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November 2005
Volume 6, Number 11
inside this issue
Richland College Among Six Organizations to Receive 2005 Presidential Award for Quality and Performance Excellence
Sinclair President Honored by Iowa State University
HP Announces 2006 HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative
Clearly Quotable
Capella University Awards Fourth League for Innovation Doctoral Scholarship

news and events
Making the Grade: A Report on the Success of MyMathLab in Higher Education Math Instruction
Sinclair Student Success Plan Wins Second National Award
Survey of Instructor Perceptions and Use of Online Technologies in Teaching
inside the league
Conference on Information Technology
iStream - November Updates
League Services is Pleased to Announce New Topics
College and Career Transitions Initiative (CCTI) Network Expansion Gains Momentum!

member spotlight
Media Literacy Project
Bronx Community College
Bronx, New York
Building a Better Textbook: The New Co-Publishing Model in Computer Science and IT Learning

League Connections wants to hear about your innovations! Share your college's best practices, publish events, and catalyze ideas with thousands of readers in your field by contacting League Connections today!
Deadline for submissions for the January 2006 issue of League Connections is December13, 2005.
Print League Connections

Richland College Among Six Organizations to Receive 2005 Presidential Award for Quality and Performance Excellence

President George W. Bush and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez today announced six organizations as recipients of the 2005 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor for quality and organizational performance excellence.

The 2005 Baldrige Award recipients are: Sunny Fresh Foods, Inc., Monticello, Minnesota (manufacturing); DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations, New Orleans, Louisiana (service); Park Place Lexus, Plano, Texas (small business); Richland College, Dallas, Texas (education); Jenks Public Schools, Jenks, Oklahoma (education); and Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo, Michigan (health care).

This is the first time that a community college, an automotive dealership, and an oil industry business have been named as Baldrige Award recipients. Sunny Fresh Foods is a two-time Baldrige Award recipient; it received the award in the small business category in 1999. Baldrige Award recipients can reapply after five years.

“President Bush and I proudly announce these organizations as recipients of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award,” said Secretary Gutierrez. “By pursuing excellence in every aspect of their operations, the men and women of these innovative, high-performing organizations have proven ready to meet the competitive challenges of the future. The recipients of the Baldrige Award provide inspiration for all U.S. organizations in their quest for excellence,” he said.

The 2005 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from among 64 applicants. All six recipients were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; human resource focus; process management; and results. The evaluation process included about 1,000 hours of review and an onsite visit by teams of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the applications.

“This recognition is significant to the award recipients, because they understand the rigor and objectivity of the Baldrige Award evaluation. Each step of the award process is structured to continually refine the board of examiners’ depth of knowledge and understanding of the applicants’ performance excellence system, ensuring that only the most outstanding applicants are recognized and that all applicants receive objective feedback for improvement,” said Roy Bauer, chair of the Baldrige Award panel of judges and President and Chief Operating Officer, Pemstar Inc.

The 2005 Baldrige Award recipients are expected to be presented with the Baldrige Award in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., early next year.

Named after the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses, and was expanded in 1998 to include education and health care. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the quality and performance achievements of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award may be presented to five types of organizations: manufacturers, service companies, small businesses, education organizations and health care organizations. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 68 Baldrige Awards have been presented to 64 organizations.

The Baldrige program is managed by NIST in conjunction with the private sector. As a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

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Sinclair President Honored by Iowa State University


Steven Lee Johnson, President of Sinclair Community College and League Board Member, has been named the Virgil S. Lagomarcino Laureate of 2005 by Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU). The annual award is the highest honor bestowed by the faculty and dean of the ISU College of Human Sciences to graduates who have distinguished themselves in a career of educational leadership. Johnson received his master's degree in higher education administration at ISU in 1986.

During the award ceremony October 21, Johnson's career was characterized as being focused on the college education of underserved citizens and nontraditional college students. Career accomplishments cited in presentation of the award included his work in the Dallas Community College System, the St. Petersburg Community College System, and  Sinclair. Also noted were his publications supporting community college education, his two appearances serving as an expert witness to the U.S. Congress on community college issues, his standing as a distinguished graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, and his work to develop and support national initiatives to improve community college education.

The Virgil S. Lagomarcino Laureate was established by ISU in 1975 to recognize prestigious service, educational leadership, and personal commitment to education and to the profession of teaching. Awards are recognition for personal service to education at the local, state, national, or international level.

