June 11th, 2014
Written by: Legend Dastrup, Technical Writer/Communication Assistant
Weber State University, IT Department.
E-Textbooks have been finding their place in classrooms for over 20 years now, and two studies done by EDUCAUSE in 2013 highlight the importance and needs of E-Textbooks in higher education, which are broken into 5 major categories: Cost, Availability, Portability, Functionality, and Innovation.
Following the goals and aims of Weber State University, we want to make sure both students and faculty have easy access to content needed, for the importance of learning from the courses taught here on campus. The EDUCAUSE article The Current State and Potential Future of E-Textbooks, talks about the increase of exposure to e-textbooks in the K-12 grades, and how more students of this digital age are graduating high school with the expectation of colleges having e-textbooks.
The access students have to e-textbooks is directly related to the availability talked about in both articles. While cost is number one on the list, availability is a close second. In the article Understanding What Higher Education Needs from E-Textbooks, they provide a summary figure of the major importance and needs of e-textbooks. As shown in the figure, the access of e-textbooks consists of three central categories: Functionality, Portability, and Availability. The versatility of e-textbooks caters to all types of students and in all areas of study. Not only are the e-textbooks easily portable, but accessed through any wi-fi point connected by the tablets, smartphones, and computers students carry with them almost constantly. The wi-fi is readily available nearly one hundred percent of the time here on campus, which means students have very few excuses to not read and be prepared for class. The e-textbooks themselves aren’t always good for every type of studying students do, but the versatility they offer allows students the option to read the e-textbook however they choose.
The second figure here from The Current State and Potential Future article, shows how students use e-textbooks, and their preferences to digital text opposed to hard copies. The nice thing about e-textbooks however, is the ability to print and have hard copies on hand to appease the greater number of students who learn better by having notes and highlights on material they can hold, read, and flip through. While it isn’t a flawless process, all types of learning are still catered to, and it is cheaper than buying a textbook. A percentage of students are also benefitting the community by staying green and saving paper.
The overall versatility of e-textbooks is hard to ignore, and while they aren’t always flawless in their format compatibility across digital devices, they are almost always readily available on one device or another. Weber State University has many ways for students to access what they need all across campus, and letting students know how to use what is offered, is of paramount importance.
Aside from the primary bonus of offering a great price for renting or buying the e-textbooks; the combination of easy access, versatility by catering to different learning styles, and the efficiency of saving paper for the community, are all excellent reasons for WSU classrooms to consider using e-textbooks as often as possible.
- https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELIB1304.pdf The Current State and Potential Future of E-Textbooks
- http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ers1307/ERS1307es.pdf Understanding What Higher Education Needs from E-Textbooks: An EDUCAUSE/Internet2 Pilot