College and university faculty are slowly warming up to digital course materials, even though the vast majority (93%) primarily used print textbooks in the last academic year, according to the first Faculty Watch survey conducted by NACS OnCampus Research.
Despite the high use of print last year, fewer profs are sticking with print this fall. Just 81% are planning to require paper course materials for their classes this year. In lieu of some or all of their print materials, 63% of instructors are asking students to log into digital materials through the institution’s learning management system, 36% are adopting digital textbooks, and 28% are requiring access codes for publisher-produced content online.
All in all, most faculty have reached a fairly high level of ease with digital technology in the classroom. Only 7% of Faculty Watch respondents said they are not at all comfortable with e-technology, while at the other end of the spectrum 29% feel extremely at home with digital tech. Most are in the middle: 23% are very comfortable, 25% slightly, and 16% moderately.
Still, faculty expressed some concerns about the efficacy of some digital formats. Almost one quarter of them said e-textbooks were not as effective as their print counterparts in aiding students to absorb and comprehend information. However, they hold a higher regard for online content accessed through a code: 49% of instructors felt this type of material actually helps students to learn better.
The difference may lie in the fact that much of the access-code content has been developed specificially for online consumption with extra bells and whistles to assist students and instructors, while some e-books are still little more than PDFs.