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Cost Primary Motivation for Moving From Paper Textbooks to Digital, According to FALL 2012 EDUCAUSE-Internet2 Pilot

Posted on Jul 17, 2013 by Todd Sedmak
Tags: Digital Content for Research & Education, Education, Higher Education, K20 Education, Tools & Collaboration

Higher Education Faculty, Students Want Fundamental Drivers Addressed by Campuses, E-textbook and Digital Content Providers

Washington, D.C.—(July 17, 2013)--Cost is the primary motivation for moving from paper textbooks to digital versions, according to a new report by the EDUCAUSE Center For Analysis and Research (ECAR), based on the Fall 2012 EDUCAUSE-Internet2 E-textbook pilot. The main report is available through subscription to ECAR. A publicly accessible executive summary can be downloaded on the EDUCAUSE website.

Twenty-three colleges and universities collaborated in the Fall with Internet2, EDUCAUSE, the publisher McGraw-Hill Education, and the e-textbook platform provider Courseload? to deliver digital textbooks to more than 5,000 students and faculty in 393 undergraduate and graduate courses with a median class size of 28.

Besides cost, faculty and students were both clear and consistent in their criteria for moving to digital course materials: address the basics, and then tackle availability, portability, functionality and innovation.

The pilot demonstrates:

  • Lower costs wanted: Faculty and students overwhelmingly believe today’s course materials are too expensive and both want those costs lowered. They also consider the environment in their cost calculations.
  • Choices desired: Choice of platform (including print), place of access (including offline), and sourcing textbooks.
  • Support needed: Support is needed for faculty and students to make the most effective use of new formats like e-text and digital content.
  • Digital course materials way of the future: Faculty and students expect course materials to be available on electronic devices. Their requirements are shaped by their experiences as consumers at least as much as by their experiences using institutional applications.

"This study demonstrates that institutions and the marketplace must first remove barriers that exist even in today’s paper textbook market, most notably cost,” said Susan Grajek, EDUCAUSE vice president for data, research, and analytics and report author. “Challenges innate to electronic content must also be addressed, including availability of materials where and when students need them, compatibility with the devices students own and prefer to use, and the kind of functionality that comes from good interface design. The solutions will come from many sources, but through this study students and faculty have clarified their needs.”

"The textbook and digital content marketplace is going through a transformation and the findings are consistent with our engagement with the leading e-content providers. Our collaborative efforts continue to shape the access to these tools to benefit students and faculty as we collectively move to new and innovative models in the production digital course material services,” said Shelton Waggener, Internet2 senior vice president. “The pilot shows that campuses and providers must work together to address the fundamental differences in use of these new models, and must cooperate to support greater adoption and utilization of digital technologies critical to advance teaching and learning, and make these important resources affordable to students and families.”

University, EDUCAUSE and Internet2 representatives will discuss the Fall 2012 pilot and key findings at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference on October 17. Internet2 staff also will discuss making e-textbooks and digital content available as a production digital course material service via Internet2’s NET+ E-Content program in 2014.

During the past two years, hundreds of faculty at more than 50 colleges and universities collaborated with Internet2, EDUCAUSE, publishers and e-textbook platform providers to deliver digital versions of textbooks to over 25,000 students in thousands of undergraduate and graduate courses.

There is broad agreement that higher education will move to digital just like music, video and recreational reading. With much input from students, faculty and administrators, industry and universities are working together to remove barriers for moving to digital, enabling institutions to more readily consider a solution that can work campus-wide.

About EDUCAUSE

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association and the foremost community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education. EDUCAUSE programs and services are focused on analysis, advocacy, community building, professional development, and knowledge creation because IT plays a transformative role in higher education. EDUCAUSE supports those who lead, manage, and use information technology through a comprehensive range of resources and activities. For more information, visit www.educause.edu.

About Internet2® • www.internet2.edu

Internet2® is a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation's leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 provides a collaborative environment for U.S. research and education organizations to solve common technology challenges, and to develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research, and community service missions.

Internet2 consists of more than 220 U.S. universities, 60 leading corporations, 70 government agencies, 38 regional and state education networks and more than 100 national research and education networking partners representing more than 50 countries. Internet2 offices are located in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Emeryville, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.internet2.edu or follow @Internet2 on Twitter.

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