EDTECH

UK university students & staff to receive free textbook access from Kortext

SOURCE: Ulises Ruiz/AFP
The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused campuses worldwide to close and exams to be cancelled.


By U2B Staff 

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The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented impact on higher education systems around the world. This has led to millions of university students and staff in the UK being disconnected from various academic resources to support regular teaching and learning activities. 

As of now, the UK government has announced the cancellation of nationwide examinations. This includes the GSCEs, As, and A-Levels examinations. Nevertheless, the UK higher education sector is still open to initiatives to maintain teaching and learning practices during these times of uncertainty. 

Leading UK-based digital textbook platform Kortext, together with digital education solutions provider JISC, is launching a nationwide initiative to provide access to key learning resources for all 2.4 million university students and 217,000 academic staff. 

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Kortext is partnering with leading textbook publishers Pearson, Cengage, Sage, Elsevier and Oxford and Cambridge university presses to facilitate sector-wide support for students during this transitionary period of campus closures and online teaching and learning. 

This will mitigate a nationwide loss of access to course materials that are often accessed as print textbook copies through university libraries. 

Each student will be provided free digital copies of their core textbook titles covering all subjects and courses across the UK. This will adequately equip students to continue their studies remotely as they can connect with their peers and educators while using the content throughout these challenging times. 

The programme will be rolled out across the entire higher education sector in the UK within the next three to four weeks. Kortext together with JISC will be collaborating with all UK universities to facilitate a smooth implementation of the programme. 

global pandemic
The global pandemic has caused the higher education sector to go digital. Source: Josh Edelson/AFP

“We’re determined to do what we can to help minimise the impact of this virus on student attainment and we are proud to be working with the sector to deliver a completely student free solution to support them,” said Kortext CEO and founder James Gray.

“The response that we’ve seen from content providers to support students, teachers and researchers has been fast, heartfelt and emphatic. We’re all acutely aware of the disruption that the students and universities are experiencing at this most critical period of the academic year. Initiatives like this from Kortext will help ensure students can access critical textbook content,” added JISC CEO Paul Feldman. 

“We are continuing to encourage and work with all content and software providers to maximise access and help our member universities prepare for campus closures.”

The initiative will also receive support from various industry experts to ensure a seamless implementation across the entire higher education sector.

This includes Microsoft which is delivering the infrastructure to support Kortext’s platform. 

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Key academic publishers including Pearson Education, Cengage, SAGE Publishing, Elsevier, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Wolters Kluwer will also be supporting the programme by providing online textbooks. 

“The importance of being able to provide core e-textbooks to our students and teaching staff during such a challenging time cannot be understated,” said Cambridge University Libraries senior director, academic services Patricia Killiard. 

“That this access is being offered for free during the coronavirus outbreak marks incredible generosity and care on the part of the contributing publishers who have chosen to make their content available, and Cambridge University Libraries are extremely grateful to Kortext and Jisc for all their work to make this possible.” 

In addition to this, JISC has prepared a list of recommended practice for publishers, aggregators and vendors to carry out to support institutions and colleges throughout the period of campus closures during the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

These recommendations and initiatives will hopefully ensure continuity in research, teaching and learning activities for higher education institutions across the UK.