Algonquin is looking at spending $450,000 on an Amazon-like system to help students purchase and read their e-textbooks.
Algonquin and Kivuto Solutions, a local tech firm, are in talks to develop a new program to make it easier for students and staff to select e-texts for their program.
Kivuto is an Ottawa technology firm that develops digital distribution technologies.
The partnership was announced at the college’s Board of Governors meeting Feb. 2.
Both Kivuto and Algonquin, however, are quick to point out that there has not been any concrete investment and the partnership is still tentative.
The college currently uses Kivuto as part of its e-text program to enable students to use Kivuto to select and purchase their e-texts. Students then need to use a different company’s technology to read the content.
As a result, the current technology moves students between different platforms when they purchase their textbooks.
“There are a lot of handoffs from one platform to another,” said Claude Brulé, senior vp academic.
The hope is that Kivuto will be able to develop a seamless solution with just one platform.
“It’d be like having an Amazon for Algonquin,” said Brulé.
There will be a pilot program to test Kivuto’s technology in May. If it works well, the college will further explore the partnership with Kivuto, said Glenn MacDougall, director of Learning and Teaching Services – adding that the current technology is not meeting Algonquin’s needs.
The college sent out a survey recently to students gauging their satisfaction with the current technology. The college got more than 1,400 responses from students.
“One-third of students have found the software we’re currently using is not as good as they would like it to be,” said MacDougall. “That result just solidifies the need for this partnership.”
According to MacDougall, the original idea for the technology was Algonquin’s.
Kivuto got on board because of the reputation Algonquin brings to the table, he said.
“Algonquin is already recognized as a leader in North America in terms of an institution adopting electronic textbooks,” said Richard White, vice president and COO of Kivuto, in an interview with the Times March 10.
“This partnership has the potential to allow us to continue to exhibit our leadership to the rest of the Ontario college system,” said Brulé. “Our sister colleges have contacted us.”
If the partnership moves forward, the college hopes to recoup the cost of the investment over time.
Kivuto has served more than 60,000 organizations with its software and has seen over 32 million downloads on its signature platform.
“They’re a local company,” said Brulé. “It was really nice to work with a local company.”