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HP Announces 2006 HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative

Request for Proposals Available Now! Due February 15, 2006

HP has launched its 2006 HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative, which will award grants totaling $8 million in cash and equipment to K-12 public schools and two- and four-year universities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The higher education grant awards are valued at more than $70,000 and include wireless HP Tablet PCs and a faculty stipend. For two-year colleges, HP welcomes proposals that focus on the redesign of math, science, engineering, or computer science courses that provide students with required credits that will transfer to a four-year college for the completion of a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or engineering (EE, ME, Materials, or IT engineering). Based on the outcomes of the projects funded through this initiative in 2006, HP may offer grant recipients the opportunity to receive higher-value grants in 2007. Web-based applications are due by 5 p.m. PST, Wednesday, February 15, 2006. For more information and to download a request for proposals, visit http://www.hp.com/go/hpteach.

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Clearly Quotable

"A commuter transit system that is run on the schedule of working adults and that can accommodate on-and-off traffic, but still makes connections to long-term destinations, may be an apt metaphor for an education system effective in serving low-skill adults."

"Consideration of the many characteristics of community colleges, alone and in concert with each other, opens up a rich research agenda that moves away from specific evaluation studies of individual programs and discrete interventions and focuses attention on overall institutional performance."

"Policymakers should not condemn colleges merely because of low graduation rates, especially if there are questions about the accuracy of the data. Neither, though, should colleges be complacent about their graduation rates because they believe that students are getting what they want, however low their goals are, or because that is the best that they can do, given all of their difficult problems to solve."

All quotes are from CCRC Brief, a monthly publication of the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University (http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu).

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Capella University Awards Fourth League for Innovation Doctoral Scholarship

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Instructor Receives $50,000 Scholarship to Attend Leading Online University

Capella University, an accredited online university headquartered in Minneapolis, and the League for Innovation in the Community College have announced that Jaime Klein is the recipient of the university’s fourth League for Innovation Scholarship.

The League for Innovation Scholarship recognizes the innovative accomplishments of educators in community colleges across the country and awards three years of tuition in Capella University’s Ph.D. online degree program. The scholarship is valued at $50,000, and includes residency fees for three one-week colloquia.

Klein was awarded the scholarship in recognition of her role as a technology pioneer at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, where she is an information technology network communication specialist and business instructor. Klein was instrumental in the development of online learning and information security classes at her college, located in Fennimore, Wisconsin. She has involved her students in many projects serving students, staff, and the technical college.

“Winning the scholarship is a dream come true,” says Klein, who is now pursuing her doctorate in organizational management through Capella University’s School of Business. “I cherish this opportunity and will make the most of it.”

Klein says that she had always dreamed of becoming a doctor, but her plans changed after she married early. She earned an associate’s degree in computers and worked as a network consultant before returning to college for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. In time, Klein says, she would like to serve in administration as a dean, a position that nearly always requires a doctorate.

Capella University and the League for Innovation also awarded three partial doctoral scholarships. Winners are

  • Emily Weineker, human resources staff member at Maricopa Community College District office, Tempe, Arizona;
  • Dan Fernandez, instructor at Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland; and 
  • Jackie Long-Goding, dean of health professions at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill and Lawrence, Massachusetts.

“By sponsoring the League for Innovation’s Ph.D. Scholarship, Capella University is promoting further educational opportunity for community college faculty and staff, as well as recognizing innovative accomplishments in the field,” says Gerardo E. de los Santos, Interim President and CEO, League for Innovation.

About Capella University
Founded in 1993, Capella University is an accredited* online university that offers graduate degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services and psychology, as well as a Bachelor of Science online degree program with 10 specializations in business and information technology. The online university currently serves more than 13,000 enrolled learners from all 50 states and 55 countries. Capella University is a wholly owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company, headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, visit http://www.capella.edu or call 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552).

*Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, located at 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, (312) 263-0456, http://www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org/.

