SMC is 1 of 7 in the nation to launch AcademicPub

Santa Monica College is one of seven colleges across the nation to become a pilot customer for utilizing a service called AcademicPub, a service provided by SharedBook, Inc., which allows professors to build course material in real time, add content from a wide variety of sources, and gain copyright clearances in seconds.

AcademicPub is part of a growing industry of online platforms built for the needs of educators and students. Essentially, professors can customize, aggregate, and organize their own course materials from a wide variety of sources. Once compiled, they can provide these course materials to their students in various forms such as paperback or PDF format.

Aside from the convenience provided from such a service, there are also clear advantages afforded to students and professors using AcademicPub. Professors save time by gaining quick online copyright clearances for the materials they wish to share with their students; they can limit the amount of material they use. For example, a professor of botany using AcademicPub can compile a course packet with material solely focusing on their subject, instead of requiring their students to purchase an expensive biology textbook that potentially only contains a few chapters that students might need.

Students are also given an economic advantage: they can purchase a paperback version of the course material or download it onto their eReaders and computers.

Albert DeSalles, the manager of media and reprographics at Santa Monica College, has been the program manager of the pilot program for AcademicPub since SharedBook, Inc. contacted him in November 2010.

"We're excited about the possibilities, but we need to conduct additional pilots to produce a scalable model for our instructors and students.  The efficiency, ease-of-use, and flexibility of the online AcademicPub system is tremendous," he wrote over an email correspondence.

"However, in practical terms, we need to spend more time in analyzing and developing a ‘best case' economic model that gives our students high content value and low cost," said DeSalles.

Keith Graziadei, a temporary ESL professor, was the first at SMC to use AcademicPub to successfully construct a custom course pack for his students. Created during the winter session, the 52-page course pack became available for his 10G ESL students at the beginning of spring 2011 for just under $20. The course pack is also available as a PDF download.

"The course pack can be edited and proofed electronically in the AcademicPub system before it is completed," DeSalles wrote. "This was a very useful feature along with the ability to secure immediate copyright clearances.  We also had the option to print the hardcopy version in-house.  This effectively made it less costly, which was key to passing on the cost savings to our students."