As the cost of higher education continues to rise, digital natives are getting restless. Course materials, such as textbooks, can be one of the largest expenditures for a college student. The average student will spend more than $1,100 per year on books and supplies.
Migrating to digital technology, such as e-textbooks, can help ease this financial burden. E-textbooks are a less expensive alternative to traditional textbooks, and they combine Internet connectivity with interactive content to enhance learning and foster collaboration.
Laptops and tablets are the most common devices for digital educational material. Because students already use this technology in their personal lives, it’s time for the university system to make the jump. At Indiana University, Brad Wheeler, CIO and vice president for information and technology, recently instituted an e-textbook pilot program:
“Everyone really understood that the textbook situation was a huge cost to students,” he says, “Faculty were seeing students who weren’t even buying books they needed for courses.” Others, seeking the best deals online, were getting their textbooks weeks after the course had started, or ending up with the wrong edition. As students don’t have a choice in the materials for a class, Wheeler felt the school had a responsibility to students, many already struggling with the financial cost of attending school, to offer more affordable options.
The use of e-textbooks for learning in higher education will continue to be an important element to watch. Incorporation of e-textbook technology allows university administrators and faculty to monitor student engagement in real time and better understand the learning experience. Certainly this kind of shift will take time, but the paramount issue is whether higher education is properly prepared for the inevitable.
The infographic below presents key elements for higher education IT professionals to consider in the digital conversion.