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Course Materials Initiative (CMI)

CMI provides digital course materials (eTextbooks and/or courseware) through Blackboard integration. 

The goals of CMI are to (1) provide students as a whole with more affordable course materials, (2) enhance the students’ experience on a common digital platform via Blackboard, and (3) position UMBC to be ahead of the curve with digital content. Negotiations were conducted directly with publishers to provide students with reduced pricing. Students enrolled in courses using CMI have had a course materials charge included on their tuition bill. Students can access the digital textbook and any publisher integrations (such as Aleks or WebAssign) directly via Blackboard with enhanced features such as highlighting, note taking and assistive technologies. Once you download the Bookshelf app, you can download your eBook to any of your mobile devices and access it anywhere – even without a connection!

For a one page student summary click here.

CMI LIVE LISTClick to view Google Spreadsheet of CMI courses/sections information for the current semester. This is the most up to date listing

Have a suggestion or comment? We'd love to know! Click here to submit

Changing Status

CMI STATUS CHANGE DEADLINE FOR WINTER 22: FRIDAY, JANUARY 7th 2022

All students have complimentary access to CMI Materials until the last day of the status change deadline; All students will see their CMI status as "Opted In" until then, even if not officially opted in (extension courses). PLEASE READ YOUR CMI EMAILS AS THEY WILL CONTAIN INFORMATION REGARDING ACTION NEEDED TO AVOID LOSS OF ACCESS.

OPT IN for EXTENSION COURSES ONLY - CLICK HERE FOR THE WINTER 22 ONLINE OPT IN FORM - If you did not take the prior level of a CMI sequence in CMI at UMBC OR if you are outside of the access period (2 years), you will need to submit this opt in form to have continued CMI access beyond the status change deadline. Email reminders are sent out to students at-risk of losing CMI access so exceptions will not be made after the deadline has passed and CMI access has been removed.

 OPT OUT - In "My Textbooks & Course Resources" tool within the CMI course's Blackboard, you will see an opt out button available until the deadline. This tool is in the CMI Course's Blackboard Shell. It is not available until the instructor opens their Blackboard shell to students. 

Note: If the course is using courseware and you opt out, you will lose CMI given access and will need to find other means to access this. Check the CMI LIVE LIST above if you're not sure what is included in your courses' CMI. 

OPTING BACK IN - If you've opted out and would like to OPT back IN, simply visit the same course within the "My Textbooks & Course Resources" tool and you will see an OPT IN button.

RETAKES - No action required. Our system keeps track of enrollment and will mark students continuation who are considered a valid retake. If you think you should be marked retake but are not being recognized as such, please contact [email protected] BEFORE the deadline. 

CMI Status is per course per semester! This means you can opt out of CMI for a single course one semester, but still have CMI access for a different course in the same or different semester. This is to ensure flexibility. We want students to do what works best for them. 

Adjustments to CMI Charges in Student Billing will be posted after CMI status finalization (status change deadline)

Understanding CMI Emails

CMI Emails are generally sent from [email protected]. These emails contain important CMI information such as status change deadlines, updates to materials, troubleshooting, access information, etc. Please add this contact to avoid having important emails being sent to your spam folder.

CMI emails sent from [email protected] will always list all your enrolled CMI courses at the bottom with status per course. 

More on the way. Thank you for your patience. 

AOK Library Resources 

If you prefer physical books but want to take advantage of the cost-savings CMI provides, please visit the AOK Library. The UMBC Bookstore has two print copies of each course material at the AOK Library's Circulation Desk.

Students may check out a copy for three hours at a time. If no other student is waiting to use the same material, the copy may be checked out for another three hours. These copies may not be removed from the library for any reason. This is the perfect resource for study sessions. 