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Inside the League

Conference on Information Technology

Early feedback on the recent 2005 Conference on Information Technology (CIT) in Dallas has been enthusiastically positive! We extend our appreciation to all of the conference participants for their contribution in making the 2005 CIT such a success, with special thanks to the Dallas County Community Colleges, Tarrant County College District, Collin County Community College District, and the North Texas Community College Consortium for their generous support, including providing an outstanding team of volunteers. The nearly 2,300 conference participants were treated to great weather; a diverse program of informative hands-on, breakout and other sessions; and an exhibition of resources and services from over 100 Corporate Partners, Friends of the League, and College Participants. The conference was highlighted by keynote addresses by Adena Williams Loston, Director, Education, Wallops Flight Facility, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Piedad F. Robertson, President, Education Commission of the States; Andre LaMothé, CEO and Chief Scientist, Nurve Networks LLC and Xtreme Games LLC; and John O'Brien, Vice President, Academic Affairs, Century College (MN). The entire conference program, which by all indications was of outstanding quality from start to finish, explored the intelligent application of information technology in community and technical colleges.

Preparations are already under way for the 2006 Conference on Information Technology, to be held at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 22-25. The Charlotte Regional Workforce Development Partnership, a consortium of the 10 community and technical colleges throughout the Charlotte region, will serve as host for this 22nd annual event. In Charlotte, there is always something new to entice, interest, and amaze. Charlotte's southern culture represents a colorful spectrum, from the fine artwork of the Mint Museum to the engine-racing thunder of NASCAR that draws more than one million visitors each year. Whether you stay a day, weekend, or longer, Charlotte will keep you entertained!

Proposals to present at the 2006 Conference on Information Technology can be submitted online at http://www.league.org/2006cit/cfp/index.html. Each year, Track One focuses on an emerging technology believed to be of particular interest to educators. For the 2006 CIT, the special focus for Track One is Open-Source Solutions and Their Implications for Community Colleges. As increasing numbers of colleges implement a wide variety of open-source instructional and enterprisewide tools and solutions, what are the pros and cons that must be considered? Proposals targeted toward this focus area should assist community colleges to evaluate, customize, anticipate, and deploy fiscally, technologically, and educationally sound open-source solutions to meet instructional and organizational needs. Although open-source solutions are the special focus of the 2006 CIT, other proposal topics related to the emerging and future use of information technology at community and technical colleges are strongly encouraged.

Proposal Submission Deadline—March 17, 2006.

For additional information about the 2006 Conference on Information Technology, contact Ed Leach at leach@league.org or (480) 705-8200, x233.

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iStream - November Updates

Hot Topics and Archives

November Focus: Workforce Development
What are the two imminent demographic changes for the U.S. workforce? What is an innovation economy? Learn the answers to these and other questions relevant to workforce development and the community college in a Q&A session with Gaye Gilbert of the Administration arm of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Hot Topics and Archives
Segments 1 and 2 of the recent broadcast, "Workforce Development, Career Education, and the U.S. Department of Education's College and Career Transitions Initiative (CCTI)" are now available on iStream's League Radio. Former League CEO Mark Milliron and CCTI Project Director Larry Warford discuss this landmark initiative's progress and future plans. Also, see League abstracts and joint publications regarding the role of the community college in workforce development.

League Partner Spotlight: ACT's WorkKeys
In 1993, the company best known for its college entrance exam created WorkKeys, an exam that has since helped thousands of students to become more employable and assisted the businesses who hire them as well. Discover how WorkKeys is preparing students for the world of work.

Ten Questions for Leadership
Anthony Newberry, President of  Jefferson Community College in Louisville, Kentucky, discusses his college's priorities relevant to national workforce development objectives.

Project Highlight: CCTI
Now in its fourth year, the Career and College Transitions Initiative offers a CCTI Toolkit that shares best-practice resources of its 15 college partners for institutions interested in implementing stronger high-school-to-college bridge programs.

Click Poll: Workforce Development at Your Institution

- Is workforce development a top-three priority at your college?
- Does your institution partner with local businesses and industries?
- Does your institution provide just-in-time or on-the-job training for local industries?

Educational Pathways: Is developing courses for distance delivery costly, time-consuming, and inefficient at your institution? The Dallas County Community College's Dallas TeleLearning division has created a relatively new set of undergraduate-level interactive telecourses as a solution for offering rich, dynamic, and highly flexible distance education in a way that can save on course development costs. Read about it in the November Educational Pathways.

Log into iStream for new content, new updates, and new ideas. (http://istream.league.org).  Or if your institution is not an iStream subscriber, contact Wendy Neil to find out more information.

