JANUARY 20, 2012

E-texts in Higher Education

E-texts in Higher Education

library booksDo you believe that all students want to use e-textbooks for studying and learning? Is the push towards e-texts primarily driven by anticipated savings for students? Or, is it the features and capabilities e-texts are offering, or have the capability to offer, that are generating the buzz around their rapid adoption in higher education? What will it take for students to embrace the adoption of e-texts as the standard for university courses?

If you skim the headlines of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Educause, or even your local paper, you will quickly find articles and research reporting huge migrations of students from print textbooks to e-texts. If you dig deeper, you’re more likely to find that the adoptions of e-texts are running as pilots within a few selected courses, and that students are giving the products mixed reviews.

Without a doubt, the textbook publishing industry is in a major period of change. They are looking for successful business models to make e-textbooks available and affordable for students, while continuing to generate revenue for their operations. They are trying to maintain their share of the market while third-party vendors are developing e-text delivery platforms of their own that they hope students will adopt.

Mix in the need for global distribution for an organization such as City University of Seattle, and the issues surrounding e-text access and pricing are even more complex. CityU faculty and librarians are keenly interested in identifying ways to provide top-quality e-resources to its students who are studying and learning around the world. Which e-texts and e-resources best meet students’ needs, and which will they willingly adopt and use to expand their learning? Finding a single solution for e-texts, however, is not as easy as you might think.

CityU’s School of Education recently completed an e-text pilot of its own with students at three sites using the Café Scribe and Courseload e-text platforms. Students’ survey results are still being compiled as this post is written. We are also piloting the distribution of faculty desk-copies using the CourseSmart platform. Stay tuned for a summary of the lessons we’re learning from our students and faculty!


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