Yes, a majority of college students still say they prefer to study from print textbooks rather than digital, often due to the ease of flipping back and forth or marking up pages. But sometimes their opinion depends on the type of digital materials.
Digital course materials can include pages scanned (complete with streaks and cut-off paragraphs) and converted into PDFs that are posted in the learning management system. At the other end of the spectrum, digital materials may feature an array of interactive, multimedia tools designed to help students master the content. And then there’s everything in between.
Which type of digital materials do students like best? The answer is obvious: the interactive, multimedia kind. When that’s the type of course content faculty assign, students’ opinion of digital materials becomes more favorable.
OnCampus Research, in its monthly survey of college students conducted last February, found that “55% of students are finding particular value in the electronic study tools being incorporated into some digital platforms,” according to a summary of findings. When step-by-step homework assistance was available as part of digital course materials, 85% of the students actively used it and 66% rated the tools as extremely valuable. Sixty-one percent gave the same rating to searchability (being able to search the materials by keyword or topic).
However, those capabilities don’t seem to boost purchases of digital. “Not surprisingly, though, the primary reason students choose digital isn’t the features, but because they feel it’s less expensive than print (59%),” according to OnCampus Research.