Students in two University of Houston-Victoria mathematics courses will not have to pay for textbooks because they will be pilot testing an e-book and an online system during the spring semester.
Ricardo Teixeira, a UHV assistant professor of mathematics, was contacted earlier in the fall by Knewton, an education technology company, about a new learning platform. At first, he was planning to try the platform during the summer semester, but Knewton offered to give the university a free trial if Teixeira and Ali Dogan, a UHV assistant professor of mathematics, would pilot the system during the spring.
“I always evaluate my courses at the end of the semester using feedback from students,” Teixeira said. “Every semester, I learn more about our students’ needs and the demands they face. When I looked into this system and how it interacts with individual students, I thought this was a great opportunity to test a new textbook and platform while also saving our students money.”
More than 90 percent of UHV students receive financial aid, and the cost of textbooks and other learning materials is important, Teixeira said.
“I used a textbook one year that cost about $200, and I heard about it from my students,” he said. “Offering an affordable education includes using materials that aren’t overpriced. Since then, I’ve tried to find the best textbooks and materials for a lower cost.”
Knewton’s system costs about $40 per student. Currently, there are 81 students enrolled in Teixeira and Dogan’s “College Algebra” courses and 24 in Teixeria’s “Probability and Statistics” class. This means that about $4,200 in book expenses will be saved, Teixeira said. There still is room for more students to enroll in the probability course.
The system is unique because it analyzes the work of the overall class as well as individual students, Teixeira said. The program tracks the work of individual students and uses that information to guide learning.
“This is an excellent opportunity for UHV and its students to explore some of the capabilities of technology in learning,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “Our students will have the benefit of free materials as well as a chance to help shape learning for future classes.”
The e-book and platform are compatible with smartphones and computers. That integration of online tools in the classroom is an important step toward making classrooms more accessible to younger generations, Teixeira said.
“We’re finding ways to adapt to our students’ reality,” he said. “I haven’t been a fan of e-books in the past, but educators need to teach for students’ futures. The internet and electronic devices are instrumental parts of our world, and we need to help students integrate those tools and prepare for the future.”