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Author Topic: Recognizing that the student is the customer  (Read 106202 times)
johnny_sunshine
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« Reply #90 on: April 30, 2012, 4:56:44 PM »

I bought my psych book for $15 online and the girl next to me paid $180. Mine is 3 years old and almost word for word the same. Just more examples of the college scam and old profs trying to milk money out of the students.

Ah, but when it comes to textbooks, it is the textbook publishers who milk money out of students.  This is precisely what happens when you truly begin to recognize that the student is the customer.

More evidence the profs are out of touch - blame it on the publisher. The profs write the books, the profs choose the book for their class, and the prof's own school bookstore sells the book at inflated prices. So the old prof blames the publisher.

Next time I don;t have my homework because I had to work late to pay my bills, I am going to blame it on the publisher.

Just for your information, this is 2012.

Johnny

Oh, Johnny, you are so far off the mark in your description of this old prof, but at least you are trying to engage, unlike your compatriots.  It is, indeed, the publishers who profit the most from textbooks.  Yes, many textbooks are written by professors, and yes, those professors who publish textbooks do collect royalties in most cases (which represent a small fraction of the cost of the textbook).  It is the publishers who drive the steady flow of new editions that change just a few things here and there, as you mention in the case of your psych book.  The publisher (and authors, of course) no longer make much money when many students are buying used copies of textbooks.  Because of the high cost of commercial textbooks, this old prof has quit using them  in many of his classes and instead has developed and constantly revises and updates his own materials (provided to the students for free or at the cost of duplication if sold by the bookstore; I receive nothing either way).  It is not feasible to eschew commercial textbooks in all my courses, but I profit not a cent from using them when I must.  So yes, this old prof places the primary blame on the publishers, but beyond griping about it, I also have taken steps to try to ease the financial burden for my students caused by high textbook prices (and I am far from alone in having done so).  As for the school bookstore and the prices they set, well, you did want to be treated like a customer rather than a student, did you not?  Welcome to the world of market forces.

You are one of the good guys. I bet you are good in class.

But......

are you saying that the universities and profs have no power against the textbook publishers?
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larryc
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WWW
« Reply #91 on: April 30, 2012, 5:18:12 PM »

are you saying that the universities and profs have no power against the textbook publishers?

Yes! What too few students realize (because too few of us say it out loud) is that professors hate the textbook industry. We don't like seeing our students ripped off, paying $150 for a history textbook that would cost $50 if it were a regular book of the same size and quality at Barnes and Noble. We hate that they "revise" (really just change some chapters around) the book every two years to kill the used book market. I hate those fvckers.

What choice do we have? We could write our own textbooks--years of work! At the end you either 1) put it out there for free, or 2) sign a contract with a textbook company. We could look for popular, normally priced "trade" paperbacks for our courses. I can sometimes get away with this for special topics history courses, but how are you going to teach organic chemistry like that?

So you think about the options and your department secretary reminds you that the book orders are due and you swallow hard and put down the title of some overpriced, glossy POS and sigh.

There is some push back. I recently attended a brief presentation by Flat World Knowledge, a publisher of "open source" textbooks. Students and professors can access the books for free online or order printed copies for $35. I haven't checked it out yet but it is a promising idea: http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/reader/2044?e=trowbridge2_1.0-00cred





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aside
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« Reply #92 on: April 30, 2012, 5:24:34 PM »

I bought my psych book for $15 online and the girl next to me paid $180. Mine is 3 years old and almost word for word the same. Just more examples of the college scam and old profs trying to milk money out of the students.

Ah, but when it comes to textbooks, it is the textbook publishers who milk money out of students.  This is precisely what happens when you truly begin to recognize that the student is the customer.

More evidence the profs are out of touch - blame it on the publisher. The profs write the books, the profs choose the book for their class, and the prof's own school bookstore sells the book at inflated prices. So the old prof blames the publisher.

Next time I don;t have my homework because I had to work late to pay my bills, I am going to blame it on the publisher.

Just for your information, this is 2012.

Johnny

Oh, Johnny, you are so far off the mark in your description of this old prof, but at least you are trying to engage, unlike your compatriots.  It is, indeed, the publishers who profit the most from textbooks.  Yes, many textbooks are written by professors, and yes, those professors who publish textbooks do collect royalties in most cases (which represent a small fraction of the cost of the textbook).  It is the publishers who drive the steady flow of new editions that change just a few things here and there, as you mention in the case of your psych book.  The publisher (and authors, of course) no longer make much money when many students are buying used copies of textbooks.  Because of the high cost of commercial textbooks, this old prof has quit using them  in many of his classes and instead has developed and constantly revises and updates his own materials (provided to the students for free or at the cost of duplication if sold by the bookstore; I receive nothing either way).  It is not feasible to eschew commercial textbooks in all my courses, but I profit not a cent from using them when I must.  So yes, this old prof places the primary blame on the publishers, but beyond griping about it, I also have taken steps to try to ease the financial burden for my students caused by high textbook prices (and I am far from alone in having done so).  As for the school bookstore and the prices they set, well, you did want to be treated like a customer rather than a student, did you not?  Welcome to the world of market forces.

