave the morning keynote organized around the theme of going back in time to see what people (myself and Richard Katz primarily) were forecasting for education. By looking at the reality of 2015, we can see which forecasts were on track and which were not. I like this concept, as it is useful to go back and see what we got right and wrong, so this post is meant to provide some additional context particularly for LMS market. Chuck’s keynote also gives cover for doing so without seeming too self-absorbed.

But enough about me. What do you think about me?

I use the term forecast since I tend to describe patterns and trends and then try to describe the implications. This is different than the Katz video which aimed to make specific predictions as a thought-provoking device.

Pre-2011

I introduced the LMS squid diagram in 2008 as a tool to help people see the LMS market holistically rather than focusing on detailed features. Too much of campus evaluations then (and even now) missed the big picture that there were only a handful of vendors and some significant market dynamics at play.

A 2009 presentation, by the way, was the basis for Michael and me connecting for the first time. Bromance. Continue reading

Posted in Higher Education, LMOS, Openness, Tools, Toys, and Technology (Oh my!) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blackboard Brain Drain: One third of executive team leaves in past 3 months

In August 2013 Michael described Ray Henderson’s departure from an operational role at Blackboard. As of the end of 2014, Ray is no longer on the board of directors at Blackboard either. He is focusing on his board activity (including In The Telling, our partner for e-Literate TV) and helping with other ed tech companies. While Ray’s departure from the board did not come as a surprise to me, I have been noting the surprising number of other high-level departures from Blackboard recently.

As of December 24, 2014, Blackboard listed 12 company executives in their About > Leadership page. Of those 12 people, 4 have left the company since early January. Below is the list of the leadership team at that time along with notes on changes:

  • Jay Bhatt, CEO
  • Maurice Heiblum, SVP Higher Education, Corporate And Government Markets (DEPARTED February, new job unlisted)
  • Mark Belles, SVP K-12 (DEPARTED March, now President & COO at Teaching Strategies, LLC)
  • David Marr, SVP Transact
  • Matthew Small, SVP & Managing Director, International
  • Gary Lang, SVP Product Development, Support And Cloud Services (DEPARTED January, now VP B2B Technology, Amazon Supply)
  • Katie Blot, SVP Educational Services (now SVP Corporate Strategy & Business Development)
  • Mark Strassman, SVP Industry and Product Management
  • Bill Davis, CFO
  • Michael Bisignano, SVP General Counsel, Secretary (DEPARTED February, now EVP & General Counsel at CA Technologies)
  • Denise Haselhorst, SVP Human Resources
  • Tracey Stout, SVP Marketing

Continue reading

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