The worst part of being a college student? Pricey learning materials... they make even Ramen noodles a fancy meal. This fall, students at California State University will be at least be able to make a step up to fast food. CSU has announced a three-year deal with Nature Publishing Group for low-cost, interactive, web-based textbooks with access options for disabled students. The first to be offered is an introductory biology text, fittingly titled Principles of Biology. Students on the L.A., Northridge, and Chico campuses will each have varying payment and licensing models, but 49 bucks gets anyone a full edition starting September 1st. Professors can edit the content, which includes 175 "interactive lessons," access to a database of research papers, and assessments for students. It can all be used on any device from a slate to a computer and even printed if you prefer scribing your notes with pen and paper or won't be near an internet connection. Details are dry about future books using the system, but it looks like a promising break for college students. Still, before you get ready to ditch your books and backpack for more money and less backaches, we'd suggest skimming the press release after the break.
California State University and Nature Publishing Group Partner to Support NPG's Development of Affordable Interactive Textbooks in Biology
Cambridge, Massachusetts – California State University (CSU) and Nature Publishing Group (NPG) today announced a three-year partnership to support design and development by NPG of a series of affordable, high quality interactive textbooks in college-level science. The "born digital" textbooks will be used initially at CSU campuses but will be available to other universities from September 2011.
The first interactive textbook in the program, Principles of Biology, will be used as the primary learning solution for the introductory biology course at CSUs Los Angeles, Northridge, and Chico campuses for the 2011/2012 academic year. Principles of Biology is being developed by a team of scientists and instructors led by NPG's editors, with guidance from a team of faculty advisors at the three CSU campuses. As a "born digital" product, Principles of Biology will be accessible to students and instructors via web browsers on desktops, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones, and will retail at $49 per student. Students will have the rights to self-print a color copy of the textbook. Principles of Biology uses more than 175 interactive lessons and continual assessment to help students master basic concepts, and draws on the Nature journals' extensive archive of research papers to cultivate mature scientific skills, including data analysis and critical thinking. Further titles in life and physical sciences will be launched by NPG, with consulting and adoption by CSU faculty, over a three-year period.
Gerry Hanley, Senior Director for Academic Technology Services at the CSU, Office of the Chancellor, said: "Our partnership with NPG is intended not just to develop a new kind of textbook, but to transform the traditional relationship between universities and textbook publishers. The CSU and NPG have interacted from the outset, not as producer and consumer, but as partners jointly designing a publishing model that satisfies the long-term needs of both kinds of organizations. The resulting set of product features, pricing, rights and permissions, and distribution options is an ideal foundation for academic institutions moving forward and a considerable advance over traditional models. We are delighted that a publisher of NPG's exceptional quality and reputation reached out to us to work on this significant project. Our faculty are excited to begin using NPG's high quality resources with their students this fall."
Vikram Savkar, Senior Vice President & Publishing Director at NPG, said: "CSU's strong leadership in educational innovation, demonstrated by their willingness to dedicate hundreds of hours faculty guidance throughout the advisory phase and work closely with us to design an affordable, sustainable publishing model, has been essential to our ability to launch this program. CSU also plays a significant role in training California's science, technology engineering and math (STEM) teachers, with nearly two-thirds of the state's K-12 science teachers educated at a CSU campus. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with CSU in the coming years to make a positive impact on the California science outlook and to make new textbook product models available to all academic institutions."
CSU campuses will be licensing NPG's Principles of Biology textbook for academic year 2011/2012 in three different modes. CSU's Los Angeles campus has opted for a site license, enabling automatic online access to the materials by all students enrolled at CSULA. At CSU's Chico campus, students will receive individual access, arranged through the campus bookstore. CSU Northridge is using the resource in its distance education class; students will purchase access online. Instructors will be able to customize the textbook before adoption and share modified versions of the material with their students during the semester. All materials will natively support accessibility by disabled students. Hanley said: "CSU particularly appreciates the flexibility that NPG's new publishing model offers institutions. The site license model, for example, makes high quality educational resources available to all of our students regardless of their personal ability to pay, removing the barriers that too often push students to make decisions about class materials based on their budget. It further strengthens the institution's role as a provider of tools that empower students to achieve their educational goals." Savkar added: "In an increasingly demand-driven education market, it's crucial not only for educational content itself, but also for the distribution model for that content, to be able to meet a range of customer needs. We look forward to working with institutions to expand the model that we have initiated this year with our founding partner CSU."
Principles of Biology will be available to the general market on September 1, 2011. For more information, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.nature.com/nature_education/biology.html" www.nature.com/nature_education/biology.html.
About the California State University The HYPERLINK "http://www.calstate.edu" California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 412,000 students year round and 43,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded nearly 2.5 million degrees, about 90,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. A HYPERLINK "http://www.calstate.edu/impact" recent economic report found that the CSU supports more than 150,000 jobs statewide, annually. The engine driving job creation is more than $17 billion in economic activity that directly results from CSU-related spending that generates $5.43 for every dollar the state invests. The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California.
Nature Education, the educational division of Nature Publishing Group and publisher of Principles of Biology, is devoted to facilitating high quality, innovative, accessible science education in all countries of the world. More information at www.nature.com/nature_education
Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences and clinical medicine.
Throughout all its businesses NPG is dedicated to serving the scientific and medical communities and the wider scientifically interested general public. Part of Macmillan Publishers Limited, NPG is a global company with principal offices in London, New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide. For more information, please go to HYPERLINK "http://www.nature.com/" www.nature.com.