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I work for a company in the Canadian academic publishing industry.

In Canada, it is illegal to require students to pay for their own testing. By law, those textbooks which come with the Access Code for an online quiz are not allowed (if the teacher actually collects the marks for those quizzes). The funny thing is that this law is hardly being enforced! Other posters are right in their encouraging students to make a stand, because the law already backs them up here. With all of the protests in Montreal, I wouldn't be surprised if Quebec were to be the first to fall.

There's a twist to this story, however, and it's analogous to Cold War military spending. During that time, the government was in a position of not knowing how much was enough, so they poured in as much as they could, and that probably lead to a lot of innovation from minds that might not have gotten a chance to do this stuff without the money being there. Granted, it also made a lot of people in American academia pretty fat and happy.

The company I work for is an innovator. We are taking advantage of this high-margin market to fund TONS of desperately-needed R&D in education and provide new kinds of learning products. The axe will come down one day, inevitably, but in the meantime, I at least hope to move the dial on learning methods from 1912 to 2012 and beyond.

Once students do take a stand, the good thing is that they at least won't be getting ripped off directly. Sooner or later though, teachers are going to be demanding their online quiz software back. That'll be a perfect opportunity for a company such as Blackboard to swoop in and add licensing fees to their own embedded quizzing software. This will be easy to digest for school administrators who can see the advantage of the upgrade. But that's when things get back into a stalemate position. Sure, it might be possible to build technology that vastly enhances the understanding of a subject through modelling, etc, but why fund it if either it doesn't change the money coming in to Blackboard or costs the schools too much (would be eating directly into staff salaries, unless you make an argument for the need to hire fewer TA's...).

At that point, I would bet that you might be seeing more innovative models coming from nationally-funded development programs for textbooks (as mentioned in another post), similar to the extremely high innovation that comes out of an organization such as the National Film Board of Canada (http://www.nfb.ca/), clearly run by smart brains. Government orgs aren't generally known for innovation, but it really only takes one country somewhere to do it and others can copy. Otherwise, we will probably have some areas where the model is still predominantly that of selling directly to students, and they would have the funding at least to do this kind of development (though there's probably a 10% chance they would squander what's left of the tits they've been milking for years).

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