Walk Away From Hero – BGSU Reverts Back To Previous Course Adoption Software

Project Spotlight

Purchasing textbooks each semester is as much a part of the college experience as late night Jerome Library study sessions and mid-afternoon naps.  Considering that textbooks are an integral part of the college learning practice, the Federal government implemented the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), which mandates Universities who provide Federal financial aid to students must also allow them to proactively search textbooks and compare prices for upcoming semesters.  The intent of these rules is for student cost transparency, as well as encouraging faculty familiarity with the price of the course materials they are requiring their students to purchase.  A number of private companies have developed systems that allow faculty members to “adopt” textbooks for class they are teaching, as well as the ability for students to compare textbook prices from a variety of vendors.

Up until last year, BGSU used a system called Verba for their course adoption system.  The adoption software marketplace is a bit limited and Verba is considered one of the only options – until a small company launched a new system with increased functionality called Sidewalk Hero.  BGSU reviewed Hero’s functionality and determined it was a better fit for both students and faculty, and began the implementation process.  Hero was up and running for a number of months when BGSU was alerted that the application was purchased by their previous course material adoption vendor, Verba… and all current customers of Hero were given 30 days’ notice before Hero would be shut down with no future access to the system.  In an effort to maintain HEOA compliance and to continue offering the service to students, BGSU signed a new contract with Verba and began the re-implementation process.

Based on the available options, BGSU had to react quickly to ensure there was no downtime between shutting down Hero and implementing Verba.  This contract-driven change is something the cloud-based application industry is starting to see more often, given that the very nature of cloud computing requires those who use the system to pay a provider to store and access data and programs over the internet instead of on their own servers.  During this time, Falcon Outfitters, the previous “owner” of the contract with Hero, worked with the Jerome Library to transition the administration of course material adoptions to the Library. 

The Verba implementation team at BGSU was able to meet the deadline imposed by the shut down by re-launching Verba with limited, delivered functionality.  The team is now working on customizing the student experience to make it more user-friendly.  Soon, when students review courses via the Public Class Search on the main BGSU webpage, or through the Student Center Class Schedule via MyBGSU, the Booklist links will take them directly to a Verba (image below) hosted page displaying a large number of vendors and purchase options, all in an effort to make the college textbook buying experience more transparent and easier to navigate.