Helpful Tools on VitalSource

To ensure you have access to all the tools the Course Materials Initiative (CMI) offers through VitalSource, please watch the tutorials below:

Navigating the Bookshelf Library
Inside the Book
Highlights and Notes
Sharing and Subscribing

For more information on the VitalSource Bookshelf functions:

Printing from the Online Bookshelf
Using the Microsoft OneNote Integration
Using the Wikipedia Look up Tool
Highlighting
Downloading For Offline Use

Frequently Asked Questions
    LIVE CMI LISTClick to view Google Spreadsheet of CMI courses/sections information for the current semester. This is the most up to date listing (CMI LIVE LIST!)

You will know when you register for the course. The following message will be displayed: "This course is part of the UMBC Course Materials Initiative in which reduced pricing was negotiated directly with the publisher for all students enrolling in this course. The course materials are provided in a common digital platform to all students; a course materials charge of $____ will be included on all students’ tuition bills for these materials (so students are not to buy these materials from any other source). The digital textbook and any online publisher integrations associated with your instructor-selected text are accessed directly via Blackboard. [Please note that your instructor may have additional materials required for your course that are not included in this Initiative, but which will be available in the UMBC Bookstore.]"

A CMI extension course is a second or third semester course for which the first semester is a participating CMI course. This means that if a student has taken the first semester CMI course, they should still have access to their materials for the second and third semester. Any students that are entering the second and third semester without taking the first semester have the ability to OPT INTO CMI, by submitting the online OPT IN Google form for the current semester by the last day of the schedule adjustment period. The link to the current form is found above under the "Changing Status" section.

The charge varies from class to class depending on the course materials required. Check the CMI LIVE LIST above for CMI course information, including charges.

The CMI charge is automatically billed to your student account when you enroll in the course for CMI Bases, and is paid like any other charge. For CMI extensions, the charge is added to your student account after the status change deadline. For both CMI bases and extensions, any excess financial aid loan or scholarship disbursements will also apply against open Course Material charges.

  • Lower-priced course materials.
  • Access your course materials by the first day of class.
  • Pay on your student bill, just like tuition. A course materials charge is included on all registered students’ tuition bill for the courses in this program. This allows you to use budget billing for your course materials!
  • Common digital format – say goodbye to heavy backpacks & bulky books, and feel good about this environmentally-friendly alternative. (Don’t worry there are print options available for those who want it.)
  • Access your course materials wherever and whenever. Once you download your digital book to your bookshelf app, you can access it anywhere – even without a connection! You can study using up to 4 devices; go from your desktop, to your laptop, to your iPad/ Kindle, to your Android/iPhone.
  • Single sign-on. When you enroll in a CMI course, an ADA compliant, common digital format of your textbook and ancillaries, such as Aleks or WebAssign, automatically uploads onto your Blackboard account.

Students are able to print up to 25 pages per login at no other cost than the cost of paper and ink. The UMBC Bookstore has two print copies of each course material at the AOK Library's Circulation Desk. A student is also able to opt out by the status change deadline and purchase their own material through separate means.

For the Textbook and online publisher integrations there is 24/7 online support.

All students are given temporary two week access to the course materials. If you drop the class during UMBCs schedule adjustment period you will be refunded your CMI charge. If you drop the class after the schedule adjustment period, you will not be refunded, but you will be able to maintain access to the course materials through your VitalSource account.

  • If in a previous semester you were enrolled in a course that is now part of the CMI but wasn't CMI at the time of the initial attempt- this is not a CMI retake. If you still have access to the material you originally purchased for the first attempt and would like to use that instead of CMI material, please opt out of CMI. If you do not have access to your previous material and would like to use CMI material, you will need to remain opted in and pay the CMI charge.
  • If you are retaking a course that was part of the CMI in both previous and current semesters with the SAME materials and within a TWO YEAR period of the initial attempt; You will be refunded the current attempt's CMI charge after the schedule adjustment period. Retakes within two years of the same materials are considered valid CMI Retakes.
  • CMI retakes are automatically tracked by the CMI system and require no action on the student's part. Students with a valid retake will automatically be flagged to have their current CMI charge removed or refunded while having their access continued.