You are one of the good guys. I bet you are good in class.

But......

are you saying that the universities and profs have no power against the textbook publishers?

We have the power not to use their textbooks, but, as I said, for some courses that would not be in the best educational interests of the students.  We have the power to speak out against high prices, which many of us have done.  When I have served as a pre-publication reviewer of proposed new textbooks and have been asked to name a fair price for the book in question, I'm sure my figure has been much lower than the publisher would have wished.  I'm also sure, however, that the publisher was not swayed overly much by my figure.  We have no more real power over the price of textbooks than we do over the price of gas or any other commercial product.  However, change may be in the wind.  On one of the major e-mail discussion lists for my discipline, there is much talk of professors collaborating to put together open-source materials on the web.

<And ,on preview, I'll stop here because LarryC has made many of my points already.>
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melba_frilkins
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« Reply #93 on: April 30, 2012, 5:38:16 PM »

We DO have some power. But it is indirect and slow. When instructors choose based on price, the price will eventually go down. It is a competitive market, after all.

We've had this conversation before, but to get prices down:
-Choose from the cheapest of the expensive standard texts
-Use alternates when possible: trade books, open-source material, course readers, etc.
-Make it possible for students to use the older edition of the text
-Haggle with the text book rep to get a discounted price AND make sure the bookstore extends the discount to the students
-Support students in procuring inexpensive used copies (e.g., email students in advance so they can order online; provide the first week or two of reading for free to cover students who are waiting for their books to arrive).

That all said, sometimes the best book for the class is the most expensive one. I'm facing that dilemma next year, a $40 increase for students to go from a mediocre text to the excellent new one. Is it worth it? I think so.




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usukprof
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.


« Reply #94 on: April 30, 2012, 6:03:46 PM »

My first book was with a conventional publisher, and while the price is moderate compared to many books, It doesn't allow me the freedom to incrementally update

My next book (which I'll begin this summer) will be put online, free for non-profit academic use, but behind a paywall for business and for-profit higher education.
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #95 on: April 30, 2012, 6:31:23 PM »

Everywhere I have taught, some of my students have been hard-pressed to afford books.  I have never assigned a "textbook" in my life, because my discipline doesn't often use them. 

In the class I teach that is most expensive for my students, we use two books that are available in the university bookstore or online for a total of about $20 used, or $50 new.  I put the rest of the readings on our CMS.

I think most professors are profoundly aware of the cost of textbooks, and try very hard to cut costs for students, but in some disciplines, there is not much choice. 

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genius_at_large
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« Reply #96 on: April 30, 2012, 7:08:33 PM »

I bought my psych book for $15 online and the girl next to me paid $180. Mine is 3 years old and almost word for word the same. Just more examples of the college scam and old profs trying to milk money out of the students.

Ah, but when it comes to textbooks, it is the textbook publishers who milk money out of students.  This is precisely what happens when you truly begin to recognize that the student is the customer.

More evidence the profs are out of touch - blame it on the publisher. The profs write the books, the profs choose the book for their class, and the prof's own school bookstore sells the book at inflated prices. So the old prof blames the publisher.

Next time I don;t have my homework because I had to work late to pay my bills, I am going to blame it on the publisher.

Just for your information, this is 2012.

Johnny

Oh, Johnny, you are so far off the mark in your description of this old prof, but at least you are trying to engage, unlike your compatriots.  It is, indeed, the publishers who profit the most from textbooks.  Yes, many textbooks are written by professors, and yes, those professors who publish textbooks do collect royalties in most cases (which represent a small fraction of the cost of the textbook).  It is the publishers who drive the steady flow of new editions that change just a few things here and there, as you mention in the case of your psych book.  The publisher (and authors, of course) no longer make much money when many students are buying used copies of textbooks.  Because of the high cost of commercial textbooks, this old prof has quit using them  in many of his classes and instead has developed and constantly revises and updates his own materials (provided to the students for free or at the cost of duplication if sold by the bookstore; I receive nothing either way).  It is not feasible to eschew commercial textbooks in all my courses, but I profit not a cent from using them when I must.  So yes, this old prof places the primary blame on the publishers, but beyond griping about it, I also have taken steps to try to ease the financial burden for my students caused by high textbook prices (and I am far from alone in having done so).  As for the school bookstore and the prices they set, well, you did want to be treated like a customer rather than a student, did you not?  Welcome to the world of market forces.

You are one of the good guys. I bet you are good in class.

