From the perspective of college faculty, the digital rights management (DRM) controls that are inherent in commercial electronic textbooks simply serve to prevent students from acquiring or fully utilizing their course materials. In the end, that means students aren’t as prepared for class as they should be.
In an article for Educause Review Online, Gerd Kortemeyer, associate professor of physics education at Michigan State University, makes an argument for replacing e-textbooks with a “truly interactive, adaptive, and individualizing online coursepack—instead of a PDF file with static book content—delivered via a free course management application to any web-capable client platform.”
Kortemeyer, who is also director of the Learning Online Network with Computer-Assisted Personalized Approach (LON-CAPA) project, sees a number of advantages to distributing course materials through the school’s learning management system. Among them: It would be easier for faculty to assemble a collection of the exact readings they want for their classes and to display materials during lectures. Students could access their coursepacks from anywhere with one login (including studies abroad), right from the first day of class—no more waffling about whether to buy materials or not.
Students would still have to pay for their class coursepacks, he noted. The system would add up the cost for each student and charge a single fee.
“The question we face in education today is: Will textbook publishers stick with the dead-end strategy or opt for a model that actually supports the education process?” he wrote.