July 20, 2012

Website Review: Chegg

Every Friday, I share a website or app that I’ve heard about, checked into, and/or gotten excited to use. This one is an all-in-one textbook provider. I love any website that makes necessary chores easier–and this one does. If you’ve never heard of Chegg, ask your college-age children or relatives. Or look for the orange boxes in college dorms. Everyone in higher education knows about Chegg.

chegg textbooks

Chegg books, ebooks, homework help, flashcards, and more




Books, study materials




Up until a few years ago, textbooks were purchased by students and then sold back for a fraction of the cost when the class was over. They were that black hole that often prevented scholarship students from attending college–because they couldn’t afford the books.

Then in 2010, Chegg arrived, with an innovative approach to renting textbooks for about half the price of a purchase. Quickly following (in fact, the same year) were Barnes and Noble and others, but Chegg started it all out of the proverbial garage (in this case, the personal credit card of Osman Rashid and Aayush Phumbhra–the entrepreneurs whose big brains thought up this concept) and has been the engine of innovation ever since.

Let me back up a second. Despite $200 million in sales last year largely generated by textbook rentals, Chegg describes itself as “the leading network for students, transforming the way millions of students learn by connecting them to the people and tools needed to succeed in college”. Clearly, they see themselves fulfilling a more far-ranging goal than the mere rental of textbooks. And in fact, they are. Here’s a partial list of what you can do on the Chegg website:

  • rent textbooks (including ebooks)
  • buy used textbooks (or new)
  • sell back textbooks
  • create flashcards for studying (check out the Free app)
  • find a scholarship to college
  • find homework help (mostly college at this point, but check back–these two college grads who couldn’t find a job in the stuttering US economy are full of ideas. If they hadn’t started Chegg, they’d surely be working for Google Labs)
  • explore college classes including books required, students enrolled, grade distribution, and Q&A from students in the class
  • make the world a better place via Chegg for Good. From planting over 5 million trees to supporting student philanthropists that are leading the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Their mission: To empower students to be catalysts for social change on their campus, in their communities, and around the world.
  • find local education deals for students (although this doesn’t seem to be active yet)

A comment on how plugged in their people are to college student life: They offer a textbook rental app. Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Students are more likely to realize they need a book (that their bookstore is out of) with a phone in their hand than as they sit at their laptop.

There aren’t a lot of K-5 textbooks (though there are some), but that’s a massive market Chegg isn’t likely to skip for long. Can you imagine the educational equity we could experience by making quality K-5 textbooks available for half the price? Budget-strapped public schools could free up funds for other worthy purposes and private schools could provide more scholarships to needy students.

Fun fact: The name ‘chegg’ comes from the difficulty Osman and Aayush had getting a job after graduating from college. No one wanted them without experience, and they couldn’t get experience without a job–the type of quandary oft referred to as a ‘chicken-or-egg’ conundrum

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum and two tech-ed lesson plan collections for K-sixth, creator of two technology training books for middle school, and six ebooks on technology in education for K-8. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, anAmazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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