Global education technology company Cengage has launched a first-to-market subscription service for textbooks for South African higher education institutions.
The company says the subscription service, Cengage Unlimited for Institutions (CUI), allows students to access an unlimited number of courses from a library of 10 000 digital products including eTextbooks, online learning platforms and study tools covering 675 courses – all from one source at one affordable price irrespective of the number of materials used.
“Cengage Unlimited for Institutions is not just another online learning offering – it is the only comprehensive service that includes access to everything a student needs to learn – eTextbooks, learning platforms, study tools, online homework and skill-building resources to develop employability skills. Subjects covered include accounting, science, maths, psychology and engineering amongst many others,” explains Andrew Robinson, vice-president, GM of International Higher Education at Cengage.
Cengage already supports more than three quarters of public and private South African universities with in-person, blended and online courses. Their digital resources are used to support student outcomes and improve student engagement, digital literacy, the learning experience and employability skills.
University of Pretoria, North West University, University of Cape Town and the University of Johannesburg are some of the institutions successfully using Cengage’s digital platforms to address their higher education needs.
“Cengage Unlimited is designed to address one of the major challenges facing higher education, and one exacerbated by the crisis over the last two years, namely fair and equal access to learning materials. Affordable and accessible course materials can make the difference between a student dropping out or completing their degree,” Robinson says.
“This ‘all-you-can-eat’ subscription service is now available in South Africa through an institution or faculty pay model. Cengage Unlimited revolutionised the traditional textbook model in 2018 when it was first launched to the US market, and has since helped nearly 4-million students,” he adds.
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at University of Cape Town is using Cengage’s WebAssign, one of the platforms included in Cengage Unlimited for Institutions, to provide content, online study functionality, and efficient homework assigning and grading to a large Calculus course of 800 students. The platform is specifically designed for STEM subjects and provides course content, homework, tests and practice problems with instant assessment and has been shown to improve student grades.
The results from 276 students who responded to a survey demonstrated that students were provided with all the resources they needed to succeed in Calculus and the students’ experience had been positive.
The Psychology Department at North-West University (NWU) used another of Cengage’s platforms, MindTap – also included in Cengage Unlimited, for their Introductory Psychology module to help a large cohort of students with their self-study and comprehension of key introductory concepts. MindTap is a fully customisable online teaching and assessment tool that includes videos, test banks, interactive study tools and access to eTextbooks.
At NWU, positive survey responses both quantitative and qualitative, showed that students were satisfied with the convenience of mobile digital resources and interactive self-test activities to help prepare for exams. The survey indicated that students appreciated the read-aloud feature as well as being able to access the full textbook and practice activities on their cell phone to study anytime, anywhere.
“Cengage Unlimited has been successfully piloted in EMEA over the last 12 months in Ireland, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia to ensure the diverse needs of our instructors and students in the EMEA regions are met through this new subscription platform,” says Robinson.
“The pandemic had major implications for students and institutions alike. During this time, Cengage worked closely with its customers to support the transition to remote learning. Throughout the process, Cengage developed a deeper insight into the ways eLearning can be supported.”
Dr Eoin Langan, Dean at the Faculty of Business, Technological University Dublin (TUD), says: “As a technological university we aim to deploy the latest technology solutions to advance and supplement our students learning. Cengage Unlimited provides instant access to quality course material across laptops, tablets and mobile phones, and students can access the material from anywhere.
“Cengage Unlimited provides an affordable alternative to the cost of purchasing textbooks for students and our library. Lecturers can benefit from Cengage Unlimited for both formative and summative assessment purposes, including automatic grading, which helps monitor student progress and understanding.
“Besides cost savings, TUD students have benefited from Cengage Unlimited in more ways,” Dr Langan adds. “All our students travel to campus, and want access to their material on their journey. Students appreciate being able to access their learning materials from anywhere, integrated with our virtual learning environment which aids them in their studies.
“They can also easily find content by using the search feature on Cengage and save important information with bookmarks and highlighting, and more importantly, they don’t have to carry physical textbooks to campus.”
Robinson adds: “MindTap, WebAssign and Cengage EMEA’s extensive range of digital learning materials are now available through Cengage Unlimited. “Institutions now have the opportunity to support each of their students with the same access to more than 10,000 eTextbooks, but a vast range of other digital resources and study tools from day one of their courses, with no student left behind.”