Main Nav

Policy Issues for eText Adoption in Higher Education

EDUCAUSE and Internet2 have initiated an eText Pilot Series in an effort to learn more about the promises of eContent and to influence evolving business models.  During a recent presentation at the Coalition for Networked Information Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C., the EDUCAUSE Policy staff described "What We're Learning from eTexts" and explored some of the policy issues as we transition from print to digital textbooks.  Below are a few highlights:

Affordability - given the present concern about the cost of higher education and the rising costs of textbooks, eTexts have the potential to address this important policy challenge for institutions who are looking for ways to increase efficiency and improve effectiveness.

Broadband - since access to eContent and eText are dependent on network connectivity (both wired and wireless) we must ensure that broadband is available to underrepresented populations and in rural areas, that we do not create a digital divide, and we ensure that there is network neutrality so that there is no discrimination or preference given to network content.

Information Policy - the transition from an "ownership" model to a "rent or lease" model (patterned on "software licensing") changes the nature of how copyright law might apply and underscores the importance of fair licensing terms and conditions.  Digital Rights Management (DRM) and long-term preservation of content is also a concern for digital materials.

Accessibility - institutions must ensure that educational content and technologies are accessible to persons with disabilities; the technologies used as part of the platform provider or eReader must not disadvantage students who are visually impaired or other disabilities.

Privacy - eText allow for greater learning analytics than possible in a print-only world and there must be corresponding attention to the privacy implications of data gathering and use; similarly, the data held by third parties must be adequately protected and available to the institution and the student.

Security - the devices, operating systems, applications, and networks must remain secure and available for access to eContent.  Students will want to access eContent on the device of their choice which makes the security of a "bring your own device" (BYOD) environment all the more important.

Identity Management - eText should be integrated with existing systems (e.g., Learning Management Systems) whenenver possible to enable Single Sign On or should leverage federated identity management as the method of access.

EDUCAUSE Policy plans to continue to explore and address the policy issues of eTexts in 2013 and invite your opinions and comments.  Please contact Rodney Petersen, Joan Cheverie, or Jarret Cummings.

Tags from the EDUCAUSE Library