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League Services is Pleased to Announce New Topics

Classroom Assessment and Active Learning: Making the Connection

Classroom assessment is designed to help individual teachers find out what, how much, and how well students are learning. Coupled with the principles of active learning, classroom assessment becomes a powerful way to obtain immediate feedback on classroom objectives as well as to provide information on the effectiveness of particular teaching approaches. This highly interactive workshop models active learning and classroom assessment techniques while exploring

  • the basic concepts of assessment;
  • using active learning to assess attitudes, skills, and knowledge;
  • assessing the effectiveness of group activities;
  • formative assessment of our own performance in the classroom; and
  • building an environment that encourages classroom assessment.

A fundamental assumption of this workshop is that we can all learn from the experiences of others.

Lively Lectures: Using Active Learning to Create Excitement in the Classroom

Educators agree that active learning motivates students, so why does so little active learning actually occur in a typical classroom? To meet that challenge, this workshop explores the promise and the potential problems associated with introducing active learning into classroom lectures. Topics for discussion include

  • examining the strengths and limitations of lectures,
  • using new cognitive research to structure effective lectures,
  • investigating barriers that prevent faculty from using active learning in lectures,
  • selecting active learning strategies appropriate for the context and needs of a specific course,
  • assessing the effectiveness of lectures, and
  • building a supportive environment within a lecture classroom.

This highly interactive workshop will model ways that faculty can transform students from passive listeners to active learners.

Critical Thinking and Active Learning: Teaching Thinking Skills in the Classroom

All instructors want students to become proficient at thinking logically, solving problems, and making decisions. To facilitate these goals, this session focuses on ideas and tools for creating learning environments that foster thinking skills for students in all disciplines. Specific topics include

  • varied definitions of critical thinking,
  • how course structure can promote thinking skills,
  • cognitive development and thinking skills,
  • active learning and its potential and limitations,
  • how to use a variety of active learning techniques to teach critical thinking,
  • how questioning can develop thinking skills,
  • how to assess thinking skills, and
  • creating a supportive atmosphere.

Participants explicitly identify important disciplinary thinking skills that students should possess and then devise specific active learning strategies to help learners extend their abilities within the context of classroom assignments.

To find out more about these and other topics, email Ed Leach or call (480) 705-8200, x233.


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College and Career Transitions Initiative (CCTI) Network Expansion Gains Momentum!

Since October, when the College and Career Transitions Initiative announced it’s expansion to all Community Colleges in North America, community colleges in the United States and Canada have been signing up to be active participants in this strategic initiative. If your college is interested in easing student transitions from high school to college and on to careers you’ll want to join with us. For more information: http://www.league.org/ccti/networkapplication.

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News and Events

Making the Grade: A Report on the Success of MyMathLab in Higher Education Math Instruction

Pearson Education, a League Corporate Partner, is pleased to announce the release of Making the Grade: A Report on the Success of MyMathLab in Higher Education Math Instruction. This report examines several case studies in which Pearson Education's MyMathLab has been successfully implemented in both distance and onsite learning environments. Case study interviews, statistical data, and an analysis of features illustrate MyMathLab's consistently positive impact on the quality of learning and cost reduction in higher education math instruction. The report is available for free access at


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Sinclair Student Success Plan Wins Second National Award

The Sinclair Community College Student Success Plan (SSP), an online record management system developed as a solution for counselors to monitor student progress, won first place in the Terry O'Banion Shared Journey Award competition sponsored by the National Council of Student Development (NCSD).

NCSD is an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges and the only organization solely dedicated to serving the needs of student development professionals in the community college. NCSD is the nation's primary voice for sharing knowledge, expertise, professional development and student advocacy for community college student development professionals.

"Earlier this year, we had been nominated and selected as one of the 12 exemplary student development programs in the nation," said Hank Dunn, Sinclair Vice President for Student Services. "We were recently in competition with the other nationally ranked programs to select the top three exemplary practice programs in America, where Sinclair's program was named the best. It is a real tribute to our staff who has worked in the Student Success Plan area, and our students are the direct beneficiaries of their hard work and dedication."

Sinclair's SSP also recently won a 2005 Macromedia award. The award, in the Rich Internet Applications category, came with a $2,500 cash prize.

The SSP provides Sinclair counselors and staff with an integrated suite of reference tools and reports. These features provide ongoing feedback for student progress and follow-up. SSP uses a Flash interface to provide web-based caseload management for identified at-risk students. The application supports a holistic counseling approach that allows individualized support and assistance.

With the SSP application, each at-risk student's needs are analyzed, and resources are provided to address those issues that may prevent students from realizing their potential and successfully achieving their goals. A Sinclair counselor may use SSP tools to assist in targeting and overcoming the degree-completion barriers students face.

