The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Cengage talks textbook subscription service

Photo by Courtesy

Cengage representatives were available in Kyle Field on March 1 for Texas A&M students and faculty to learn more about the upcoming textbook subscription service.

Cengage, a digital education company, held an informational at Kyle Field on Thursday in hopes of spreading the word to students and professors about the launch of their new subscription-based course material platform.
Cengage Unlimited will provide on-demand access to over 22,000 ebooks and digital resources that students can subscribe to for $119.99 for the semester or $179.99 a year, starting in August. The event was hosted by Cengage representatives for students, professors and anyone else interested to come by at their convenience and learn about the program.
“The entire premise is based around affordability of college content, courses, books [and] digital resources for the students,” said Cybele Beckham, Cengage Key Accounts Manager.
As an effort to reduce textbook costs for students, Cengage has designed their platform as a first-of-its-kind digital subscription technology, similar to Netflix or Spotify, according to chief marketing executive Sharon Loeb.
“The higher education industry has been functioning relatively the same for the last 125 years and what we recognize is that the cost of course materials is one of the greatest obstacles, and all the research supports it, to student success,” Loeb said.
According to research on the Cengage website, 45 percent of college prices have increased over the past 10 years and the average student spends more than $500 on course materials a year. In addition, 72 percent of students procrastinate in buying their books until after class started, 45 percent of students chose not to register for a course, 38 percent earned a poor grade and 20 percent failed the course because they were unable to afford the course materials.
“Students want to learn and be successful, but right now they are finding so many ways to try and avoid buying the course materials,” Loeb said. “It was a dedicated effort to find a way to help control costs for students and solve this problem so students don’t have to choose between what they can afford and the success in college that they want.”
Cengage Unlimited offers all of their content online for students to access for a free 14 day grace period, in which they can test out the products or compare prices at their convenience.
“This is perfect because a lot of students go to school at Blinn and pick up their basic courses and simultaneously take courses at Texas A&M,” Beckham said. “If they purchase the subscription once it applies both places.”
The platform also offers the ability to rent a printed copy of a book per semester for $7.99 shipping, if they do not want to use the e-book version online.
“We are going to continue adding additional resources over time and we just launched a deal with Chegg that’s going to offer students free tutoring services and access to some of Chegg’s other great offers to help increase the value for students,” Loeb said.
Cengage is also looking to partner with campus bookstores to accommodate students with particular types of financial aid that only allow for them to buy their books from the bookstore. Barnes and Noble representatives and managers were present at the event speaking to Cengage representatives to learn more about the technology.
Tracy Daly, an Adjunct Professor in the Kinesiology department at California State University in San Marcos travelled to attend the event to help promote the service.
“With Cengage Unlimited, it allows them to not only get access to the textbook that I require but a number of different textbooks that Cengage offers,” Daly said.
When a student’s subscription ends, Cengage Unlimited offers them a digital locker where they can keep up to six course materials for a year at no extra cost.
“Our goal right now is to help instructors see the benefit of this for their students and to drive as many instructors as possible to adopt Cengage products for their courses,” Loeb said. “That way students can go from saving on just one course to every subsequent course that they take and has Cengage.”
However, some instructors and students may still be hesitant to immerse themselves into online-based learning materials. In survey analyzed by the Chronicle of Higher Education, students praised e-books for helping them save money but disliked reading on electronic devices. Additionally, some professors said that they did not use the interactive features within the e-book.
Dali said her experience with Cengage’s materials has been positive. She said that she polled her students about the upcoming Cengage Unlimited release, and 87 percent of them were excited about the launch.
“A lot of our instructors are going toward and focusing on the low or no cost option for students,” said Daly. “There’s always going to be challenges, it’s never a perfect system by any means, but I think for me and my students the technology is really great.”

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