Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Students' Mixed Reaction to Digital

Reports on the course material preferences of college students are all over the place. Some predict the age of digital content is either just around the bend or already here, while others say students still want print.

A survey of students at Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD, found similar mixed results. The institution participated in a six-school pilot program to test new e-textbook technologies during the 2013-14 school year, finding that its students were neutral about the e-texts used, according to a report in the Aberdeen News.

A charge to cover the digital material was added to the tuition of students taking courses that were part of the pilot. The cost of the digital material was 25%-50% less than the hardcover textbook for the class.

In the fall, 85% of the students said they used a computer to access digital course materials, with 6% using a tablet or e-reader and 8% still printing out the material. Fewer students responded to the spring survey, with 67.6% saying they accessed the material on a computer and 13% printing it out.

The biggest issue for students, particularly in the fall, was technical problems with the content. Forty percent reported having trouble with their e-texts, noting that troubleshooting those issues cut into their study time.

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