Like most community colleges, Sinclair serves a high proportion of students who require extra support to achieve academic success. During the past three years, an average of 45 percent of the new degree-seeking students at Sinclair left during their first year. In response, Sinclair Student Services staff, faculty, and IT staff partnered to develop a technology infrastructure that could tie together processes for identifying at-risk students, providing support, and tracking progress.

The resulting web-based support system for students and counselors includes a screening process that enables Sinclair counselors to determine the students' risk of failure and provide a Student Success Plan for identified at-risk students. The SSP offers assessments, a case-management counseling approach for both new and current students, and transition plans that range from intensive support services to self-service and web-based systems.

At-risk students who participate in the SSP process have a customized, documented Individual Learning Plan (ILP) to guide their educational experience. New degree- or certificate-seeking students are screened after placement testing based on risk criteria (placing into two or more developmental studies courses, poverty-level income, undecided major, or working full time). The counselor assesses the students and assists them with understanding their results, choosing a college major or career goal, developing a plan to pay for educational expenses, identifying resources, reviewing strategies to improve learning and study skills, and registering for classes.

Currently enrolled at-risk students are also referred and receive intervention services for not meeting academic standards of satisfactory progress or through the Developmental Studies Early Alert component. From July 2003 through June 2005, a total of 5,135 students were served, including 3,291 new ILP students and 1,844 currently enrolled at-risk students. As a result, ILP students consistently had higher retention rates than non-ILP students or than all first-time degree-seeking students. Sinclair's average first- to second-quarter student persistence rates have significantly increased as a result.

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Survey of Instructor Perceptions and Use of Online Technologies in Teaching

The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (www.iskme.org) invites postsecondary instructors to participate in a national online survey designed to examine postsecondary instructors' perceptions and use of online technologies in their teaching. This survey has been funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

To take this survey, please click http://www.questionpro.com/akira/TakeSurvey?id=291819.

ISKME is especially interested in instructors who teach developmental education courses, whether or not they use online technologies in teaching; however, survey participation is not limited to this group. All postsecondary instructors who have taught with online technologies are invited to complete the survey.

The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. You may skip any questions that you do not wish to answer. All responses will remain anonymous, and your individual privacy will be maintained in all published and written data resulting from the survey.

If you have any questions or difficulty in accessing or taking the survey, please contact ISKME at Anastasia@iskme.org.

Please feel free to forward this survey to any instructor that you think might be interested in participating in this survey. The link to the survey is http://www.questionpro.com/akira/TakeSurvey?id=291819

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Member Spotlight

Media Literacy Project
Bronx Community College
Bronx, New York

The Media Literacy Project, initiated by CTE, was started in the spring 2005 semester and continues in the fall. The project involves 10 weeks' delivery of The New York Times to instructors and students at BCC. In the spring, approximately 200 students and 12 faculty participated in incorporating readings from the paper into their curriculum and linking skills development such as writing and critical thinking to regular readings.

For the fall 2005 semester, eight professors were accepted to the Media Literacy Program in the of spring 2005. They are

  • Christina Sassi-Lehner (English);
  • James Freeman (Social Science);
  • Joan E. Wilson (Education and Reading);
  • Betsey Hallihan (Biology and MLT);
  • Clarence Perkins (Business and Information Systems);
  • Phyllis Read (English);
  • Susan Amper (English); and
  • H. Elizabeth Smith (English).

Professors will be employing a diversity of general education proficiencies while incorporating The New York Times. Proposals submitted include scaffolding essay assignments leading to a research paper; responding to articles via letters to the editor; collating and classifying health-related topics leading to a research paper; summarizing articles on microbiology leading to in-class presentations; tracking and discussing current business trends; analyzing articles on Islam in the context of "The Kite Runner" and viewing OSAMA; and analyzing editorials and op-ed pieces as a means toward understanding the writing process. These innovative proposals are good examples of pedagogies of engagement. Faculty feedback from the spring semester indicated that incorporating the newspapers into classes added an important topicality to the subjects discussed.  

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Resource Connection

Building a Better Textbook: The New Co-Publishing Model in Computer Science and IT Learning

The college textbook is under fire these days: Costs are out of hand, content is out of date, and the traditional text doesn't always work in the nontraditional, increasingly virtual classroom. Serious commitment to systemic change in the textbook industry is necessary if academic publishers want to continue to meet the evolving needs of the community they serve. 

