Students still prefer print textbooks over digital

“The most popular reason students cited for purchasing print instead of digital-based course materials was a particular preference for print over electronic,” the researchers said.

Other reasons included digital materials being unavailable for the class, losing access to the materials at the end of the term, cost, and the inability to resell digital materials — a noteworthy explanation as digital textbooks are often marketed as cheaper alternatives.

Earlier studies have also suggested that students’ tendency toward print is not always just based on preference.

A study released by Educause found that faculty and students seem to agree that digital course materials will figure heavily in the future of higher education, but instructors are struggling to find the time and support to actually adopt eTextbooks in the classroom.

That report examined 23 colleges and universities that collaborated with Educause, Internet2, McGraw Hill, and the eTextbook provider Courseload in a pilot program that provided eTextbooks to more than 5,000 students and faculty in nearly 300 courses.

The study found that less than half of the faculty incorporated the digital texts into their courses, and just 40 percent of students said they received in-class orientation for the eTextbooks. The lack of attention from instructors can cause a malaise to form around adopting digital texts, the report said.

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