Digital Learning Materials and e-Text (Electronic Textbook) Frequently Asked Questions

The College is proud to announce a new textbook solution for many of our classes! This solution is more affordable than buying traditional books and offers a more interactive, exciting, and educational experience.

These frequently asked questions contain valuable information with regard to the newly adopted, digital learning materials.


1. What are digital learning materials and e-Texts?

Digital learning materials are publisher software and e-Text material adopted by the college. They provide a completely digital experience that is loaded and accessed directly through and in Blackboard. However, if you would like a printed version, that is up to you. In fact, at this time, all courses using e-Texts also offer loose-leaf textbooks in addition to the e-Text for a nominal cost at the bookstore.

2. How do I access digital learning materials for my class?

When you log into your Blackboard course, everything you need is loaded and ready to use. Make sure your pop-up blocker is disabled within your browser. You may also add the software or e-Text to the approved or allowed list within your pop-up blocker application.

3. Is there help available?

Yes! Each faculty member has been trained to help you with the e-Text component. You can also go to the tutoring center on North or South Campus for assistance. Finally, each publisher provides technical support for its products. Below is a list of common vendors and their contact information:

4. Which internet browsers work the best with Blackboard and integrated digital learning materials?

We recommend using Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome; sometimes Internet Explorer presents compatibility issues.

5. What happens if I drop a class?

If you drop any class before the census date, you will receive a refund for the digital materials fee. If you elect to purchase a loose-leaf copy of the text, it will not be able to be returned or refunded. The census date is the date on which the college certifies student enrollment for all financial aid, as well as state funding. In the case of an all-digital course, you will not have to buy the loose-leaf again (if you opted to buy one), but you will have to pay for the materials fee again when you re-register. Please be advised that census dates vary by section. These dates depend on criteria such as credit hours, course length, course meeting days, and start date. Your instructor will provide you with the exact census date for your course on the first day of class; this date may also be listed in the course syllabus.

6. What are the benefits of using digital learning materials?

You have access to your course materials on the first day of class! No sold-out bookstores and lower costs. For example, a new, printed version of the ENG handbook costs approximately $92 when purchased through the bookstore. Through the digital initiative, you spend $21.45. There are no access codes, so when you pay the materials fee at the time of registration, everything you need to be successful in the course is paid for and available as soon as the course opens.

7. What is the materials cost that I see on my bill or receipt?

The materials cost covers the cost of the e-Text and digital materials you will need for some courses. When students register for these courses, the cost is paid when paying for the course.

8. Is there training available for me so I can get used to my digital course materials?

Yes! Our tutoring centers, based inside the LRC on both North and South Campuses, offer support to students. Jenny Billings, the chair of ACA, DRE, and ENG, is also a contractor for Cengage Learning and you can reach her at (jenny.billings@rccc.edu) for assistance with any Cengage product.

9. What research or testing did the College do before launching online textbooks in all of these courses?

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has had digital solutions in place since 2009. For example, some classes offered online lab work while other courses gave students the option to rent or purchase digital textbooks. The college has seen many different models since the start of the digital pilot. Since then, we have tried several products, companies and access solutions and because of this, have learned valuable lessons about the best way to bring this cost-effective model to our campuses. Through the pilots conducted in English, between summer 2013 and summer 2014, we have learned the following:

  • Publisher content, and Blackboard, works best in the Mozilla Firefox browser.
  • Publisher content usually launches in a new window; therefore, all pop-up blockers need to be disabled or set to allow the publisher content to launch properly (if students do not wish to completely disable the pop-up blocker).
  • There needs to be a help folder in all Blackboard courses with 24/7 IT contact information.
  • Digital content needs to be platform independent meaning that students can access their content from their phone, tablet, iPad, laptop, etc. We cannot limit how students access their materials.
  • We need extensive computer accessibility to assist students while on our campuses; this can happen through our LRCs, open labs, tutoring centers and time set aside in available computer classrooms and labs throughout the day.
  • Students should be able to use their financial aid to purchase devices to access these solutions, which we have found students can. Students are allowed one electronic device via financial aid and would need to submit a form to purchase one (usually during the second week of classes).
  • Finally, our biggest hurdle was that we were using access codes. Access codes created difficulty because:
    1. They were purchased through the bookstore and can sometimes be sold out,
    2. Students can lose their access codes or enter them incorrectly, and
    3. Students were mistakenly registering their access codes on the wrong websites (outside of Blackboard), causing the access codes to appear used and needing to be reset. This held up the process and often frustrated students.

Effective in fall 2014, the liberal arts division went access code-free. We are excited about the possibilities that these solutions will provide; for example:

  • e-Texts provide many benefits for students, faculty and administration: they offer multiple modes of instruction for all learners, including videos, quizzes, charts, and presentations.
  • Students will have their required materials right away, as soon as they access the course for the first time.
  • Faculty can track assignment and reading completion.
  • Content is ADA compliant and will adjust to the individual’s needs.
  • Training will be provided for students, faculty, and staff.

Note: It is always a good idea to go to class before purchasing any additional texts or items. Do not purchase the optional, loose-leaf textbook until you try the e-Text materials first (you may find that you don’t need the loose-leaf).