• eTextbook Exploration: Are Students Ready to Declare Their Independence From the Printed Text?

      Maxwell, Patricia E.; Little, Jennifer J.; Stites-Doe, Susan; The College at Brockport (2011-03-01)
      A team of faculty, library, IT, and bookstore staff collaborated on a longitudinal study to track how 50 students use e-textbooks and whether using them improves learning outcomes. The Fall 2010 pilot study, “Tracking Student Interest in e-Textbooks”, gathered both quantitative and qualitative data from students registered in online and physical sections of an upper level business course. Student participants accessed the e-textbook with their personal laptops, but several reported using a Kindle, iPad, and even an iPhone. Of particular interest to the researchers were the possible correlates of students’ successful use of the e-textbooks, e.g., their habits regarding the use of social network sites, electronic commerce, blogs, etc. Another purpose of the study was to discover the impact of assistive interventions offered students throughout the length of the study. These included: (1) e-textbook help sessions from both bookstore and IT staff; (2) e-textbook current event emails from a librarian with a reminder of help contacts, and (3) help consultations by phone, email, or in the Library. At the beginning and end of the study, participants completed pre- and post-surveys measuring their experience with and attitudes toward computers, the Internet, e-textbooks and print textbooks. Research findings indicate: (1) 65% of the students are willing to read another e-textbook and (2) cost savings is the most compelling reason to read the e-textbook. Students encountered technical difficulties (page/highlighting freezes, printing problems, and slow network) that were frustrating enough that 10% of the participants switched to print textbooks. Students acknowledge the need to focus when reading their e-textbook. Many students voiced a preference to read their next e-textbook on an e-reader because first, the reader was a physical object reminding the student to read and second, offered no distractions such as the ability to simultaneously access social networking sites. 10% of the students actively sought assistance and/or responded to email messages from the librarians. A review of recent literature indicates more needs to be learned about student digital reading comprehension, barriers to accepting e-textbooks, and the pedagogical implications for e-textbook use (as well as for online study). Bibliography available on request.