Students and faculty say traditional textbooks are too costly and they want an alternative, but also question whether the e-textbooks will ever offer significant savings, according to a new report from the Educause Center for Analysis and Research.
Understanding What Higher Education Needs from E-Textbooks: An Educause/Internet2 Pilot is the result of an e-text study conducted in the fall of 2012 at 23 colleges and universities. McGraw-Hill Education and e-textbook provider Courseload delivered e-texts to 5,000 students and faculty in nearly 400 undergraduate and graduate courses.
The study found that faculty and students want a choice of platforms for reading e-texts, the ability to access content offline, the freedom to opt out of e-textbooks, and still be able to choose paper textbooks. Respondents also said they need technical support to make use of new formats and that consumer experiences with electronic content drive their expectations of e-textbooks.
“This study demonstrates that institutions and the marketplace must first remove barriers that exist even in today’s paper textbook market, most notably cost,” said Susan Grajek, vice president for data, research, and analytics for Educause. “Challenges innate to electronic content must also be addressed, including availability of materials where and when students need them, compatibility with the devices students own and prefer to use, and the kind of functionality that comes from good interface design. The solutions will come from many sources, but through this study students and faculty have clarified their needs.”