Dominion Resources has awarded Virginia State University $50,000 to expand a digital textbook pilot project aimed at reducing costs and increasing student retention. The grant is part of more than $200,000 in grants by Dominion to colleges and community colleges in Central Virginia to support programs in business, skilled craft, engineering, environmental and technical studies, and for student-led conservation programs.

The VSU grant will equip students in the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business with real-time learning assessments, access to educational networking and allow for increased interaction. The contribution will sustain the School of Business’s Digital Instruction Project by purchasing seat licenses for Flat World open source textbooks.

The school piloted the use of these textbooks in during the 2010-11 school year, saving students more than $200,000 and increasing student success. The project last year was conducted in nine core School of Business classes and, with Dominion’s grant, will be expanded this year to 16 classes.

Open source digital texts cost about $20 per text, as compared to more than $250 for some accounting and finance texts. Moreover, instructors can tailor the texts to their specific classes and update them continuously with topical case studies.

Dr. Mirta Martin, Dean of the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business, said she is delighted to be able to sustain and expand the use of open source digital texts. “Before using adopting digital texts, more than 40 percent of our students tried to get by without class texts because of the expense,” she said. With Dominion’s generous investment, our students will have access to class texts and a wide range of study tools.”

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