Even before the pandemic hit, schools were embracing digital materials at increasing rates, using digital resources to complement print textbooks and support curriculum. Fast forward to today where we are seeing students once again walking the halls of college campuses, and digital course materials remain a key part of the education experience, supporting in-person, remote and hybrid learning programs.
Despite the momentum, those schools that have dipped their toes in the digital waters are realizing it’s not quite as simple as getting content online. There are more digital options to choose from, more licensing models to decipher, and more systems to navigate. Plus there are numerous back-end processes and financial controls that must be in place to protect a school’s bottom line.
The biggest challenges when implementing digital course materials center around multi-platform usage, system integrations, and the lack of transparency. For starters, students and faculty are asked to juggle numerous platforms and systems, which can make the process of accessing and using digital course materials confusing. Additionally, for digital materials to work seamlessly, a school’s systems need to talk to each other. Implementing and maintaining all of the necessary integrations for this to happen often leaves the school’s IT team shouldering the burden. Finally, without the necessary controls and verification processes in place, schools and students often end up overpaying for digital materials, especially when using the same content across different courses and terms.
There are a variety of fulfillment models that are designed to get digital course materials into students’ hands easily, immediately, and effectively. In some instances, students purchase materials from the school’s online bookstore, and in other cases, students automatically receive their materials if they are enrolled in a course. However, providing access to digital materials is only one piece of the puzzle. Schools must be mindful of all of the back-end operations that keep course materials programs running. Here is what you need to know.
1. Make Sure Faculty Know How to Effectively Choose and Use Digital Materials
Just like print textbooks, the number of digital add-ons available from publishers and third-party content creators can be overwhelming. From eBooks and Publisher Direct Content, to Access Codes, Codeless Access and Courseware, faculty need to be able to easily find and evaluate materials. Adoption tools, technologies and peers can provide recommendations so faculty can easily analyze, compare and rank alternative options and costs.