Nearly all college students, 92 percent to be exact, believe that digital textbooks have advantages over traditional textbooks, but studies find that faculty are more reluctant than their students to transition to digital. To meet these needs, faculty must learn to integrate digital into the classroom—but many don’t know where to start or how best to use the available tools.
In a recent webinar hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, our own Daniel Green, director or product analytics, along with leadership from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Missouri discussed their tips and experiences for integrating digital materials into courses. These two universities have become leaders in textbook affordability and access for their students.
Make digital materials central to the course.
Today’s students are digital natives and early adopters. “Mobile is more than a communication platform, it’s where (students) live,” said Green. He went on to say that students’ expectations for learning materials are evolving, including more than half (53 percent) preferring classes that offer digital tools.
Have a well-thought-out digital strategy with buy-in from key stakeholders.
“You have to have multiple stakeholders at the table in order to successfully introduce best practices across campus,” said Lauren Clark, director of the Learning Commons at the University of Cincinnati. The Learning Commons instituted a strategy that included teaching students transferable study skills, establishing peer-to-peer support programs, and engaging students starting at orientation.
Make the platform part of the learning environment from day one.
“We wanted to emphasize to students from the start, ‘many of your textbooks are going to be in a digital setting, get comfortable with that,’” said Clark. To do this, they created a common read for first-year students and introduced them to the literature during orientation.
Keep track of learner engagement with the content.
William Horner, professor and director of undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, has found that using an Inclusive Access program in his classes has made books affordable for students and improved grades. In addition, the auto-access program opened up opportunities to understand students’ learning and reading habits thanks to the tracking and analytics available through Bookshelf. “I find that really valuable,” said Horner, who is in his 20th year at Mizzou. “I try really hard to make sure the lecture and book are complementary, but not identical, so it’s important to me that they do the reading—and now I have to tool to make sure they are.”
The way education is delivered and measured is changing to keep pace with the next generation of digital native learners. Our hope at VitalSource is that we can work together to deliver a more affordable, effective education for the future.
If you missed this conversation and are interested in learning more, visit Best Practices for Integrating Digital Materials into Your Course. For more information on future webinars, visit our events page.