10 reasons to go digital with your course materials
When I was a college student, there were times when I skipped out on buying a required textbook for a course. Finances were always tight, so I tried to balance my checkbook with buying actual books. Even then, textbooks weren’t cheap. Today, students are paying more and more for their higher education experience. If a university can find ways to make attending college more affordable, accessible, and “high-tech/high-touch”, well, it’s not really an option, it’s a necessity.
Today’s technology makes it easy to distill course materials into digital formats and enhances them as a result. Colleges and universities are quickly shifting from books to bytes to improve the student experience and boost course outcomes.
Here are 10 reasons why your university should go digital with its course materials:
This may seem like an obvious reason to move to digital delivery of course materials. Students will end up paying less for digital course materials. From production to shipping, textbooks require a lot of costly infrastructure. Digital materials eliminate these costs and pass the savings on to students.
2. A better experience for students with disabilities
Unlike print books, modern eTextbooks can be accessible “out of the box.” When eTextbooks include features such alternative text descriptions of visuals and content that can be used with assistive technology, students can start reading right away, without waiting for a disability services department to create a file.
3. Learning Analytics and Digital Integration
Can you remember when a physical book connected to a digital learning system? It’s just not possible. However, with digital course materials, integration with the campus LMS/VLE is possible. Plus, with learning analytics built in, digital materials can help support at-risk learners who may need additional assistance.
Digital course materials might not seem like they give universities a recruitment edge, but in an increasingly competitive enrollment landscape, everything helps. Students seek modern solutions for their educational experience. For bring-your-own-device (BYOD) campuses and institutions that provide technology platforms for students, digital course materials hit the sweet spot. They create more affordances for student success and showcase a university experience that is effectively using the latest technologies.
5. Multi-Platform Capability
The ability to view course materials on a variety of devices represents a huge advantage for digital course materials. If a student needs to read a chapter while on the go, odds are, they will be able to access it on whichever device they have with them. Also, it’s a good bet that no one misses having a backpack filled with textbooks.
6. Seamless Group Work
University campuses are filled with versatile seating and project workspaces. You can’t project a textbook onto a large screen, but you can with digital course content. It’s simply a matter of either plugging in or wirelessly beaming content to a screen. It makes group work and collaboration a much easier task.
7. Always Current
Have you ever tried to update a textbook? Editions come and go, each one costing more than the last. With digital course materials, content is as up to date as possible and it doesn’t cost students more for this “always current” content. Who wants a used book when you can have a new digital version?
8. Instant Access
No longer do students have to search for the lowest price option or wait until after term starts. Instant access to digital materials, through programs such as Pearson Inclusive Access and others, ensures all students are ready to learn on the first day of class, not the third week. It’s as easy as logging into the university system, selecting the appropriate course, and downloading the material to a compatible device.
Textbooks have been surpassed in form, function, and capability. Digital course materials allow authors the opportunity to embed audio and video into their work. This makes for a much more interactive and “real” experience for students.
Anything that a college or university can do to assist students with their academic success is a good thing. Digital course materials aid and enhance an institution’s ability to improve their overall retention rates and bolster student success with all of the supportive elements in this list.
What would you add to the list?
Digital course materials are not the future for higher education; they’re the present. It’s only a matter of time before your institution goes digital for student success.
This post was sponsored by Pearson as part of a higher education influencers collaboration.
About the author
Eric Stoller is a higher education writer, consultant and speaker. He frequently gives keynotes and workshops on how digital channels can be used for strategic communications, learning, and engagement and uses his own social media presence to share resources and curate content.
He is a keen proponent for teaching students (and staff) about digital identity development and is especially interested in the interplay between organizational culture and the adoption of new technologies for teaching, learning, and enhancing the student experience.