Digital-first. Open-source. Subscription. And the good old print textbook where ownership has given way to rentals, and analog to digital.
Chegg launched the first major online textbook rental service in 2007; Amazon followed suit in 2012. As students flock to more affordable options, textbook prices have skyrocketed to make up for the lost revenue. The price of textbooks has increased 183 percent over the last 20 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Whether textbooks are print or digital, owned or rented, they are still an aid, a resource. With a textbook alone (in any format) you face a steep hill of learning something. Synchronous teaching si where professors are the lead in instruction with the textbook supporting the lessons taught. Asynchronous learning models may not have live lectures but are supplied with pre-recorded classes and additional tools.
The history of textbooks dates back to ancient times. The modern textbook has its roots in the mass production made possible by the printing press. Textbooks have been the primary teaching instrument since the 19th century. Technological advances changed the way we interact with textbooks. Online and digital materials make it increasingly easy for students to access materials other than the traditional print textbook. Students now have access to ebooks, online tutoring, and video lectures. An increasing number of authors are avoiding commercial publishers and instead trying to self publish their course materials.
“We are finding that even though undergraduates prefer to read digitally, these preferences aren’t actually showing positive or even equalness in terms of comprehension,” says Lauren Singer Trakhman, who studies reading comprehension at the University of Maryland’s Disciplined and Learning Research Laboratory. “When it comes to things like pulling details, key facts, numbers, and figures, participants are doing a lot better after reading in print.”
Not only do students retain less when reading digitally, Trakhman says, they’re more likely to overestimate how well they comprehended the material. They reread sentences less. And even when an ebook layout mimics that of a physical textbook, they move around the page less, potentially missing important diagrams, sidebars, or other supporting materials. “I believe there’s a time and a place for digital, but educators need to be mindful of the time and place for using these resources. Rolling out these digital suites is not really the best for student learning.”
Traditional publishers are focusing on what is called “inclusive access” which essentially is a unified partnership between universities and publishers to sell access codes, whereby controlling the market further. Nine lawsuits were filed in March, April, and May against major textbook companies and retailers which take aim at their bulk deals with colleges to offer online course materials and digital textbooks.
Whether subscription models dubbed the “Netflix of textbooks” allowing an unlimited amount of access per semester of limited digital textbook libraries, ebooks, inclusive access models, or actual print textbooks, they are still offering the same informational text that has not changed for hundreds of years. The only way this will change, is to make course materials and textbooks interactive and immersive with both the student and professor.
That is where ElevateU comes in. We are working with professors and machine learning allowing engaged learning through an A.I. textbook which adapts as students progress through the semester with the guidance of the professor. Professors have the ability to make changes to the A.I. textbook throughout the course, nurturing the student’s engagement, gauging their comprehension, and customizing the A.I. textbook’s lesson depending on each student’s learning modality
Launching in the fall semester in professors in three universities, ElevateU is accepting applications from professors to collaborate for the beginning of 2021. professors can begin by signing up and filling out their information below: