Thursday, March 24, 2011

E-Text Rules Matter in Cal State Study

Preliminary findings from a California State University study on e-textbooks has shown that students’ acceptance of the electronic material often depended on the rules publishers set on its usage. The rules, according to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, include the number of pages a student can print from the e-textbook, whether it can be downloaded to a desktop, or used online.

The pilot program last fall involved more than 3,800 students in 30 course sections where e-textbooks were assigned with thousands more in a control group using traditional course materials. The results have been mixed. A third of the 662 students who responded expressed satisfaction with the e-textbook experience, one third said they were neutral, and the final third were dissatisfied, according to the study, which was reported on by Converge Magazine.

The study also showed 73% of students assigned e-textbooks bought the course material, compared to 46% of students in traditional courses who bought the book. Officials from the study believe the lower cost of the e-text led to the increase in digital book purchases.

Project leaders plan to share the findings with publishers in hopes those publishers will change policies to respond to the student concerns. The companies participating in the study during the fall semester were Cengage Learning, Pearson, Macmillian, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley and Sons, and CourseSmart.

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