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Students gain free course lab access after contract approval

Staff Reporter

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 01:11

The Board of Regents approved a contract extension between Sam Houston State University and Pearson Education that will give students free access to course labs and mastering programs.


The contract runs from Jan. 1, 2013, through Aug. 31, 2016 at $3.5 million.

“What we’re doing with this agreement is unique,” said DELTA Associate Vice President Bill Angrove.


The deal provides students with personalized instruction that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the individual, according to Angrove. The program features 80 labs, but now they will come free to students, aside from the cost of the course that requires the material.

There is also a 60 percent discount for students who purchase corresponding e-books with MyLabs, which could save students from having to scatter around for costly textbooks.

Angrove compared the personalized instruction to gaming, with each student advancing to the next level at his own pace.


“It’s used in the developmental math, writing, reading and first experience. Each student is given an individual assessment and it tailors instruction to the individual,” Angrove said. “We’re calling it a student success initiative because we want students to succeed.”
The university began renegotiating its contract with Pearson earlier this year after Faculty Senate voiced its concerns with eCollege, which is the server currently used for online courses. Professors complained as far back as 2010 that eCollege was unintuitive and difficult to manage, especially with much of the staff using Blackboard for face-to-face courses as well.


This fall, it was decided that all online courses would be moved from eCollege to Blackboard 9 beginning spring 2013. That meant there would no longer be a use for the eCollege server, but as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jaimie Hebert said in September, the university is locked into the contract whether it used the server or not.

SHSU owes Pearson $1.9 million over the next two years for the eCollege learning management system. Angrove said this is a separate agreement with Pearson – one strictly for the use of electronic content for coursework.


The university will still have the eCollege server, but online course officially transfer to Blackboard next semester, and eCollege will be inactive. Blackboard will also still be used for online communication in face-to-face courses.

 

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