Vice Provost for Information Technology, and Chief Information Officer
eText clock is ticking for textbook publishers
September 23, 2013
eTexts are the future.
Students may favor paper textbooks now but the convenience of the digital form will tip the scales. The UW-Madison’s first pilot through the Internet2 NET+ service indicated the majority of students preferred paper. However our most recent pilot (a year later) suggests that the ability to access multiple textbooks on a laptop or tablet adds a quantum leap of convenience that is shifting student opinion toward digital. Students say the convenience factor is not just lightening their backpack but also enables them to quickly locate a passage or homework problem in class, in study groups and at computer kiosks. Some students who read eTexts on tablets use apps that let them blend notes from their lecture, textbook, or homework problems into one digital document they use for studying. While this currently is a small subset of students, they are the most enthusiastic about digital textbooks.
Curricular changes at universities will make e-content more important.
Blended learning, flipped classrooms, the availability of content in MOOCs all reduce the focus on traditional lectures. Many instructors routinely provide students with a more compact version of the course textbook—the lecture presentation file. Students say that one reason they don’t buy or use textbooks they have purchased (or were given for free in pilots) is that they can get the content they need to succeed by attending lectures and using the presentation slides to study. But in blended and flipped scenarios, where lectures are shifted online or minimized, students may rely more on textbooks to prepare for and to use as resources for activities during class, as well as for assignments and exams.Read the rest of the article