The eText initiative at Algonquin has saved students and the college millions over the last three years, but this technology could cost you more than traditional textbooks if its policies aren’t properly understood.

Students who prefer using a hardcopy version of their required eText are eligible for a refund of the eText fee, if they present the equivalent hardcopy they have purchased to the campus store. However, refunds will only be issued between Jan. 23 and Feb. 10, 2017, for the winter term.

Josh Daigle, a first-year mechanical engineering student, fell victim to the narrow eText refund window last semester. Daigle was not aware he had been charged an eText fee for his electronics class, and subsequently purchased the actual textbook. Daigle was aware that he could be refunded for this text, but due to the pressures of full-time studies he did not make it to Connections before Oct. 7, the final day to receive his refund of $150. Daigle said in an interview he feels the college stole his money, but acknowledged that he was not aware of the refund policy’s limitations.

The eText initiative is co-administered by Ancillary Services and Leaning and Teaching Services. Farbod Karimi, chair of Learning and Teaching Services, believes the biggest roadblock to the success of eTexts is in miscommunication between faculty and students regarding the required texts for specific courses. Karimi’s department runs ongoing, program-specific, eText professional development seminars, but there is no mandatory training on eTexts other than a general seminar that briefly covers the basics at the start of each term.

Karimi is concerned by the number of students who are charged for eTexts, but find that their professors rarely reference them, leaving the resource relatively unused. “If you don’t use it, don’t require it,” Karimi said, indicating that this concept is the focus of most professional development related to eTexts.

Requiring eTexts is at the discretion of professors. In many courses, the available digital resources aren’t necessary for achieving the requisite learning outcomes of the course, so professors won’t require them. In this scenario, students won’t be charged for eTexts.

If you prefer hardcopy texts, the best way to avoid missing out on eText fee reimbursement is to clarify with professors which of the required resources for the course are under the eText initiative, and source the equivalent hardcopy resource before the window closes. All information regarding eText fee reimbursement is available on the college website.