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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. 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 part of the eTextbook initiative, courses may use eBooks licensed through the library, 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. Currently 36 library eBooks are used as course textbooks.

Franklin University has also signed agreements with the top four publishers to lower the cost of eTextbooks to students. These eTextbooks, available through VitalSource, provide students with additional features at no extra cost (such as integration with our Learning Management System, access on up to four devices, and the ability to drop a course within 30 days and not be charged for the eTextbook).

The majority of Franklin University’s courses are expected to have their course texts transitioned to the eTextbook initiative by the end of 2019.

  • 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 250 courses have been converted to eTextbooks as of the Fall, 2018 term, with a mix of library and Vitalsource eTexts.
    • 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 eText 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