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.