There are a wide variety of reasons that e-reading has enjoyed its recent growth. Reading consumers have cited factors such as convenience of instant downloads, the portability of bringing hundreds of books along at all times, and even the accessibility issues like the ability to manipulate the font and size of text. But a new report from EDUCAUSE shows that the single biggest factor for academic institutions who make the switch to e-textbooks comes down to price.
The EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) released the findings of its recent pilot program, formed in partnership with Internet2, publisher McGraw-Hill Education, and digital textbook developer Courseload, in which more than twenty colleges and universities took part. As part of the pilot, more than 5,000 students and faculty incorporated the e-textbooks into their programs.
“This study demonstrates that institutions and the marketplace must first remove barriers that exist even in today’s paper textbook market, most notably cost,” said Susan Grajek, EDUCAUSE vice president for data, research, and analytics and report author, in a press release today. “Challenges innate to electronic content must also be addressed, including availability of materials where and when students need them, compatibility with the devices students own and prefer to use, and the kind of functionality that comes from good interface design. The solutions will come from many sources, but through this study students and faculty have clarified their needs.”
A variety of factors influenced the participants’ perceptions of the program, with the most important being the lower cost of course materials, which proved to be important to both the students and the faculty. Also, the variety of choices that digital offered, such as the ability to select print or digital and the option to take study materials virtually anywhere, were important to the participants.
Representatives from the universities, EDUCAUSE, and Internet2 will discuss the Fall 2012 pilot and key findings at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference on October 17.