Earlier this year, Congressman David Wu of Oregon requested a Government Accountability Office investigation into textbook pricing. The GAO study, released in August, reports that textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation in the past two decades, nearly tripling from 1986 to 2004. While overall consumer prices rose 72 percent in that period, college textbook prices rose 186 percent. For students at two-year public institutions, that means books and supplies account for more than 70 percent of the total cost of attending school, tuition and fees included.

The GAO report cites publishers' bundling of CDs, DVDs, and other supplemental material in textbook packages as the primary reason for this steep rise in prices, followed by the proliferation of minimally revised editions. Student groups like the Affordable Textbook Campaign have responded with workable solutions for the short term, ranging from setting up online used-book swaps to buying books from overseas sources where publishers sell them for less. These groups advocate greater use of online course materials and digital textbooks, which are cheaper, and some publishers have responded, although a recent study reports that most available e-books are still supplements to existing printed texts, not full digital versions of those texts. 

Cutting the price of a popular math text or posting a book online may help now, but nothing in the industry's recent actions suggests that publishers are thinking creatively for the long term. Instead of a vision for sustainable and meaningful change, there is quibbling over report statistics. Instead of forward thinking about the ways new technologies could make textbooks not only more affordable but more current, flexible, and adaptable to a variety of learning situations, there is stubborn defense of bundling by some as a legitimate instructor-driven publishing practice.

Bringing the Business of Publishing to the People

O'Reilly Media is a small, independent publisher of computer books based in Northern California. Its approach has always been to make publishing "more than books," as founder Tim O'Reilly puts it. "We've created web-based user communities where people who use our books can interact with us and with one another. We host several user conferences each year and publish open content from our customers. We want to be known for the quality of our products as much as for staying connected to the people who use them.  

"With our users' help and lots of feedback, we developed a custom publishing tool that could serve as a model for change in textbook publishing. SafariU is a web-based platform that allows educators to build their own textbooks from the content we've collected and digitized in the SafariU library. That includes 5,000 periodicals and more than 2,200 titles from O'Reilly, Addison-Wesley Professional, Prentice Hall PTR, Cisco Press, New Riders, Sams, Que, and others." 

SafariU users select the content they need, down to a single section, and arrange it the way they want in their book. They can integrate their own material and opt for a print version, which costs 16 cents a page and delivers to the college bookstore in two weeks or less, or they can post their book online for student subscribers to access immediately. The online version also serves as an electronic bookshelf, giving students full access to each book the instructor chose content from. Either way, the instructor gets to customize material to suit a specific course and the student gets a premium quality book at a fair price.

The Growth of Custom Publishing

According to the Simba 2005-2006 College Publishing Market Forecast, custom publishing is the fastest growing segment of the college market, with an estimated 11 percent increase in sales in 2004. Those in the textbook industry view custom publishing as the key to providing a blended solution of print and electronic course materials. Some in the industry see electronic course content continuing to play the supplemental role of study guides, coursepacks and the like; others envision e-books as a way to simply publish existing content online, which may help make textbooks more affordable, but doesn't address the desire for custom publishing in the electronic realm. 

The problem seems to be a short-sighted approach to technology. Instead of treating technological innovation as a threat to the printed text, why not seize on it as the key to developing more publishing options and greater learning opportunities? Market analysts agree that is what's driving the custom publishing boom is the instructors' desire to tailor teaching material to their courses and the publishers' ability to accommodate them, now that they've begun digitizing content. So why not provide faculty the means to create both custom-printed texts and custom electronic books and let them decide which best suits their needs? 

The Simba Forecast reports that publishers are fielding a growing number of requests for custom electronic course material, not just print books.  SafariU membership has grown to 2,000 educators, many of whom have built their own custom course materials and are using them in Computer Science and IT classrooms.  

Evolution or Revolution?

According to the Simba Forecast for 2005-2006, the textbook industry isn't looking for a revolution. The promising news is that, while most custom publishing remains a print medium, dissemination of electronic products is accelerating. The report states, however, that this growth is characterized not so much as a revolution as an evolution, with publishers speaking of an incremental rather than radical pace of change. 

Those in the publishing and academic communities who have developed and refined SafariU over the past two years say that radical change in custom publishing is not only possible, it has already begun. The critical thing now is to spread the news. O'Reilly quotes the science fiction writer William Gibson: "The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet."

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League Connections is published monthly by the League for Innovation in the Community College.
For information, contact Matthew T. Milliron.

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