Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech-Talk: Focus on Digital Textbooks

  • Wall Street Journal Digits: McGraw-Hill, Pearson Invest in E-Textbooks “Colleges and universities that have been testing Apple’s iPad tablet in classrooms have said that the biggest hurdle to incorporating the devices more deeply into their curriculum is an insufficient selection of textbooks that go beyond just converting the print version into a digital format. San Francisco-based Inkling is changing that. The interactive textbook developer said that McGraw-Hill and Pearson, two of the world’s largest textbook publishers, made multimillion dollar minority investments in the company on Monday…”

Textbook Rentals and Rental Companies

  • VentureBeat: Chegg Moves Beyond Textbooks with Course Selection, Homework Help “Chegg is already leading the pack of textbook rental websites, and with new features unveiled today, it’s moving closer to chief executive Dan Rosensweig’s vision of reaching college students every day of the year. Specifically, the Santa Clara, Calif. startup is launching new features that allow students to select classes and ask for homework help on the Chegg site. These additions use the technology that Chegg acquired when it bought CourseRank and Cramster last year…”
  • PR Web: College Book Renter Continues to Grow Textbook Rental Market at Triple Digit Rates “Today’s college students include non-traditional students like working mothers and displaced workers in addition to younger students working multiple jobs. Saving money is a priority for these students, and purchasing textbooks can easily cost $1,000 or more per year. Many traditional and non-traditional students are turning to textbook rentals to save hundreds of dollars per year. As evidence, CBR demonstrated explosive growth in January 2011, outpacing January 2010 by 700 percent. February 2011 outpaced February 2010 by over 435 percent. And this spring semester, CBR experienced a 200% growth over the last fall semester…”


Textbook Buyback

  • Sell Now or Hold Your Peace: Buyback Report Tells Students When to Cash In Sell now or wait until the end of May? compiled its data for the spring buyback period of 2010 and is sharing the money-saving trends with smart students. Using twenty indicator ISBNs, the online search aggregator compiled every time a textbook was searched and the offering price from online retailers, focusing on the five weeks between April and May when most students sell their books. The results show that timing which week to sell can affect how much money students get for their investment, and that knowing supply and demand can earn a savvy student more cash.


Colleges and Universities: Campus Data and Trends

  • The Daily Beast: 10 College Admissions Trends “The toughest college admissions year on record is reaching its apex this week as nervous seniors obsessively check their email or a website to discover their fates. It has been an especially stressful process this year. The weak economy and a wider acceptance of the common application — Columbia used it for the first time this year and had a 32 percent jump in applicants over last year — has meant the competition is steeper than ever. Over the past five years, applications to the eight Ivy League schools plus MIT and Stanford skyrocketed from just over 200,000 applications to almost 300,000 early and regular applications, for a total increase of more than 40 percent, according to Michele Hernandez, president of Hernandez College Consulting…”
  • Washington Post College Inc: Non-Traditional Students Key to College Completion Goal “Roughly 40 percent of America’s college students are non-traditional students. They are workers who’ve gone back to school, former members of the military embarking on new careers and single parents wanting to do better for their families. They could also be one of the most important game-changers in the ongoing national discussion on college completion and the continuing dialogue at College Inc. about how to fix higher education…”
  • The Daily Beast: America’s Smartest — and Dumbest — College Towns “The March Madness Final Four is upon us, and it’s clear which schools — for this year anyway — can claim supremacy with the elite college basketball programs in the country. While advancing to the Final Four will bring these schools unmatchable exposure for recruiting the best and the brightest, college life for most students does not revolve around the rim. We wanted to find the towns where the student body encounters a rich learning environment, with towns that are concurrently intellectually stimulated…”


Finances and Funding

  • The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP): Chart of the Week: Net Tuition Revenues and Educational Appropriations “This chart presents data from the report State Higher Education Finance FY 2010, published by the State Higher Education Executive Officers. The chart shows the growth in real net tuition revenues for public institutions (by state) compared to the growth in the respective state’s real educational appropriations from FY 2005 to FY 2010. The data reveal that there is essentially no correlation between per student net tuition revenue growth and growth in per student appropriations. Basically, those states which have reduced state appropriations the most have not seen the most pronounced increases in the cost burden borne directly by the students themselves…”
  • HuffPost College: Why Does College Cost So Much? “The question above is the one I get asked most often in my role as president of Macalester College and also happens to be the title and subject of a new book by Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, both professors of economics and public policy at William and Mary. It is a book that should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in the answer and certainly by those policy makers who seem convinced that the answer is simply, ‘for no good reason.’ Rather than looking chiefly at the internal workings of colleges and universities, Archibald and Feldman take a macro-economic approach and examine whether forces in the larger economy have led during the past three decades to a phenomenon with which every tuition-paying parent (and I happen to be one of those, too) is familiar: college costs have risen and continue to rise at a much faster rate than inflation or the cost-of-living index…”
  • Publishers Weekly: Chain Bookstore Sales Slipped 3% In 2010 “Total sales at the nation’s three largest bookstore chains fell 3.5% in the year ended January 31, dropping to just under $8 billion. Borders had the worst year, by far, with sales falling 17.6%, to approximately $2.3 billion. The decline at Borders came before the chain’s February 16 bankruptcy filing and subsequent announcement that it will close 225 superstores during the first half of 2011. Although sales from Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million have fallen annually since peaking at $9.4 billion in 2007, they had been dropping at a relatively modest rate. The combination of Borders’s downsizing and the growing popularity of e-books, however, is certain to accelerate the rate of decline in 2011…”


And Finally, One for the “Really? Really?!?!” File

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