Connect Faculty with Innovative Course Materials

Administration and faculty play a vital role in shaping the learning experience of their students, particularly through the type of content they adopt.

This thought leadership piece was written by UB Custom Publishing Group for inclusion in University Business, January 2016. Read the original article.

How is content changing in terms of diversity and affordability on campuses?

"Content" used to be more narrow in scope, and referred pretty much exclusively to print textbooks. Today content can mean a wide variety of products, from traditional texts to interactive software. Content can come in a print or digital form, and be sold new or used. There are also new, open-source models that can provide access to everyone in a class at a low cost or for free. The products themselves are changing, in addition to the types of content.

How can administrators help faculty be aware of new course material options?

Institutions are charged with showing how students have demonstrated mastery of concepts. Administrators have to provide tools that facilitate the discoverability of content that aligns with desired student outcomes. Faculty need to be given a trusted place where they can find and evaluate content. When MBS created the first faculty-focused research tool, Faculty Center Network, we created an unbiased location where faculty could review textbooks and see usage data. We know that today’s faculty are already using more non-traditional content within their courses, including videos, simulations and other assessment tools. Our goal is to bring together the best of traditional publisher content, non-publisher products and open content in one faculty research and discovery tool.

What challenges and goals are your partner institutions coming to you with? What are the trends and how are successful administrators coordinating change?

Price continues to be a consistent challenge. With price comes the issue of quality. It is easy to adopt low-quality content for a low cost or for free. Successful institutions are balancing the right value with the right level of expense. They are also beginning to use analytics to gauge the efficacy of specific content. Being able to use digital tools to link success or failure to a student’s level of content engagement can be crucial to developing retention strategies.

Administrators have a lot of choice in who they partner with for course materials. What factors should they consider when choosing a partner?

The right content provider can help administrators stay knowledgeable about the different options available to faculty. Administrators should strongly consider working with companies like MBS Direct that are content-neutral and that work with a wide variety of publishers that offer a vast number of traditional and nontraditional products. To fulfill all students’ needs and desires regarding price point and preferred learning style, providers should offer content in multiple formats. Lastly, the provider should be technologically advanced. New types of content such as interactive software require a strong tech infrastructure, and students have come to expect tools such as single sign-on, singular purchase points and the ability to push content into an LMS, which are all offered by MBS Direct.

Bill Dampier, President & COO, MBS Direct