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Class Notes: Some UNG students to get free e-textbooks
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Students in three University of North Georgia courses will get their textbooks free in electronic format thanks to a grant from Affordable Learning Georgia, a University System of Georgia initiative to provide affordable textbooks.

Textbooks for the courses — introductory, intermediate and college algebra — would normally cost $188 to $206 when bought new. The University System of Georgia estimates each student spends an average of $1,200 per year on textbooks. 

The classes will begin using the textbooks in the upcoming spring semester.

The $10,800 grants were awarded to 30 USG programs out of 48 that applied.

The ALG Textbook Transformation grant was secured by two math faculty members, Michael Goodroe, lecturer and learning support liaison of mathematics, and Berhanu Kidane, assistant professor of mathematics.

“For some students, there is sometimes a choice between rent, groceries and textbooks, and we hope this opportunity eases their burden a bit. We will also (be) conducting surveys with our students to gauge how well the initiative helps.” Goodroe said in a university news release.

“Students today make great use of having access to digital textbooks,” Kidane said in the release. “When taking a full load of courses it can be quite a strain to carry a half-dozen or more physical textbooks with you, but this grant will allow students to access the digital textbook from anywhere that has Internet connectivity. As well-connected as our current generation of students is, many of them find this way of accessing the book preferable to even owning a physical copy.”

Hall schools apply for $1.25M grant

Hall schools are asking the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement for $1.25 million to create online and blended learning courses in partnership with Featherbone Communiversity.

If funded, the project will create the courses through collaboration between teachers, colleges, industry professionals and others with an interest in education or expertise in the subjects being taught.

Classroom teachers would be able to access course activities for their classes, and the district has tentatively discussed allowing out-of-district students to apply for the courses. However, it’s not clear whether the inclusion of out-of-district students will be approved, according to Laurie Ecke, assistant director of innovative and advanced programs for the district.

Ecke said the goal is to create “highly personalized, flexible, 21st century, K-16 education.”

Ecke said the courses, called eCourses, would be designed to do more than the typical online class.

“An eCourse is not an online class of lectures and quizzes in the absence of a real teacher,” Ecke said in an email. “A dream team of teachers, eLearning specialists, course designers, university professors, and industry partners will create eCourses that are unique to our community’s strengths and opportunities.”

If awarded, the implementation grant would span two years and be used primarily to fund personnel to write the courses. The district expects to know whether it will be awarded the grant by Dec. 15.

Jacobs to speak at national events

University of North Georgia President Bonita Jacobs is speaking at two national conferences this fall.

In November, Jacobs will speak at the TIAA-CREF Institute Higher Education Leadership Conference in New York. TIAA-CREF is a financial services company that handles retirement benefits for schools and colleges. The institute performs research into financial security for the educational, nonprofit and public sectors.

The conference, with the theme of Building Bridges to the Future this year, will focus on “the latest academic and business model innovations on campuses across the nation,” a news release said.

Jacobs spoke at the College Board Forum in Las Vegas last week. The annual forum hosts professionals and policymakers in both K-12 and higher education.

Jacobs sat on a panel that discussed ways to improve retention and academic success in first-year college students. She co-authored a book on the subject, “Starting from Scratch: Strategies for the Successful College Experience,” in 1993.

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