How students use unlimited access to their study materials
A report on a pilot site covering Cengage Unlimited software, which gives students access to unlimited courses from a library of 10,000 digital products, including e-textbooks, online learning platforms and study tools covering 675 courses, showed how business students are using unlimited access to their studying materials.
Acquiring high-quality course materials from a trusted provider available across multiple departments at an affordable cost is a challenge faced by many business schools.
The pandemic has forced higher education institutions (HEIs) to rethink the way students interact with instructors and the institution. The focus is on the need for institutions to have a more flexible approach to learning, which includes face-to-face and online learning options.
Developments in the US market, where textbook affordability is a major issue in higher education, led Cengage as a global publisher of print and digital resources to develop the idea of Cengage Unlimited for Institutions (CUI).
As a learning solution, CUI gives students and teachers access to more than 10,000 e-textbooks and digital products, along with a career center to enhance employability skills, and CUI will provide learning resources for 675 different courses. It also provides access to a wide range of course solutions and materials including e-textbooks, homework platforms, assignments, study tools, and more.
The concept has been adapted for the UK, Europe, Middle East and South Africa markets, where the challenges facing higher education are different, albeit with some similarities.
University of Technology Dublin piloted Cengage Unlimited for Institutions (CUI). The solution gave students at University of Technology Dublin unlimited access to Cengage’s entire library of study materials and content for the 2021 to 2022 academic year.
The university says funding is a critical factor for institutions considering online education, both for the institution and the students. Decisions had to be made as to which faculties and departments would make best use of resources, how they could supplement and improve existing resources, and how access to CUI was funded.
After interviews with students, they reported that they had access to digital copies of key texts through the institution’s library, but could sometimes be frustrated by the lack of access due to restrictions and concurrent use licenses, and noted that they had to wait up to two weeks for a digital copy to become available books. By accepting CUI, students have access to more than 10,000 titles without these restrictions.
“Our students now travel to campus and access material on their way using CUI. Students appreciate that they can access their learning materials from anywhere and that it is integrated with our virtual learning environment,” said Dr. Eoin Langan, Dean, Faculty of Business, University of Technology Dublin.
CUI is a very different product for institutions compared to what publishers have traditionally offered. The quality of the resources in terms of their academic content and the flexibility of the digital resources to support instructors and students was something particularly noted by instructors using CUI.
It was noted that CUI can be used to support individual courses but also to share resources across schools and departments. The range of resources can also be used to support wider institution initiatives such as employability, sustainability, accessibility, knowledge co-production, inclusion, diversity and equality.
As the development of international partnerships continues to accelerate, along with online courses and part-time study, access to the range of e-textbooks and learning software provided by CUI represents a significant added value for institutions relative to the potential investment required.
Cengage Unlimited provides an affordable solution as an alternative to the cost of purchasing textbooks for students and our library. Instructors can benefit from using Cengage Unlimited for both formative and summative assessment, including automated assessment that also helps track student progress and understanding,” added Dr Langan.
Unlocking the potential of CUI
Research participants noted excellent resources on college preparatory skills, career resources, employability skills, Microsoft Office, and computer software concepts.
While promoting independent learning skills, it allows students to access a wider range of related content beyond their core content to explore areas of interest or use the content to improve or clarify their understanding. If a student had difficulty understanding a topic in management, accounting, finance or economics, for example, using their basic content, they could use CUI to find additional content and resources that can explain things in a different and clearer way.
The students interviewed noted that this was an important part of their studies and having access to such resources in one place, quickly and easily, would be a key advantage.
Both instructors and students agreed that buying books was not a typical student habit. Many students access the content and resources they need through their institution’s learning management system or through library-provided digital services. The instructors felt that library involvement in any decision to adopt CUI would therefore be important.