Digital Learning in 'Inside Higher Ed' This Week

October 10, 2018

The following developments received news coverage in Inside Higher Ed this week:

  • The publisher Cengage has reached a settlement with two authors who objected to their work being included in the publisher’s Unlimited offer -- a subscription model where students pay one fixed price to access all of Cengage’s digital course materials. In their lawsuit, which has now been dismissed, authors David Knox and Caroline Schacht said that it was not clear how royalties would be paid to them under the new subscription model, which was introduced this year. In the court document, the authors said the publisher had “trampled” on their rights. The terms of the settlement are public, except for the amount paid. Under the settlement, several textbook titles, authored either jointly or independently by Schacht and Knox, will remain part of the Unlimited subscription. However, the rights to one title, Choices in Relationships, will be returned to the authors for them to resell to another publisher next year.
  • State performance-funding policies that link a relatively high percentage of base funding for community colleges to student outcomes on average lead to more short-term certificate (instructional time of a year or less) completions and fewer associate-degree completions, according to a new study. These results suggest potentially damaging consequences for students, because short-term certificates tend to lead to negative or minimal wage gains, while associate degrees offer substantial wage gains. The findings were described in a policy brief from the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education. The study's authors are Amy Li, an assistant professor at the University of Northern Colorado, Alec Kennedy, a doctoral student at the University of Washington, and Margaret Sebastian, a doctoral student at Northern Colorado.
  • A classroom experiment in California has resulted in state legislation designed to influence public policy around textbook costs. The goal of the political science class -- to draft legislation that could be passed by the California Legislature -- first produced a bill to require publishers to specify the differences between textbook editions and to do so prominently on their websites. After getting a lesson in lobbying (from publishers), the students and their supporters amended the legislation so that it urged, rather than required, this information.


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