But......

are you saying that the universities and profs have no power against the textbook publishers?
Have you considered becoming a Phoenix?
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #97 on: April 30, 2012, 10:16:24 PM »

1.  I'd use monographs instead of texts, but students won't read them.

2.  Bookstores (all too often "stealth" B&Ns, Follets, and the like) are as culpable as publishers.  The spread on used books is bigger (difference between buy-back and selling prices) with used books than new.  Publishers are profit seeking, but one motive for issuing too many editions is to "flank" the used book market.  Publishers and authors only get paid the first time: there are no "residuals" in textbooks as there would be in music, say.  Students don't keep their books anymore, as we did (back in the day.)
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conjugate
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« Reply #98 on: May 07, 2012, 3:19:26 PM »

I'm sorry if folks were hoping this thread would die, but I just got off the phone with my internet provider.  I have now seen the light.  I will recognize that the student is the customer.

I'm going to ask for the department to buy some equipment and software for me.  Now, when the student wants help, he or she simply phones the Customer Service number.  The following dialog ensues, where S is the student and C is the Customer Service software or representative:

S:  Um, hi, I was wondering if...

C <interrupting> Message about pressing 1 for Spanish.

S: Um, hello?  I wanted to know if...

C <interrupting>  I see you're calling from <number>.  This is not a number that matches one in our records.  Please enter your student ID number followed by the pound sign.

S: beep beep .... <enters number>

C: Thank you.  The number you have entered corresponds to our records.  For security purposes, enter the last four digits of the social security number of the student with this account, and answer the following annoying questions about your first pet, mother's maiden name, and birth date.

S: <complies>

C: What can I do for you today?  You can say, "Pay Tuition."  Or you can say, "Contribute to Alumni Fund."  Other alternatives include paying parking fines, putting money on your meal plan,...

S <interrupting>  Please, I just need help with my homework.

Fifteen minutes pass until the student realizes that he or she must say "Technical Support" to get help with homework.  The message about longer-than-average waiting times, how busy Technical Support representatives tend to be, and the advisability about calling back at a time when the wait will be shorter, all are interspersed with annoying bits of music.  Another fifteen minutes scroll by while the student waits.  Then, finally:

C:  <Thick accent> Hello!  My name is being Ralph, and I am being tech support representative for <Institution>.  In what way can I be helping you today?

S: Um, I'm having problems with my homework.

C:  Good, I can help.  Please be giving me Student ID number now?

S:  I entered that already.

C:  Yes, sir (or ma'am).  I know.  Now please be giving it again so that I can be helping you with problem. 

S:  <Gives ID number, answers security questions all over again.>

C:  Have you tried opening book?

S:  What?  Of course. 

C:  Hokay, be so good as to open book again.  What is being chapter of homework, please?

Twenty minutes pass while Student makes Customer Service rep understand the question.  Then the Customer Service rep, realizing that the student's question is English Composition, where the Rep is trained to help in History, Math, and Political Science, apologizes, and asks to put S on hold until "someone is found who can be helping you with this."

Another fifteen minutes of hold time before another customer service rep is found.  The student is asked for ID number and security questions again.  Finally, fully 90 minutes after first calling, the following conversation takes place:

S:  I wonder if I'm supposed to use APA or MLA style for these references?

C:  Oh!  This is being easy question to be answered!  Please to be checking on Course Management Software for answer, under folder being called "Assignments."  Thank you.  Can I be helping you further today?

If Student says Yes, he or she will be put on hold so that the whole thing can begin again.

This kind of thing is the standard for customer service in the "real world."  Our students already get treated far better than customers for many, many other businesses. 
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usukprof
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« Reply #99 on: May 07, 2012, 3:22:37 PM »

A shame you didn't get Peggy; you would have gotten transferred to better service.
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rock_in_the_road
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« Reply #100 on: May 08, 2012, 11:47:37 PM »

At some level the student is a customer. We are just measuring what degree............

Rock
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usukprof
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« Reply #101 on: May 08, 2012, 11:53:17 PM »

You are doing a study to measure the degree to which the student is a customer?
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theritas
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« Reply #102 on: May 09, 2012, 9:27:05 AM »

At some level the student is a customer. We are just measuring what degree............

Rock

My degree was a big one.  About 3' x 2'.  Kind of difficult to frame.
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conjugate
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« Reply #103 on: May 09, 2012, 11:24:25 PM »

At some level the student is a customer. We are just measuring what degree............

Rock

My degree was a big one.  About 3' x 2'.  Kind of difficult to frame.

Well, I have 98.6 degrees from Fahrenheit University.  That's not as impressive as some; I believe that some forumites have 310 of them from Kelvin University.  I'd be even more impressed by those who have 558 degrees from Rankine, but I think they may be a bit of a diploma mill.

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Unfortunately, I think conjugate gives good advice.
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usukprof
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« Reply #104 on: May 09, 2012, 11:31:31 PM »

I only have 0.0267255493 from electronvolt U.
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