Dean: Training should precede eBook use

More than 500 Trine University students will use eTextbooks this spring.

Trine University students can highlight text, take digital notes, or chat about their latest readings from their eTextbooks starting this spring semester. But first, one school official said, they need a lesson or two.

David Wood, dean of Trine’s School of Professional Studies, has helped oversee the college’s transition to eTextbooks when the spring semester starts Jan. 10.

All 530 Professional Studies students and 75 faculty members will use CafeScribe electronic textbooks, a part of Follet Higher Education Group, which first introduced its digital textbook format in 2007.

And while Trine students and educators have clamored for an all-eTextbook intiative, Wood said the university has taken a series of steps to prepare the campus community for nontraditional texts, and to allay worries of the few students and faculty that have expressed skepticism about the move away from hardcover books.

The school’s proactive approach in the months before eTextbooks were phased in included live webinars in which student and educator questions were answered and production of pamphlets that offer an overview of how to use the CafeScribe books.

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Those eTextbook lessons include teaching students how to use the devices’ “read aloud” feature that speaks the book’s words and could be most valuable for students with low vision.

“Change is difficult, and we understand that,” said Wood, who was director of academic technology and online learning at Trine before becoming dean last year. “Students have a very particular way of doing things.”