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Digital Biology Textbook to Cost CSU Students Just $49

Interactive text to be offered at pilot campuses at a significant
savings from comparable printed textbooks

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Erik Fallis
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(May 24, 2011) - Students taking biology at three California State University campuses will be able to purchase a high quality, interactive, multimedia and digital text with unlimited printing rights and no expiration date for just $49.

As part of a three-year partnership with Nature Publishing Group (NPG), publisher of the world’s leading scientific journal Nature, CSU faculty guided and advised the development of NPG’s Principles of Biology – the first in a series of interactive "born digital" textbooks.  The text will be incorporated into courses for students at the Los Angeles, Northridge and Chico campuses starting in the 2011/2012 academic year.

"Students still often pay more than $800 per year on textbooks, representing a serious barrier to learning when students go without course materials because they can’t afford them," said Gerry Hanley, senior director of CSU Academic Technology Services and executive director of the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching.  "Making course materials more affordable is a major concern of the CSU, and providing better tailored and more interactive content at the same time enhances student access to an excellent CSU education."

Principles of Biology uses more than 175 interactive lessons and continual assessment to help students master basic concepts, and draws on the Nature journals’ expertise and extensive archive of research papers to cultivate mature scientific skills, including data analysis and critical thinking.  During the three-year partnership, NPG will launch further titles in life and physical sciences with consultation and adoption by CSU faculty.  The texts will all be accessible to students and instructors via web browsers on desktops, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.

"Textbook publishing is moving into a new age.  College faculty and students are demanding more functionality, flexibility and affordability," said Vikram Savkar, senior vice president and publishing director at NPG.  "A publisher's job is to meet those demands as directly as possible.  The CSU’s willingness to work collaboratively with us towards achievement of that goal has been key."

By learning what students and faculty want through programs such as the digital licensing pilot, the CSU is able to work with innovative publishing partners such as NPG to create a new generation of textbooks.  Under the umbrella of the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions campaign, the university continues to look for low cost and no cost educational resources for professors and students.

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