Date: April 7, 2010
To: Sascha Skucek
From: Lev Soroka
Subject: Progress Report for Feasibility Study on implementation of Electronic textbooks into
Information Science and Technology Major
The purpose of this feasibility study is to show that implementing electronic book such as
Kindle into school’s curriculum would bring many benefits to university itself and students.
Currently there are above 44 thousand students enrolled in University of Pennsylvania. This
number may complicate the overall financial requirement and need factor in order to
implement such system. However to simplify the scope of the feasibility project, I have chosen
to research and evaluate only one sector of the University; specifically college of Information
Science and Technology. Throughout University of Pennsylvania there are 2309 students
enrolled in Information Science and Technology College, such number is much smaller
compared to amount of students enrolled in University of Pennsylvania. This simplifies the
overall scope of the project and especially financial requirement. However, if theory and
feasibility of bringing benefits to university and students are proven to be beneficial for the
College of Information Science and Technology (IST) by the end of this study, Electronic
textbook may be implement throughout the University of Pennsylvania.
Currently I am conducting an online survey which targets students in Information Science and
Technology major. So far the survey has already collected responses from 50 students.
Analyzed results show that out of 50 students 36 owned more than 4 textbooks during regular
semester. More importantly, data shows that 88% of students spent more than 80 dollars on a
regular textbook. In conclusion, we can assume that most of the students spend above 320$
each semester on textbooks. In other words, large amount of students purchase numeral
textbooks. Of course purchasing textbooks is not a bad thing but there are many disadvantages
to it. First, students spend besides their tuition large amount of money each semester on
textbooks. Secondly, if all students in IST major buy 3 textbooks each that would bring a total of
8709 textbooks. Let’s say that on average regular textbook has 400 pages or 200 sheets of
paper and if we multiply 8709 textbooks by 200 it gives us 1,741,800 sheets of paper used.
According to Technical Association for Pulp and Paper Industry(TAPPI) it takes 8 feet wide, 4
feet deep, and 4 feet high piece of 100% wood also known as cords(type of measure) to
produce 1,500 pounds of paper in other words 300 reams or 150,000 sheets. In order to print
8709 textbooks paper manufacturing company would require 12 cords. In conclusion this
means that each semester paper manufacturing companies use up to 12 cords of wood to
publish 8709 textbooks, which estimates 4-5 large timber trees that could be preserved each
semester. Thirdly, there are many other factors such as weariness of the textbooks, physical
weight and size that contribute towards user dissatisfaction. According to my ongoing online
survey out of 50 students, 37 responded that they would rather use Electronic textbook which
would substitute all regular textbooks that they use and only 13 responded that they would not
consider using Electronic textbook.
Already existing prototype of such electronic device is Amazon’s electronic book called Kindle. It
is a slim device just over 1.3 of an inch, almost as thin as regular pencil, and weighs only 10.2
ounces which is greatly lighter than any textbooks starting from 1 lb and up to 8 lbs. More
importantly it can substitute up 1,500 regular textbooks. Also main characteristic of device is
text-to-speech feature which reads any text to the user. From 13,537 reviews provided by
owners of kindle device has received 4 stars out of five on Amazon’s website. Currently the
price on such device is 300$. If implemented into college of IST, university would require extra
692,700 dollars in order to buy such device for each student. However, this amount would be
greatly decreased if University agrees to implement such device and makes a contract with
company producing the device. Also, alternative to solve the financial requirement can be by
increasing technical fee of students, only if student body agrees to implement such technology.
Currently I have scheduled an interview with IST professor Steven Haynes, who agreed to speak
with me regarding such implementation and the overall feasibility. Steven Haynes is a very well
known professor in University of Pennsylvania who lectures many courses one of them is IST
331 Organization and design of Information Systems. More importantly, Steven Haynes has
great knowledge when it comes to development and implementations of such technologies.
This interview will help me establish whether such technology would be beneficial to university
Next objective to be covered is a research study whether such technology is secure. In other
words there are many risks involved in implementation of such device, one of them is will the
students purchase the books legally or go out of their way and try to download textbooks from
third party illegally.
Last objective would be to research the overall benefits to the students. Which should not be
very hard, there are many resources online that provide reviews and feedback regarding similar
devices such as Kindle being used towards education.
So far only one third of the work has been completed. However most of the fundamental
resources have been located and reviewed in order to write the feasibility report. So far good
progress is being made with online survey which has collected 50 responses from students and
will be collecting even more. Also good research has been made on the prototype of the device.
Specifically how much would it cost to implement and user reviews. Next steps in the report
would be to conduct interview with a professor Steven Haynes and finish researching remaining
work. In the end, the last step would be to organize the date and more importantly provide
visual images to better demonstrate results of the research. Feasibility report should be on time
and turned in by no later than previously established deadline.