MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXIII No. 2
November / December 2010
MIT's Foreign Policy?; S3 & Institute Committees; Landscaping
MIT Promotion and Tenure Processes
Student Support Services:
Reorganized, Reviewed, and Redefined
Support the New START Treaty
MIT150: MIT Open House
Follows a Long Tradition
A Missed Opportunity: Saving Oil and Foreign Exchange with a Great Reducation in Emissions
Looking at the Numbers
Affordable Course Materials
Maintaining our Resolutions: Implementing the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy
Finding Appropriate Support for
Students with Disabilities
From a Whistle to a Hum: Facilities Upgrades Enhance the Resilience of the Campus Steam Distribution System
ICIS: International Center for
Integrative Systems
MIT EMS: A Student-Run Jewel
Stellar Next Generation
Work-Life Resources Now Available 24/7
Cost of Nuclear Energy is Misrepresented
No Mention of Geothermal Energy
Connect with MIT's Global Community
National Research Council (NRC) Finally Releases Doctoral Program Rankings
NRC 2010 Doctoral Program Rankings: Percent Ranked 1 in R or S Rankings
NRC 2010 Doctoral Program Rankings: Percent Ranked in Top 3 in R or S Rankings
Printable Version

Affordable Course Materials

Daniel Hastings, Christine Ortiz

On July 1, 2010, the Textbook Information Provision (TIP), in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), put new legal requirements on all universities. As of this date, MIT is expected to disclose required and recommended readings as part of the pre-registration process. Specifically, this information must be available via Web-based course schedules. In passing this law, Congress intended to reduce the cost of textbooks by ensuring students have access to information on required course materials as early as possible. Armed with details, including the ISBN and list purchase price, students will have more time to compare prices and find potential savings.

MIT has responded to this mandate by developing a straight-forward process that simplifies the submission of textbook information for faculty and makes the information available to students via the MIT Online Subject Listing. The process was defined and implemented through a collaboration among the Offices of the Dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Education, the Deans of each of the five Schools, IS&T, the MIT Libraries, and the COOP.

One Form for All Course Materials

Historically, each academic term faculty submitted textbook information to both the COOP and the Libraries through a variety of avenues, including internal forms, databases, COOP forms, Web forms, Stellar, e-mail and phone. This multistep process has been replaced by a single on-line TIP form which enables faculty, or their designees, to:

  • Select required and recommended textbooks – this information is automatically sent to the COOP and will drive the ordering process.
  • Select books to put on reserve – this information is automatically sent to the Libraries who will take action accordingly.
  • Provide information on required and recommended textbooks and course packets that is viewable by students via the MIT Online Subject Listing.

This streamlined process of managing textbook ordering reduces the burden on faculty in ensuring all the proper course materials are available to students at the start of the term. At the same time, it serves the purpose of meeting the requirements of the Textbook Information Provision and providing students with detailed, timely information on course materials.

The TIP form to enter textbook information:

Making Data Entry Simple

The TIP form is used for both graduate and undergraduate courses and has been designed to minimize data entry. Through a link to Bowker’s, it provides textbook lookup by title, author, and ISBN number, and shows all current editions in print so faculty can select the desired edition. Once a course is in the system, the textbook information is available for future semesters, eliminating the need to reenter the information for each academic term.

The new system was launched on October 11, 2010, and is being used by departments to enter textbook information for 2011 Spring Term pre-registration on December 1, 2010. While pre-registration is the target date for entering textbook information for all courses and meeting the compliance requirement, the system is available for faculty, or their designees, to enter and update information through the Add Date for that semester.

Making Textbook Information Available to Students

Once the textbook information for any course is entered into the system, the information is stored in the MIT Data Warehouse and available to course-related applications and services via the Online Textbook Information (OTI) Web service. The OTI was developed by IS&T in 2008 as a first step toward providing online access to information on required textbooks.

As the official MIT course schedule, the MIT Online Subject Listing ( now provides a link to required and recommended textbook information as part of the course description. The link appears only after the textbook information for that term has been entered.

The same textbook information will also be available through the applications students have historically been using to view textbook information including Stellar, Coursepicker, Bookspicker, and the COOP. By accessing common information via the OTI, these applications will not only provide students with detailed information by pre-registration, but also ensure the information is consistent across all the course-related applications and systems at MIT.

Support from Faculty is Key

Meeting the requirements of the Textbook Information Provision requires the support of all the faculty. While this federal mandate compels us to provide required and recommended textbook information, what is truly compelling is the fact that we can make the cost of attending MIT more affordable for our students by giving them more options to reduce their costs. Through the use of the new streamlined process, we hope that all faculty will help MIT champion the cause of affordable course materials by providing textbook information by pre-registration when requested.

Upcoming pre-registration dates, as agreed to in the academic calendar set by the faculty:

Spring 2011: Pre-registration: December 1, 2010
Fall 2011: Pre-registration: May 1, 2011

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