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August 27, 2012
E-Textbook Study Shows Promising But Mixed Results For Mass Use
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a study conducted by Internet2 that had tested the use of e-textbooks by students at major universities. The faculty and students used textbooks provided by McGraw-Hill and Courseload to deliver the content to students. Students were charged a materials fee rather than requiring them to purchase a book. The major findings of the study included:
- Only a minority of users elected to purchase a paper copy (12%).
- The lower cost of an eTextbook was considered the most important factor for students considering future purchase of an eText.
- The portability of eTexts also ranked very high as a factor leading to future purchase.
- Other important factors in future eText purchases included that it should be accessible without an internet connection and available throughout a student’s academic career, not just for a semester.
- Difficult readability of the text (e.g., difficult zoom feature) was mentioned numerous times by students as well as lack of native functionality on tablets such as the iPad.
- Faculty, for the most part, did not report using the enhanced eText features (sharing notes, tracking students, question/answer, additional links, etc.) and indicated the need for additional training.
- Because faculty did not use the enhanced features students saw little benefit from the eText platform’s capability of promoting collaboration with other students or with the professor.
The report seems to indicate that the implementation of e-textbooks still has a way to go before students are completely comfortable with them. As much as the students were enthusiastic about saving money and taking advantage of the perceived convenience of e-textbooks, everyone has to buy into the concept to make the delivery system work. We’ve all heard how online textbooks can utilize interactive and collaborative features for a class. It seems as if most faculty members in the study did not use these features which left the student users wanting. This may have been a training issue. One other major point is that despite being available on multiple platforms and devices, the smallest of these, smart phones, were less than optimal devices for content delivery. Of course, we wouldn’t know any of this without actually testing the impact of content, utility, and delivery systems on real students in real courses.
The full study is available here, and worth a read by anyone contemplating using e-textbooks in a production environment. [MG]
As we know how high college expenses are with textbooks making a quarter of your tuition costs, cheap textbooks is a great alternative. The more inexpensive your textbooks are the more money is left to yourself.
Posted by: Books | Sep 19, 2012 3:49:29 AM