Your course materials are located within your course on Blackboard. Once your professor activates the course, you will be able to access them. Your professor decides where in the course to place the link to the course materials – for example, this could be in the Syllabus or Course Documents content area.

  • Click on a link to an eTextbook to access the digital resource. Your professor may choose to deep link to eTextbook chapters.
  • After your CMI course's Blackboard shell is opened to students, you can access the eTextbook by:
    • Click on the "My Textbooks & Course Resources" tool within the CMI course's Blackboard shell. Click the "Read Now" button. This will open a new tab where you will either need to login in or sign up for VitalSource to have the eTextbook added to your VitalSource Bookshelf.
    • Read the eTextbook after downloading the VitalSource App to your chosen device(s).
    • Or once you have setup a VitalSource account, you can access your eTextbook directly through the VitalSource website.
  • For more information on synchronizing your VitalSource account to your Blackboard account click here.
  • For more Blackboard troubleshooting, click here.

You can log into VitalSource directly and access your course materials in your Bookshelf, which you would have created the first time you logged into your materials through Blackboard. For most publishers, as long as you download the App and the book for offline use you will have access to that title perpetually.

You can download the Bookshelf app from here for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Kindle or any other device you may be using.

The Student Government Association has been very supportive of CMI, and encouraged the Bookstore to proceed with the pilot program for Spring 2016. At that time, the then SGA President, Anthony Jankoski, provided the Bookstore with a letter of endorsement of CMI. In May, the SGA passed a resolution endorsing the CMI, which can be read here.

In Spring 2016, the Bookstore sent out a survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.
In Fall 2016, the Bookstore sent out another survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.
In Spring 2017, the Bookstore sent out another survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.
In Fall 2017, the Bookstore sent out another survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.
In Spring 2018, the Bookstore sent out another survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.
In Fall 2018, the Bookstore sent out another survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.

If the Frequently Asked Questions did not resolve your issue please contact us.

Refund Policies and Procedures

You will receive a 100 percent refund of the Course Materials charge if you drop the class before the final schedule adjustment day, regardless of whether the course materials have been accessed.

No refund will be issued after the final schedule adjustment day.

Faculty Resources: FAQs

Students in a participating course/section are provided with their faculty selected course materials in a digital format (with print options available). The digital course materials include ebooks and ancillaries such as WebAssign, Aplia and ALEKS, if applicable, from publishers under contract with UMBC. The course materials are integrated into Blackboard, UMBC’s learning management system, via VitalSource (the common digital platform), for all courses and sections participating. A course materials charge is included on the student bill when they have registered for a participating course.

As public pressure continues to mount about the challenges of college costs, federal, state and the USM Board of Regents have enacted laws and policies to specifically reduce the cost of textbooks. The various laws and policies encourage exploring more options for lower cost course materials, including digital materials. UMBC’s Bookstore has tried various options, including textbook rentals, developing a textbook buying guide, and collaborating with faculty for timely textbook adoption, with limited success in reducing costs significantly. CMI was identified as a path to make greater reductions in course material costs. It is intended to provide a broader group of students with cost savings ranging from 15 to 55%, depending on the textbooks and ancillary materials selected with an average savings of 34%. There is also a sense that digital content is the direction the course materials providers are heading, as well as some Maryland public school systems, and it would be helpful to be ahead of that curve.

APA, Cengage, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, Norton, Pearson, Sage and Wiley.

Based on faculty textbook adoptions, the Bookstore with its consultant, identifies the price per the contracts with the publishers to identify those courses with potential for savings to students. Once the draft list of courses is compiled, Bookstore staff contact the applicable Program Directors/Coordinators and individual faculty members to ask if they choose to have their course participate in CMI; based on the faculty decisions, the list of courses participating in CMI is finalized. Orientation for faculty is offered through the Division of Information Technology on the use and available functionality features of the digital platform; a faculty orientation video is available here. Any faculty member who is interested in their course(s) participating in CMI, can send an email directly to the Course Materials department.

