The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that this spring a pilot test group of five colleges, including the University of Virginia, set out to “evaluate the costs and benefits of providing electronic textbooks to students.”
During the pilot, the five colleges involved bought e-textbooks at a deeply discounted price from McGraw-Hill–partnering with Internet2, and Courseload, an e-book broker–and then charged students a materials fee.
The follow-up report found that most of the students elected to take part. Only 12% decided to purchase traditional print editions. Of the participants surveyed, the best features of the e-textbooks were that they were cheaper than traditional textbooks and more portable. However, people found the text difficult to read and lacking native functionality with some readers. Also, faculty reported that they needed more training in the collaborative features. As a result, they didn’t use the features providing little benefit to students.
One of the takeaways was that students requested books be available throughout their academic career and be accessible without Internet connection.
Personally, I like print textbook. Not only did I mark mine up with notes, but I kept several of them for later reference. However, I do see the advantage of the digital version. What about you? Do you think that once the users are more familiar and the kinks worked out that this will be the way with all schools lend books?