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Affordable Learning Ohio

Franklin University’s Affordable Learning Initiatives

Franklin UniversityRecognizing the importance of affordability in education, in 2017 Franklin University implemented its eTextbook initiative. The goal of the eTextbook initiative is to provide students with online access to textbooks, and to lower textbook costs.

As part of the eTextbook initiative, courses may use eBooks licensed through the library, or open educational resources, which are available to students at no cost. Librarians work with faculty and course designers to identify titles which the library can purchase for use in courses, or which are available for use under an open license. Franklin University currently uses 179 library ebooks and 28 OER or other external free ebooks as textbooks in courses.

Franklin University provides eTextbooks through VitalSource which provide students with additional features at no extra cost (such as integration with our Learning Management System, and access on up to four devices). This is important not only for the affordability of education for our students, but for accessibility as our students are distributed across the globe with our online programs.

As of Fall 2019, 87% of Franklin University’s courses have had their course texts transitioned to the eTextbook initiative.

  • Alternative Textbook Programs: When courses are being created/redesigned, librarians will work with faculty and course designers to identify alternatives to textbooks which are available through the library to students at no charge. These alternatives include articles/eBooks available through library databases or open access resources.
    Faculty/course designers identify areas where they need resources to replace (or take the place of) textbooks. They then consult with a member of the library’s staff (either in person, by email, or through submitting a research consultation form) to inform the library of these topics. Librarians then conduct research and provide their findings to the faculty / instructional designer who will review them and choose what library eResources to include in the class.
  • Advocacy: Members of the library have made the instructional design team aware of these library services. Additionally, liaison librarians have made their faculty aware of the library’s ability to conduct research projects to identify library materials which can be used to replace textbooks.
  • Assessment: We have been assessing how we’ve done with this initiative through surveys, focus groups, and keeping an eye on “opt-out rates” (students who choose to opt out of VitalSource eTextbooks, preferring a print text).
    • Over 350 courses have been converted to the eTextbook program as of the Fall 2019 term.
    • 83% of student survey respondents reported having utilized eTextbooks in their courses, and most focus group participants shared similarly.
    • 76% of those reporting eTextbook experiences expressed satisfaction with eTextbooks, but the initiative received mixed reviews in both the survey open-text feedback and the focus group.
    • Some students were very positive about their eTextbook related experiences and others expressed a clear preference for physical textbooks.
    • Staff also reported mixed feedback on eTextbooks, noting the convenience and ease of access as positives, but that some eTextbook related processes are still confusing and cumbersome for students.
Contact Information: Marc Jaffy, Acquisitions Librarian, Franklin University Library,, (614) 947-6561