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For Immediate Release
June 15, 2015

Follett Grant to Provide Digital Resources for Student Success at IPFW

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), in partnership with Follett, today announced a $60,000 financial gift to help off-set expenses surrounding the design and implementation of a two-year project and study that focus on leveraging academic student success resources offered in virtual and social media environments and how they impact learning when integrated into Follett’s BryteWave e-book reading platform.

Additionally, the study will investigate if students are using Internet Web-reading behaviors and strategies, rather than those endemic to academic reading of physical books, and how this influences student success.

IPFW has long recognized the importance of investing in digital technology. For several years, Follett, which is the university’s partner for the on-campus bookstore, has supported new digital technologies available to students with two prior financial gifts in support of IPFW’s mobile device initiative, project #MobileEDU.

At IPFW the majority of digital course materials fall into the category of adaptive learning. Over the past two years, the university has seen a steady growth in the adoption and use of e-books that presents a reading experience similar to Kindle, iBooks, and BryteWave. At this time, most studies that investigate the impact and influence digital course materials have on learning and student engagement have focused on the adaptive publisher offerings, and few have looked at how the act of reading is done by students in an e-book environment.

"For the past several years, IPFW and Follett Higher Education Group have enjoyed a wonderful partnership on several projects relating to publisher-provided digital course materials (e-textbooks) through Follett’s includED program. The includED program offers students easy, single-sign-on access to digital course materials on or before the first day of class," said Samantha Birk, associate director for instructional technologies at IPFW.

One factor that is a challenge to integrate into the digital world is students’ academic success resources, such as virtual and “just in time” access to librarians, tutoring, and other academic success programs. These services have a physical presence on campus, but today’s students often need access to these after hours in the digital space where they are reading and studying.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, the Helmke Library building will undergo a major renovation that includes redesigning the Learning Commons, where the majority of these resources are, or will be, physically housed. The closing of the library for renovation presents to IPFW an opportunity to rethink how, when, and where students access resources, and to develop and refine and a Virtual Learning Commons that leverages the boundlessness of digital and social media environments. These resources can be integrated into an e-book delivery platform to create a more holistic study environment.

“You may think of Follett primarily as a bookstore operator, but in fact, we offer much more," said a representative for Follett Higher Education Group. "We work to develop the technology and strategic course material solutions that help our campus partners attract, retain, engage, and graduate students. IPFW was chosen for this funding because of the university's continuous research in the academic digital learning space and how those findings can help Follett provide the most innovative tools for students and faculty in the future.

For more information contact Birk at 260-481-6368 or birks@ipfw.edu.

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