Most classes at College of The Albemarle (COA) require the purchase of course materials that include one or more textbooks and/or an access code for a course-related online learning system. This guide is designed to provide you with definitions for common terms associated with the process of acquiring texts for your classes. For questions related to the course materials for a specific course, please contact your course instructor.
In addition to a textbook (printed or electronic), many courses use specialized online systems that provide additional learning content, often in an interactive format. You typically must have a code to access a particular system. Access codes are often bundled with a class textbook available in the COA bookstore
. If you’re opting for e-books, you may also purchase standalone access codes from the COA bookstore.
An e-book is a book that has been digitized and stored in electronic form. E-books may be accessed via computer, tablet, or smart phone. E-books come in many different formats. Some are available in generic formats including PDF, HTML (via the web) or simple text. Others may require a special proprietary program called an eReader to access the material. Some books may be downloadable. Others may require internet access. (See Cengage Unlimited and OpenStax.)
Some classes may list a textbook bundle in the list of required materials. A bundle is a collection of items, typically including one or more texts and/or software access code(s). Textbooks are usually offered as a bundle to reduce the cost from what it would be to purchase each of the component items separately. ISBN numbers for textbook bundles are created special by the textbook publisher; therefore, you’ll not be able to purchase from another source other than the COA bookstore.
Some courses require you to take an end-of-term certification or licensing exams. A voucher is a pre-paid access code needed for you to take the certification or licensing exam.
Common Textbook Options
This traditional approach to acquiring class textbooks is the one with which you’re probably familiar. If a course requires you to purchase a printed version of a textbook or purchase a printed-card access key, these items will be available for sale in the college bookstore. Textbooks may be hard-cover, soft-cover, or even loose-leaf pages (also known as al la carte), depending upon the item.
Follett Access is an initiative that delivers required course materials digitally to students. For MAT courses, this includes the MyMathLab (MML) access code and e-book. MML access codes are required to complete assignments in all MAT courses.
COA Follett Access
Cengage Publishing offers a digital (e-book) textbook subscription service called Cengage Unlimited (CU). The CU subscription provides online access to a huge library of Cengage texts and academic learning systems for a single price. Courses that use Cengage texts may offer you this option. Only one subscription per student per term is needed, no matter how many Cengage books or online learning systems are accessed.
Subscription price is $119 plus tax per semester.*
Rental Textbook Option: Once subscribed to Cengage Unlimited (see above), you’ll typically find they have the option to rent printed copies of their texts from a third-party vendor called Chegg. You may get rental copies at a low price (approx $7.99 plus shipping per text) shipped directly to you. Please note: Chegg is a third-party vendor not connected to the college. You’re responsible for meeting any rental agreement terms. COA doesn’t necessarily endorse all products and services that Chegg offers.
*Cengage also offers pricing plans for one- and two-year subscriptions. This may be useful those whose program of study has many classes that use Cengage published texts or online learning systems.
OpenStax is a non-profit educational provider of peer-reviewed online and printed textbooks. Digital (electronic/e-book) versions of the texts are free
. You may find a link to the free digital download on the course schedule or from your course instructor. Printed copies of the book may be available at a low price (typically $30 to $60 per text) through the COA bookstore.
Common Online Systems Needing Purchased Access Codes
Cengage Now is a web-based system created by Cengage Publishing that offers online business-oriented learning materials and interactive content. CengageNow access codes are generally included in the official course textbook bundle for the class. CengageNow is also available through Cengage Unlimited.
The MyLab systems are web-based educational systems created by Pearson Publishing. They offer a variety of learning activities and interactive content available for different subjects areas including MyProgrammingLab for programming classes. MyLab access codes are included in the official textbook bundle for the class from the COA bookstore. If you’re opting for e-books, you may also purchase standalone access codes from the COA bookstore.
MyLabsPlus is a learning management system created by Pearson Publishing. They offer a variety of learning activities and interactive content different subjects areas including mathematics and statistics. If you’re taking a multi-sequence math course such as MAT 171-172 or MAT 271-273, you only need to purchase the access code for the first course in the sequence. The same code can be used for the subsequent courses in the sequence. MyLab access codes are included in the official textbook bundle for the class. If you’re opting for e-books, you may also purchase standalone access codes from the COA bookstore. It’s important to note that MyLabsPlus and MyMathLab access codes are not the same thing. You’re required to purchase a MyLabsPlus access code, which is available from the COA Bookstore. MyLabsPlus offers a free 14-day trial access for those who don’t have their materials on the first day of class. Once your 14-day trial expires, you’ll be prompted to enter a new code before you can resume your assignments in MyLabsPlus.
SAM is a web-based system created by Cengage Publishing that offers training and projects on Microsoft Office based applications. It’s often required in computer fundamental courses or software application courses. Although available as an individual purchase, it’s much more cost-effective to acquire SAM access codes with an official course textbook bundle or Cengage Unlimited.
MindTap is a web-based system created by Cengage Publishing that offers a full, interactive e-book, readable online or off, study tools, and assessments. Access to MindTap can be gained via a course textbook bundle or Cengage Unlimited.
iLrn is a language learning platform created by Cengage Publishing. This all-in-one resource helps you engage and improve your understanding of a new language as you listen, speak, read and write in a foreign language. It includes a variety of easy-to-use communication tools, study tools and activities, assessments, and an interactive e-book. To access iLrn you need to purchase an access code. This can be purchased as a part of bundle (access code plus textbook) from the COA bookstore or accessed through Cengage Unlimited.
Common Software Requirement
Some courses require you to use Microsoft Office. AS a COA student, you may download Office 365 University with Office 2016 for free using your COA student account. (Be aware Office 2016 for PCs isn’t identical to Office 2016 for Macs. There is currently no Office version available for Chromebooks.)
COA Technology FAQ
If you’re having technical problems with any of these online systems, visit technology FAQ for further information, including a toll-free number for technical support.
If you have questions about your text options, contact your course instructor or the COA bookstore for more information.