All students registering for those courses will receive direct communication about the CMI program; and, CMI information is incorporated in the registration materials including course descriptions in PeopleSoft. Students also have a choice of whether to obtain their course materials via CMI or from another source; students have until the end of the schedule adjustment period to make their decision.

Students access them via single sign-in on Blackboard, which includes a link to VitalSource’s bookshelf. Students can download their e-books to their computer, as well as multiple devices for off-line access. The agreements with publishers gives students access to their e-textbook for three years (3), and the ancillaries, such as Aleks or WebAssign, for 1 – 2 years, allowing for course retakes, and use of materials for connected next course segments. If, for any reason, a student encounters difficulty with their content, the Bookstore is available during business hours, and there is 24/7 on-line technical support available. If a student drops the class during UMBC’s schedule adjustment period, the CMI charge will be refunded. If a student drops the class after the allowed schedule adjustment period, they will not receive a refund, but will be able to maintain access to the course materials through their VitalSource account.

A number of questions and concerns have been raised under this theme. First, charges for course materials provided through CMI are added to a student’s regular tuition and fee bill. Students may pay in the same ways they can pay their regular bills, including applying financial aid and scholarship funds to the charges. Sales tax is added for the materials as digital content is no longer exempt from Maryland sales tax. Students have access to their e-textbook for three years, which provides for course retakes and for follow-on sequences that use the same textbook. Students also receive access to ancillary materials, like Aleks and WebAssign, for 1 to 2 years, depending on the individual providers.

There are three print options available to students. The first option is to print up to ten pages per login, at no other cost than the cost of paper and ink. The second option is to purchase a print on demand copy from the publisher via VitalSource for an additional fee. Acceptable forms of payment are limited to debit cards and credit cards. The third option is print copies available for free on reserve in the UMBC library. Students also may opt out of CMI by clicking the opt out button for the course's material in their "My Textbook and Course Resources" tool in Blackboard. They may then purchase their course materials from another source in any format available.

In many cases the publishers can convert custom textbooks to the digital format. If this cannot be done, the course will not be included in CMI.

Students can highlight, take notes, copy/paste and share notes. They also have “Inside the Book” features such as “go to page”, table of contents navigation, page layout changes and multiple viewing options. Assistive technology features include ability to have the book read to the student and changing font sizes. Functionality available to faculty includes ability to connect chapters to the syllabus, create highlights for the entire class, and obtain summary data on pages viewed, highlights, annotations, etc.

The Student Government Association has been very supportive of CMI, and encouraged the Bookstore to proceed with the pilot program for Spring 2016. At that time, the then SGA President, Anthony Jankoski, provided the Bookstore with a letter of endorsement of CMI.

An article in The Retriever Weekly on 3/7/16 noted some concerns with the CMI and concluded that students should be allowed to opt out. As noted above, beginning in Fall 2016, due to a change in federal law, students may opt out of CMI by completing a form at the Bookstore. They may then purchase their course materials in any format available.

In May, the SGA passed a resolution endorsing the CMI, which can be read here.

In Spring 2016, the Bookstore sent out a survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.
In Fall 2016, the Bookstore sent out another survey to all CMI students, click here to review the results.

In Fall 2016, the Bookstore sent out a survey to all Faculty participating in CMI, click here to review the results.
In Spring 2017, the Bookstore sent out a survey to all Faculty participating in CMI, click here to review the results.
In Fall 2017, the Bookstore sent out a survey to all Faculty participating in CMI, click here to review the results.
In Spring 2018, the Bookstore sent out a survey to all Faculty participating in CMI, click here to review the results.
In Fall 2018, the Bookstore sent out a survey to all Faculty participating in CMI, click here to review the results.

If the Frequently Asked Questions did not resolve your issue please contact us.

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