Education is changing today faster and more frequently than perhaps any other time in recent history. Technology has a place in the classroom that's evolved beyond the overhead transparency projectors and solar-powered pocket calculators many of us remember from our education. However, that doesn't mean that technology is achieving its full potential. In other words, educational technology keeps changing with many new players offering promises of single-handedly transforming how your students learn.
Various organizations have even begun putting up "caution flags" for technology in the classroom. While Open Educational Resources continue to be more present, implementing an open content solution can be difficult, including validating the quality of the content and how well it ties to the course learning objectives necessary for accreditation. In addition, the proliferation of new content providers and models have made it especially critical to validate the companies offering the new service. Will the company be around in three years? Are they scalable to handle customer support? Will they protect my student’s data? What are they doing with my student’s data? The data these educational technologies provide can be incomplete or often go unimplemented in developing future strategies. As we saw at Educause last week, many vendors are working to translate the large amounts of data available on student performance into meaningful insights to student performance and successful student outcomes.
With solutions like these having presented themselves as one-size-fits-all programs sure to revitalize education, it's understandable that educators feel skeptical of such claims, and overwhelmed about how to manage the marriage of campus IT infrastructure to academic performance.
There are no magic bullets, just custom solutions that work
None of this is to say these solutions don't have value. Indeed, most do, but when each institution, each program and each individual student have their own goals and needs for success, there are no perfect out-of-the-box solutions.
MBS Direct may not be in the same educational technology space as tools like online classes, but we understand the changing needs of both educators and students, and we understand technology's role in the process is a complex one. That's why we strive to customize each implementation, and give partner institutions the tools to meet their goals and give their students every chance at academic success.
We're in a strong place now
As the costs of education become a more central focus nationally, it's important we keep two key components in mind:
- Cost effectiveness will continue to be an issue to address in order to bridge the gap between the role of course materials in achieving successful student outcomes, while maintaining affordability so all student have access to the materials needed to be successful
- Acquisition and routine access of those course materials shouldn't be overly complicated
One of many options schools are utilizing to cut costs for students are digital course materials, in the form of both eBooks and courseware or other supplemental content delivered through access codes. These provide interactive, modifiable content to students' devices for typically less than print materials, but they can carry with them a heightened logistical effort to seamlessly link student’s access from multiple content publishers. eBook access can be limited or difficult for students to manage independently across multiple devices or accounts, while access code utilization can vary widely depending on publisher or scope. Delivering this content in a way students can easily access their materials is something MBS Direct has perfected in our 25 years of serving more than 750 partner institutions. We provide students one place to access all of their digital materials through an access portal, and our client services team helps our partner institutions navigate the adoption process, understand their digital options, discover alternatives and provide training opportunities for faculty and staff.
MBS Direct also offers schools a choice of different distribution models to meet their particular needs and help keep costs down for both the institution and its students. Our traditional Online Bookstore has long offered students access to the breadth of options and price points on materials they want, available on their schedule. We are also developing our latest course material fee model, Direct Success, for schools that wish to streamline the fulfillment process through automated delivery as part of their tuition or fee structure. We represent the opportunity for institutions to partner with one company — not several — to deliver everything from print books, digital materials and alternative content like OER and game-based courses.
We're looking to the future
Again, technology is rapidly changing, and even the most proven solutions need to be ready to adapt to continue to meet the educational needs of its users.
- In 2017, MBS Direct will be launching its new remodeled Online Bookstore to further simplify the ordering, acquisition and access processes for students
- In the near future, all materials will be available to purchase through MBS Direct via financial aid vouchers, including rental and Marketplace
- We are increasing our inventories of lower-cost alternative content, many of which cost $50 or less
- We are partnering with trusted content providers on new models of content distribution, including providing students with all of their course materials at the start of class at a lower cost than traditional student purchasing
MBS Direct continues to be on the leading edge of this course material transformation and is your trusted partner to help navigate the ever-changing landscape of distribution and fulfillment.