HigherEdMorning.comPrint still trumps e-books for students

Print still trumps e-books for students

September 28, 2012 by Jacob Hawley
Posted in: Academics, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, Student Life, Tech News

Why do students still prefer heavy, expensive textbooks? 

E-books are on the rise, but they’re not quite there yet for college students, according to the results of a multi-university pilot program conducted during the 2012 spring semester.

What the results show: E-books don’t yet offer the usability, visual presentation or navigation tools of their print counterparts. Students also pointed to some technical flaws, including problems with readability, induced eyestrain and incompatibility with other mobile devices.

Enhanced features like highlighting, zoom and annotations was also an issue, both for students and for faculty. While some students found those features don’t function well enough, others were frustrated that the features weren’t being fully integrated by faculty. Educators tended to use the e-books just like they would a print textbook.

While some instructors agreed, they pointed to a lack of training, while others said shared annotation features were too distracting – particularly when they were added in from other students, not the professor.

On the positive side, students whose teachers used the annotation and highlighting features said they got more out of the class, and were likely to join in on the annotations, which resulted in better performance.

Students also pointed to the significant cost savings and portability and accessibility as benefits.

How is your school integrating digital textbooks into the curriculum? Tell us in the comments section, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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