New software provides quick look at book prices
Estimated costs to appear automatically in Course Offerings
May 18, 2010
From staff reports
Software engineers from the Office of Information Technology had a straightforward goal for the new program that provides textbook prices to students – make it simple and easy to use.
“That was the main thing we heard,’’ said OIT software engineer David Fleeman. “Is the system going to be easy to use? In the end, I think we developed a software program that offers a lot of benefits to Ohio University students and faculty and isn’t overly complicated.’’
Aided by input from a steering committee comprised of campus representatives, staff members from OIT and the Office of the University Registrar began work on the project last year. The application – aptly named “Textbook” – puts Ohio University in compliance with the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act, which takes effect July 1 and requires colleges and universities to disclose textbook prices when students begin online registration.
“We tried to design a system that would be flexible and provide some efficiencies to the departments,’’ said Debra Benton, university registrar, noting that a survey last fall of departments revealed a range of practices for collecting textbook orders from faculty and instructors.
Pricing information entered into Textbook will be displayed automatically in the Course Offerings pages on the Registrar's Web site. In addition, the information will be sent directly to local bookstores, which eliminates the need for schools and departments to perform the task.
To simplify data entry, Textbook utilizes a search service that retrieves author, title and publisher information when an ISBN number is entered. The program also allows faculty members to configure multiple sections or combined courses at the same time, eliminating the need for duplicate entries.
Each department or school can decide whether its faculty members will be responsible for inputting textbook prices for their courses or if that responsibility will be handled by a staff member.
In the program’s next version, due in August, faculty will have the ability to set and apply defaults for courses they regularly teach, and they will be able to automatically retrieve book and pricing information from previously taught courses, Fleeman said.