2011 has been a great year for tech innovation at IU. IU’s groundbreaking eTexts Initiative is one example.
Two individuals are integral to this initiative: Indianapolis-based entrepreneur Mickey Levitan and IU Kelley School professor Alan Dennis. Their innovation is the Courseload software, an application that allows for integrating electronic books and course materials into the mainstream academic curriculum. I’ve nominated Levitan and Dennis as “Top Technology Innovators in Higher Education” at the Chronicle of Higher Education blogs. I urge you to do the same.
Dr. Dennis, a professor of information systems, recently completed a two-year study of e-texts involving 1700 students in 22 classes at IU. Dennis’s research found that, if offered on the right kind of platform, most students preferred e-books to paper books. Students prefer them because they’re lighter, cheaper, more sustainable, and they enhance the learning experience.
But innovation takes persistence. Dennis and Levitan foresaw the appeal of electronic media over a decade ago. When they launched Courseload in 2000, they were ahead of their time. Electronic books had yet to mature. As visionaries, they wanted to accelerate the use of digital course materials, lower the cost of textbooks for students, and to improve student outcomes. They’ve done all three.
Courseload integrates directly with Oncourse, IU’s Sakai-based learning management system. The Courseload app allows students to tag digital content, perform searches, collaborate as a study group, and view multimedia on any computer or mobile device. Faculty can add notes, links, and annotations to students’ e-texts, and faculty can use Courseload to gather data on how students are using course materials, data that can be used to fine-tune teaching approaches.
Great work at IU in 2011!