The market to faculty mantra has come up in a few places lately. The facilitator at Innovate pushed this point on the second day. In a posting to this blog late last week, a reader responded with the same point. I and others have also been questioning how well stores *really know* their faculty and the state of their faculty relations.
We know faculty, on the whole, are a barrier to successful adoption of digital course materials, and that they currently prefer not to select the e-book. We also know that the largest influencer of what course materials a student accesses or acquires in a course are faculty comments and recommendations.
I heard an interesting anecdote yesterday about how one company that was working with e-book pilots on campuses had a class where students could get the course materials for free. The faculty member supported the initiative, but made a joke in the class that he was more of a luddite, slower to adopt technology, but that the students should go ahead and try the digital as they were far ahead of them. Even at FREE, students chose not to take the digital in this case, presumably because of the faculty comments.
In focus groups that others conducted we heard that students will typically buy not only what the faculty member recommends, but what the faculty member uses. The students reported that even if they preferred the digital option, they were concerned that if they did not use content in the same format as the faculty member that they might not be as successful in the class.
With the cost of textbooks continually on the rise, how long will such perceptions hold out? What will it take to improve faculty relations for college stores? What will it take for more faculty to adopt digital versions of their course materials? What will it take for students to decide that the savings currently offered by most digital options are worth the risk of a lower grade?
I must note, in response to this last question, that this may be more perception than reality. Researchers with OhioLINK reported no statistical difference between students who used digital versus print in their classroom experiments. I did read a study somewhere suggesting that students did take longer to study in the e-book format, and that was attributed to eye fatigue issues. I do not recall how significant the effect was, however.
Getting back to the main point -- faculty will have an effect on the adoption of digital course materials. Stores need to interact with faculty to understand their needs and interests, and how they use content to enhance the learning and educational experience. That may provide new insights into how we can meet student and faculty needs in ways we currently may or may not be doing.