But more technology doesn’t always mean better results. Within K-12 learning environments, the digital divide means that students in low-income and rural households have less access to reliable internet and fewer connected deviceson which to complete the online portions of their homework. And while Pearson’s initiative applies only to textbooks in higher ed, the shift to digital has implications at the collegiate level as well.
Just as traditional software has a thriving open source community, textbooks have Open Educational Resources, complete textbooks that typically come free of charge digitally, or for a small fee—enough to cover the printing—in hard copy. And while it’s not an entirely new concept, OER has gained momentum in recent years, particularly as support has picked up at an institutional level, rather than on a course by course basis. According to a 2018 Babson College survey, faculty awareness of OER jumped from 34 percent to 46 percent since 2015.
One of OER’s leading proponents is OpenStax, a nonprofit based out of Rice University that offers a few dozen free textbooks, covering everything from AP Biology to Principles of Accounting. In the 2019–2020 academic year, 2.7 million students across 6,600 institutions used an OpenStax product instead of a for-profit equivalent.
The knock against OER is that, well, you get what you pay for. “One faculty member told me only half-jokingly, that OER is like a puppy that’s free. You get the free puppy, but then you have to do all the work,” says Cengage’s Hansen, who argues that traditional publishers provide critical supporting materials, like assessment questions, that OER often lacks, and can push more regular updates.
By virtue of being free, OER materials also heavily skew toward digital, with hardcover as a secondary option. (Or you can download the PDF and print it out yourself.) The same caveats about efficacy apply. But at least OER doesn’t lock you into one digital platform, the way the major publishers do. OpenStax alone counts around 50 ecosystem partners to provide homework and testing support.
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Or you could always split the difference.
That’s the territory Cengage wants to stake out. Late last summer, the educational publishing behemoth—it announced a planned merger with McGraw Hill in May; the combined company would surpass all but Pearson in market capitalization—rolled out Cengage Unlimited, a “Netflix for Textbooks” model that rolls all textbook rentals and digital platform access into a single rate: $120 for a semester, $180 for a full year, or $240 for two years. Almost a year in, the US-only program has a million subscribers.
OneNote OneNote is the obvious choice for anyone who is using a Microsoft Surface or other Windows-based tablet. It is also available to use on iPads and on Android tablets. The option to have handwriting converted to text is an outstanding feature.
If you’re a G Suite for Education user, Google Keep. It doesn’t have the handwriting-to-text function that OneNote offers.
Zoho Notebook Zoho Notebook doesn’t have the name recognition of OneNote or Keep. Zoho Notebook has the most intuitive design or organization options of the three digital notebooks featured here.
The downside to Zoho Notebook is that the handwriting option only appears on the Android and iOS platforms. If the handwriting option worked in the Chrome or Edge web browsers,
Figure 29: Are your research publications and/or products freely available online through your institution’s repository, a disciplinary repository (such as arXiv, SSRN, etc.), or available elsewhere online (such as your personal webpage)? For each type(s) of scholarly work(s) listed below, please select all hosting sources that apply. Of the respondents that make each of the following types of publications and/or products freely available online, the percent who indicated their research is hosted in each of the following.
Which of the following statements best describes your role in deciding what textbooks and other course materials will be used in the courses you teach? Percent of respondents who selected each item.
Book Creator LucidPress and Book Creator supports uploading many kinds of media and then adding that media to the pages of an ebook. This can be a great way to have students build digital portfolios of their best work.
Penn State, through a partnership between Penn State World Campus and the University Libraries, has made available more than 330 e-books for almost 300 courses offered through World Campus starting in the 2017-2018 academic year. The e-books are available to students through Canvas, the University’s learning management system, and are also searchable online in the University Libraries’ catalog.
The e-book licensing partnership between the Libraries and Penn State World Campus
Inclusion of 3D Artifacts into a Digital Library: Exploring Technologies and Best Practice Techniques
The IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Scholarship has been digitizing and providing access to community and cultural heritage collections since 2006. Varying formats include: audio, video, photographs, slides, negatives, and text (bound, loose). The library provides access to these collections using CONTENTdm. As 3D technologies become increasingly popular in libraries and museums, IUPUI University Library is exploring the workflows and processes as they relate to 3D artifacts. This presentation will focus on incorporating 3D technologies into an already established digital library of community and cultural heritage collections.