New Digital Textbook Engages Students With More Interactive Learning Materials While Potentially Saving Them Money


Our digital text book allows students to explore course content more like they would surf the web, with links to readings, websites and videos for each content module.”
– Susan L. Willey, Clinical Professor of Legal Studies, Department of Risk Management and Insurance


Susan Willey has been collecting data on student use of the textbook for a number of years. (Pictured left to right: Susan Willey, Zoe Salloom and Emerson Stewart.)

Buying textbooks is no small expense. Students spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks every semester and with the rising cost of textbooks more students are looking for alternatives. To help save students money and to offer an active learning source, Professor Susan Willey, Clinical Professor of Legal Studies in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, created a digital textbook for her Legal and Ethical Environment of Business (BUSA 2016) course.

The digital text can potentially save Georgia State University students between $600,000 and $650,000 each year. Willey received an Affordable Learning Georgia Textbook Transformation Grant of $10,000 to assist with costs related to producing the digital text and is working with Georgia State University’s Center for Instructional Innovation (CII) to produce the online resource.

The digital textbook will be provided to Georgia State students at no cost. After piloting the text in her course, Willey will make the digital text publicly available as an open educational resource for use at other institutions. Because Legal and Ethical Environment of Business is offered at intuitions across the University System of Georgia, the text has the potential to save even more for students across the state.

Willey Text Photo 2

“ More students today claim to be auditory and visual learners who prefer videos, infographics, podcasts, and other multi-media formats over print text. ” – Susan L. Willey

Professor Willey is working with Zoe Salloom, an instructional designer at the CII and Emerson Stewart, a GSU student, to develop the digital text. They are working to ensure the digital text includes all the elements to create an interactive course. The digital text will include multimedia, such as video, simulations and quizzes, as well as suggested course activities to support the instructional content and goals of the text.

Justin Lonsbury, Manager of Instructional Design and Training at the Center for Instructional Innovation states, “Using high-quality open educational resources makes it possible to reduce costs for students while maintaining the quality of their core instructional materials. This is especially important work given increasing tuition and textbook costs. Professor Willey and Ms. Salloom, from the Center for Instructional Innovation, are working hard to save Georgia State University students thousands of dollars each year.”

Early sections of the digital text were piloted in Willey’s course last semester, and initial feedback from students was positive. This semester, Willey is offering the digital text to two sections of the course, while continuing the printed text in another, in order to compare the effect of the digital text with a traditional textbook on student performance. While limited data is available, students using the digital textbook performed better on early course tests than students using the traditional textbook.


For assistance exploring your ideas for creating or using digital texts to save students money and enhance interactive learning, contact the Center for Instructional Innovation >.