What benefits students the most? Well, if you ask the students themselves – and at Student Monitor we do ask them, surveying 1,412 undergrads for our Spring 2022 edition — the answer is personalization. In fact, our most recent conversations with students underscored the central role that personalization played in driving the 156% jump in sales of unlimited digital course materials, like eTextbooks, over the last ten years.
How do students personalize their digital course materials?
Well, in an update to the analogue experience of using a yellow highlighter to mark relevant passages, they can use an array of colors to mark the text, and they can also make comments, and bookmark pages. And with eTextbooks students can also change or remove these highlights and notes as necessary.
With eTextbooks students can also find the definition of a word with the click of a button – no need to keep a clunky dictionary by their side. New digital materials also give students the option going beyond what is written in the text to explore topics in greater depth. And students say they like the flexibility of being able to access their textbooks and accompanying notes whenever they need to, and wherever they happen to be, through their electronic devices.
While eTextbooks give students a plethora of new and updated options, they also aid instructors in improving the learning experience, with tools that help students retain information, such as worksheets, videos, and short quizzes at the end of each section to check what students remembered and what they didn’t. Instructors can even receive reports on student comprehension, allowing them to tailor their teaching to what students are missing. Students love these features – 40% who used eTextbooks with these options reported using the assignments and self-assessment tools. And get this: if a student struggles on a specific topic, the quizzes and course materials in new eTextbooks will continue to present the concept in different ways until the student shows they have a solid grasp.
There is no question that the meteoric rise of digital materials is a game changer, and 49% of students we talked to think they will purchase or rent eTextbooks more frequently when they return to class in person next year. eTextbooks and the innovative platforms that house them are changing in response to student feedback every day, and in our upcoming interviews the Student Monitor team will continue to track new features as they become available, as well as how students respond.
Eric Weil is the Managing Partner of STUDENT MONITOR LLC, the syndicated market research study of the U.S. and international college student market. Eric has been active in the college market for over thirty years as the publisher of the College Marketing Annual and Collegiate Trends.