Texts To Become Extinct At Phoenix

May 16, 2002
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WALKER — Perhaps the oldest complaint among college students dates from the late middle ages when the first universities were organized in England and France.

It went something like: “The profs require you to buy their books for their courses and they cost an arm and a leg.”

“Yeah, and then you never use them!”

But the University of Phoenix has begun the process of making often-exorbitant textbooks obsolete as long as you’ve got a computer and access to the Internet.

Starting next month, students in the university’s information technology courses will be able to procure their materials through rEsource, an online program that makes textbooks, articles, study guides and all other study materials available electronically.

The students’ cost for access to rEsource, not including the price of whatever hardware they employ, will be modest: roughly the same as one hardback technical text.  

By February, all courses in the university’s master of business administration program will switch to the use ofrEsource.

Within two years, all University of Phoenix students will access their materials via rEsource.

“We’re the only university offering this,” said Susan Barnstable, director of operations for the West Michigan campus of the University of Phoenix.

“We’ve always been on the leading edge of educational innovation, and this is another example of our being out in front.”

She explained that University of Phoenix students will pay a flat fee for access to rEsource, software that is compatible with Microsoft Reader.

The fee is $70 for undergraduates and $84 for master’s and doctoral students.

When rEsource is completely launched, the university reports that its students will need no hard textbooks at all. They will be able to download updateable texts to their computers.

“As these texts get updated, they will never have an out-of-date textbook,” Barnstable said.

Moving to rEsource is the second of two recent e-steps the university has taken in its 12-year history of Internet education.

The first step came locally last month when the university began offering MBA students what it calls FlexNet, a program that allows students to open study blocks with a single classroom session, followed by five weeks of online study, and then a windup session back in the classroom.

The university is offering the innovation for the first time in COM 515 (managerial communications) taught by Lileen Pzyskowski

According to Patrick King, vice president and director for the West Michigan campus, FlexNet is “the perfect combination for students who want to study online without sacrificing the personal instruction of the traditional classroom.”

He said the new program shows the ways in which the university tries to offer a full range of study arrangements for working adults.

“If combining some of these options enhances the experience of certain students,” he added, “we are glad to do that as well.”    

The new Walker campus, which opened in February, is one of 35 — plus an additional 72 learning centers — through which the university offers programs to 485,000 working adults in the United States, Puerto Rico and Vancouver.

That total does not include 80,000 enrollees in the university’s Web-based program.

The university says its consolidated enrollment makes it the largest private institution in the United States.

The university was one of several recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its Internet studies program.

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