Tuesday, October 25, 2011

College e-text research group presents preliminary findings during symposium

Preliminary results of a two-year study show that, while use of e-texts may not yet be the first preference for all students, potential savings on the cost of traditional college textbooks would greatly influence their choices.

Dr. Michelle McCraney, at podium, introduces Daytona State's e-text
initiative panel of faculty and staff during this month's symposium.
A group of Daytona State College faculty, administrators, library personnel and instructional technology professionals shared these findings with more than 250 college and university officials from throughout Florida during an e-text symposium held this month in the Hosseini Center on the Daytona Beach Campus.
The study and the symposium are part of a research grant awarded to the college by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education. It is the first of its kind in the nation geared toward exploring student and faculty preferences for electronic textbooks, potential cost savings, and the most effective use of the technology with regard to teaching and learning.
Nine e-text publishers and device makers also attended the symposium to demonstrate the latest in e-text technology. Among them was keynote speaker Matt Drugan of CDW-G, a national provider of technology solutions for business and education, who stressed the importance of college administrators keeping up with the technology expectations of 21st century students.
“While 98 percent of administrators say that learning and mastering technology skills will improve students’ educational and career opportunities, just 22 percent say that improving the use of technology in the learning process is one of their top priorities,” he said. Drugan also pointed out that the percentage of high school students who use technology daily in class has increased from just 19 percent last year to 31 percent this year. Yet, no colleges and universities have adopted the e-text technology on an institution-wide basis.
Daytona State's study centers around a pilot program that was developed to compare four different textbook models in specific economics and English course sections - e-books, netbooks, traditional textbook rentals and a textbook rental program administered by students in the Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management degree program. It is a two-pronged study which focuses not only on technology, but also costs involved with college textbooks.
Each model was evaluated through surveys of participating students, focus groups, interviews with faculty and other key stakeholders, and through records of student outcomes.
While most Daytona State students favored the traditional textbook rental models, citing usability issues with some e-text devices, ease and efficiency of the traditional text rental process and confidence that books will be available, they also cited potential cost savings as being an influential factor across all models. Those students who favored the e-text models tended to be more technology savvy in the first place, according to the research, and Cheryl Kohen, emerging technologies librarian, said many issues students experienced with some of the e-text devices have been mitigated in new iterations.
The e-text study found that full-time two-year public college students pay on average $900 a year on textbooks and supplies. Moving toward e-texts can save students as much as 80 percent. The college’s BAS Club book rental program models a cooperative which can save students enrolled in the bachelor’s program as much as $2,200 over the course of their studies, according to Dr. Eileen Hamby, associate vice president of the College of Business Administration.
The e-text initiative will continue to move forward. Final results and evaluation of the research will be completed in May next year.  In the meantime, the e-text committee will continue to examine new devices and technologies, and train interested faculty on how to effectively use them.
“The game is always changing,” Kohen said, referring to the evolution of e-text technology. “We are keeping up with those changes and trying to bring that knowledge back to the students, as well as rethinking the pedagogy to determine the most effective ways to utilize this new way of teaching and learning.”
For more information on the e-text initiative, visit www.daytonastate.edu/etext/ or become a fan on Facebook.