Book-free classes

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Today, area high schools hand out Chromebooks and iPads to students as often as they hand out the traditional dog-eared textbooks. The majority of BSC students soon will be more at ease with online learning than with hardcover textbooks and paper handouts. But, for now, BSC students are a hybrid of new- and old- school learning preferences. So BSC offers both, and more, always with an eye toward saving students money.

Tammy Staudinger, BSC Bookstore textbook associate, says the cost of traditional textbooks has risen 30 percent over eight years or about 5-7 percent annually. To help students save, “We give students every possible option – used, new, rental, and a cost comparison tool that lets them buy directly from Amazon.”

The bookstore also provides the codes needed to pay for electronic books (or e-books) when assigned. E-books are usually half the cost of a traditional textbook.

At BSC the focus is to “create an environment that supports learning, regardless of the format of the learning materials available within the class,” according Dan Leingang, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Ultimately, BSC looks to faculty to maintain quality instruction with an eye to being flexible.”

Brent Reems, associate professor of Chemistry, uses e-books in his classes, but says his students generally don’t like them. “They want the hardcover.” And Reems says they’ll pay to get it.

Staudinger says the same. “We get a lot of students who want to get the book.”

And at the other end of the spectrum are students with no interest in the book.

Kevin Cavanagh, associate professor of Management, assigns only open educational resources (OERs) in his classes.

He says he’s never had a complaint and students like not having to pay for the books.
Cavanagh uses the OERs as supplements to his lesson plans. “I don’t give them a lot of specifics in my assignments. I’ll tell them to design an affiliate marketing program, for instance. In order to do that they need to look at the [OER] or Google it.”

“The point of OERs is to replace a textbook with something that is free,” says Tanya Spilovoy, Ed.D., director of distance education and state authorization for the North Dakota University System.

It all comes down to meeting students where they are Leingang notes.

“Successful teaching within the 21st century educational environment requires faculty members to have a flexibility to be agile enough to adjust to the needs of the students within their classroom, even if those needs change from semester to semester.”