The benefits of eBooks and their potential in higher education
It is a simple fact that technology is entangled in all aspects of our lives, and none more so than for students in higher education.
From projectors used to support lectures to laptops or dictation devices used to record notes, students encounter technology daily.
Even in the university library, there are screens to help students locate, borrow, and return the books needed for their studies.
However, academic textbooks and reference material can be difficult to find in universities with thousands of students, and limited copies of each book.
This is just one of the reasons why more and more students are turning to eBooks instead of physical books.
Noticing this trend, many education publishers have begun to incorporate eBooks into the course curriculum, making them more accessible to all students.
Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of eBooks and their potential in higher education:
eBooks are generally more affordable, both to buy and create, as there are no printing costs involved with eBooks. This is a huge benefit for cash-strapped students.
Immediate availability – there is no waiting time for eBooks. They can be download to multiple devices instantly or added to a library lending service which allows multiple students to loan copies simultaneously.
eBooks are portable which means that students no longer need to carry multiple, heavy textbooks to and from lectures.
Engaging and interactive - images, audio, video, and external links can all be incorporated into eBooks, making learning a more engaging and interactive experience while presenting opportunities for further learning.
Accessibility is a big factor with eBooks. Students can customise their reading experience by adjusting things like text size and style, screen brightness and background lighting, to make textbooks easier to digest for students with learning difficulties. The text-to-speech function on many eBooks also makes them invaluable for the visually impaired, while also being a fantastic tool for multi-tasking students who can listen as they carry out other tasks, furthering their productivity.
Note-taking is made easier with eBooks as students can highlight sections of text and add their thoughts. This also makes study groups more productive as students can share notes and annotations for further discussion.
Instant updates – students and lecturers will benefit from having access to the most updated version of textbooks as eBooks can be updated instantly instead of reprinting entire editions.
Dictionary and referencing are two features of many eBook readers that are particularly useful for study, especially to students where English is not their native language. eBooks enable students to further understand a concept without turning to a dictionary or the internet, where they might become distracted.
Environmentally sustainable – an issue that is gaining more and more support from students and is a big factor when choosing whether to buy a print or digital book.
Flexible – with eBooks, students can enjoy offline reading wherever they are, allowing them to continue studying even when away from the university library. Additional features, such as anti-glare and backlighting, also allow students to study outside or at night.
So, is the future of textbooks in higher education digital? What are your thoughts?
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