Note: The Fall 2013 pilot was sponsored by EDUCAUSE and Internet2. Learn more about this and other Internet2 sponsored e-textbook pilots here.
The University of Oregon Libraries, Information Services and Academic Affairs joined forces to launch a pilot program fall term to evaluate the use of electronic textbooks, or e-texts, instead of traditional printed texts in university courses.
The first phase of the pilot program got underway at the UO in September 2013, when faculty and students in two courses – one in business and another in history – began using Blackboard and a content aggregator called Courseload to access e-textbooks for the courses. E-textbook access was completely subsidized for students in pilot program courses.
Ron Bramhall, senior instructor of business, is one of two instructors using Courseload as part of the fall term pilot project.
“I like the ability to just write what I am thinking as I read the text and know that my students could have instant access to that,” Bramhall said. “It was fairly easy to use, though some of the highlighting features didn’t work the way I wanted.
“I also like that I can link out from the text to additional material,” he said. “Having gone through this one pilot has given me some ideas about how to better engage students in my notes and perhaps give them some tips about how to use the text more productively.”
So far, Bramhall’s response remains measured.
Alex Dracobly, a senior instructor in history, reported that based on his brief experience with the e-text platform, e-texts and textbooks suffer from the same problem: lack of use.
“I know perfectly well that students often ignore the reading assignments or ignore them until they are forced to crack the book open,” Dracobly said. “This is certainly the case with e-texts, too: I currently have two students out of 216 that have read through the assigned material. A large majority haven’t used it at all, and of those who have used it, most have read fewer than 30 pages.”
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