College Resources in the Digital Age

Posted July 21, 2014 by
Woman using e-reader while friends carry books in the background

Woman using e-reader while friends carry books in the background. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The face of education is undergoing rapid redevelopment as the digital age and academia are beginning to come to terms with the realities of the modern “connected” world. The two forces now rely on one another to offer students a more comprehensive learning system bringing measurable improvement in retention and student grades.

Where teaching faculty once relied primarily on traditional methods that used large lecture halls, students nowadays are directed to the Internet as a primary source of their information. The trend will continue and will in no doubt impact not only the future design of facilities, but also how knowledge is disseminated.

Today, it is quite possible to gather course material over well-coordinated programs that combine in-class learning with the proper textbooks. In fact over 90 percent of course material is now available on the Internet and easily accessible to everyone.

In the era of smartphones, iPads and tablets, textbooks can be taken virtually anywhere and can be accessed anytime the opportunity for studying presents itself. Gone are the days when heavy backpacks ruled. Once downloaded, an Internet connection is not required to access materials.

The basis of this new wave of learning is also available on a rental basis. Students can sign up to rent textbooks required for their courses. The term of the rental program correlates with the length of the course. Students are guaranteed up-to-date material; which get that way because it’s easy to add new pages and information electronically – no printing schedule required. Instead of bound textbooks, students download courses into their notebooks, Kindles and most other mobile devices, then put them to uses in an intuitive easy to use manner.

The e-programs enable students to easily search relative topics and make notes within the book layout, then copy and paste important passages for organizing and printing. The use of social networks is another layer of study and a definite positive as students can converse about course topics and collaborate on projects across the globe.

E-Books Save

A good e-book company is diverse, offering as much as they can in as many college courses as possible. Often that can include 90% of what’s out there. Besides the broad approach “internet book providers” can save students significant dollars over print. That’s always important.

According to The National Association of College Stores (NACS) college students will spend well over $600 on textbooks annually. But, in the case of some of the more specialized texts, the cost can easily reach $300 or so for a single textbook, which can raise the average cost even more.  As an example, the College Board puts the annual cost of books and other essentials at $1,168. Students at for-profit colleges are usually required to spend more.

Book rental programs are readily available in most app stores. Generally, they can also be purchased at college book stores. Once purchased, students need only to sign in with the code they are assigned to gain entry to the material. At some colleges and universities, students are offered free access to the course books. In most cases these schools purchase bulk subscriptions for a class from an Internet book provider then provide the books to students at little or no cost.

Teachers also love the flexibility of the program. They are able to easily review potential course material before determining what is best suited for their class. Like students, they too appreciate the portability factor.

Benefits fall on administrators and faculty, as well. Some online book providers offer textbooks to teachers at no cost. Some providers also offer analytics that measure the effectiveness of their programs as far as student retention and grades along with background information that can help determine the future materials to be considered for a particular course. Perhaps even more importantly, many of the analytics can actually predict student outcomes and allow changes to be made to help students improve those outcomes.

By Zack Jones

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