Many university providers and educators around the world have embraced digital course materials in order to supplement existing course materials. Many now aim to go beyond merely distributing PDF notes or making lectures available online and use platforms like the iPad to teach medicine in new ways.
CourseSmart, a venture founded in 2007 and supported by many leading publishers, aims to provide eTextbooks and digital learning tools to students across America. CourseSmart is one of the largest provider of digital course materials and their catalog includes over 90% of the core textbooks in use today by North American Universities.
CourseSmart’s business model is based around providing easy, instant access to a vast range of texts. They have signed up an impressive number of publishers including Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons, Macmillan, Lippincott, Wilkins & Williams amongst many others. A quick search of their medical section revealed over 190 texts purely in the medicine category.
It is straightforward to search for and add a text to your ‘cart’ which subsequently becomes your ‘bookshelf’ once you have paid for your book. Interestingly, CourseSmart works on an annual rental basis so the user is essentially paying for one years worth of access to a specific title.
The additional eResources provide a variety of digital content and tools created for the end user and include:
- Links to other websites for content associated with a particular course
- Online quizzes or exercises
- Simulations and online videos
CourseSmart also partners with institutions to try and integrate their digital materials into the specific course, “thereby improving productivity and performance for students and instructors alike.” Students can access the eTextbooks via the web or on a range of mobile devices such as the iPad, iPhone and Android. The web reader boasts an impressive interface including the ability to annotate, highlight, search, copy, share and print.
The actual eTextbooks are high quality scans of the original books and easy to navigate. One aspect which is useful is the fact that CourseSmart eTextbooks maintain the valuable aspects of the print textbook including page numbers and page layout thus enabling students to quickly and easily switch between physical and electronic versions. Student are also likely to be pleased with the monetary savings available due to the fact that CourseSmart tests cost on average, 60% less than a printed textbook (source).
CourseSmart has certainly put their stamp on the particularly exciting development of online textbooks and resources. The wide range of medical textbooks available and ease of accessibility are sure to help ensure CourseSmart become a popular resource for both students and educators. CourseSmart enables instructors to be more productive and facilitates instant access to essential learning materials for students.
Stay tuned for a review of the CourseSmart system in action, an interview and a comparison between CourseSmart and their competitors.