“All the usual challenges of innovation and change apply,” the authors said. “The early adopters and evangelists lead the way, the recalcitrant resist at every step and the majority can be brought along with assistance, compelling use cases, incentives and time.”
A majority of students reported having little enthusiasm for the eTextbooks, with less than a third saying that the materials improved their reading or studying habits. At least 40 percent said eTextbooks had no effect on their learning.
This does not mean that students are opposed to the technology, however. In fact, an earlier Educause Center for Analysis and Research report found that 47 percent of undergraduates wish their teachers used more eTextbooks.
The primary motivation for students adopting digital course materials is cost, with convenience also being a factor. The report said that frustration resulting from lack of support and problems using their devices to access the materials outweighed the student’s appreciation.
Forty three percent of the students said they were unsure if they would enroll in a course with a mandatory eTextbook fee. Nearly a fourth of students said they definitely would not. Similarly, in the Center’s earlier report, students expressed a preference for open educational resources over eTextbooks.
“Without the cost savings, students would continue to incur high expenses for course materials or to forego them entirely (as many do currently with expensive paper textbooks in an effort to economize,” the authors said.