The Current State and Potential Future of E-Textbooks


Digital textbooks (or e-textbooks) are hot commodities in higher education, with numerous colleges, universities, and educational coalitions adopting various platforms, piloting options, or cautiously monitoring developments. This swelling tide of interest in e-textbooks arises from a number of motivators, principally to save students money, explore pedagogical potential, and keep pace with K–12 markets. Instructors are looking for ways to keep materials current while responding to the price pressures their students face. The University of Washington conducted a pilot to investigate two leading e-textbook platforms to determine which platform participants preferred. Participating instructors taught with their choice of e-textbook and selected the platform they preferred; they were not required to use the e-textbook in a predetermined manner. During the pilot students received their e-textbooks free of charge; UW-IT covered the cost of e-textbooks. This brief discusses the pilot and its findings.

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