As digital education continues to grow and change the higher education landscape, the ever-growing debates surrounding various electronic improvements do as well. So how do modern, sleek, and interactive digital textbooks compare to the standard paper versions? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this traditional vs. digital debate.
- Digital textbooks allow for interactive learning: Aside from the ability to link directly to streaming videos or unique source material, certain companies offer interactive diagrams, quizzes, educational movies, and more
- While flipping through pages and pages of material to look up questions takes a lot of time, digital textbooks make it easy by allowing readers to search with the simple click of a button
- Have updated material? New sources? Current studies to describe? Digital textbooks allow for instantaneous updating—not more money and paper spent on buying an entirely new print edition
- Technology now exists for tracking students’ progress via analytics: Faculty can identify where students are struggling or failing to be engaged. By adjusting what’s taught in class based on these findings, professors can help improve class participation, interactions, and overall student success
- Students have yet to fully take to digital textbooks, citing email distractions, temptations to surf the web, and a lack of ability to concentrate as reasons for preferring paper textbooks
- While digital textbooks offer ways to e-highlight choice sections, students still prefer their colored pens and the ability to write directly on paper since technology still lacks seamless control
- Paper textbooks are hard to steal, whereas digital textbook piracy is a growing concern. While 10% of college students admit to acquiring their course materials without paying, 30%-40% of those students also say they know someone who has pirated materials. The conclusion? Digital textbook piracy is an ever-growing threat
- Electronic reading platforms interfere with intuitive navigation of text, making it difficult to know what’s important or to really map any one passage in the context of the entire text
We all know that paper textbooks are bulky and often more expensive than digital textbooks. But surprisingly, in this digital age we have yet to see a universal acceptance of electronic learning. Though the numbers of digital textbooks users grow steadily each year, an affordable textbook delivery system that satisfies everyone has yet to be created.
Times are changing on the education front, and digital education is set to challenge everything we thought we knew about traditional teaching and learning. Knewton, a tech-based personalized education company, recently created an infographic illustrating the turn education is poised to make. You can view the infographic below.
Here are some of the most interesting facts that Knewton points out in this informative graph:
- Education in the U.S. is a massive, 7-trillion-dollar industry. That’s more than the GDP of Italy, France, and the UK—combined
- The internet has changed how we do just about everything, from purchasing electronics to meeting people. Education is about to be added to that list
- One way the digital landscape is about to change? By transitioning from the one-size-fits-all model of teaching and learning to customized, technology- driven solutions for each student.
- In 2010, digital textbooks comprised just 1.5% of U.S. textbook sales. In 2013 that number has grown to 11%, and by 2015 it’s expected to hover around 35%
- The online learning enrollment growth rate is a whopping 14 times higher than traditional higher education enrollment
- Teachers believe that online educational tools really work: 93% believe online tools improve performance, and 95% believe these tools engage
- 96% of universities offer at least one online class, and by next year, approximately 81% of post-secondary students will take some or all of their classes online
- In 2010, over 6 million students took one or more online courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions
With 30% of U.S. students failing out of high school and a whopping 46% of U.S. college students failing to graduate (even within 6 years), the opportunities for online education to break down barriers is ever present. Whether a company looking to capitalize on the online education market or a student is looking for an unconventional learning environment, online education is poised to burst onto the higher education scene—and makes great strides each and every month. What will the digital education landscape look like in 2014? It’s hard to say, but it will be anything but traditional.
One of the most popular teaching techniques of the 2012-2013 academic school year is to “flip the classroom.” This idea of taking a standard class lecture and subsequently making it available online for students to review at his or her own pace is putting the student in control—thereby “flipping” the standard teaching process.
The immediate benefits of this practice include allowing students to watch, press pause, review, and re-play an idea until it makes sense; going at a slower or faster pace; having the option to learn in the standard classroom or self-teach at home; and more. There are many more reasons why flipping the classroom is actually helping students and professors alike get more out of learning and lecturing.
Teachers and professors alike warn that flipping the classroom isn’t simply recording a lecture and putting it online; rather, it’s an interactive approach that requires students to gather information outside of class, be prepared to engage with the material in class, and actively participate during class lectures. Teacher Scot Rainear reverses the standard process, recording traditional lessons for students to view at home, and then opening classroom time for students to solve homework problems in class, where he and peers can actually help students stuck on any aspect of a problem. Certain higher education professionals believe that new professor-student shifts are on the horizon, but this doesn’t mean that professors are useless in the classroom; instead, it’s all about communication. This new information age is making it clear to students that the central pillar of their college education is what professionals have always believed it to be: their responsibility.
Salman Khan, founder of the free, 4,000-video-plus video library the Khan Academy, likes to say that in traditional classes, “A teacher has to give a one-size-fits-all lecture.” But when the classroom is flipped, teachers and students alike can learn at their own pace in a more tailored environment. In fact, this is proving true in high school classes as well. By introducing students to new topics via online video lessons created by their teacher, kids can choose to be well-prepared for class through simple, 5-minute videos. This setup blends online instruction, teamwork, peer support, and teacher-guided work sessions, allowing students to more actively participate in the learning process.
Though we have yet to gather hard statistics on the efficacy of flipping the classroom, it appears that students appreciate both the responsibility and the challenge of active participation. Intellectual involvement instead of passive listening? Now that’s something everyone can agree on.
With so much in the higher education media about what MOOCs can do for us, we wondered: What do professors who have taught these courses think? We looked behind the scenes for a new perspective.
The Chronicle ran a survey of 184 professors who have taught, or are currently teaching, a Massive Open Online Course. 103 of those professors responded, and though the survey size and methodology isn’t statistically significant, it’s important to remember that this is the first study of its kind, and that the idea of MOOCs itself is still a relatively new one.
Results were mixed, but usually overall positive. When asked if students who successfully completed a MOOC deserved formal credit from their own institution, a staggering 72% said no. But asked if they believed MOOCs were worth all the hype, a whopping 79% said yes. Interestingly enough, most professors surveyed felt that free online courses should be integrated into the traditional credit-degree system, and the majority believed that MOOCs would, in the end, make college less expensive.
But while those taking the courses may feel a benefit in terms of knowledge, it’s not clear who is winning and who is losing in the overall picture. As The Cite noted, 97% of instructors used original videos in their courses and reported spending more than 100 hours on MOOCs before the first class started—and that’s not even counting class work each week to answer questions and keep materials up to date. “I had no time for anything else. My graduate students suffered as a consequence,” said Professor Geoffrey Hinton from the University of Toronto.
Still, the professors surveyed felt that such a huge undertaking was a good experience. Before teaching a MOOC, just under 30% of the polled professors reported being ‘very enthusiastic’ about fully online courses, yet after the teaching experience, over 55% of them reported being ‘very enthusiastic.’ On the other end of the spectrum come the voices of professionals who say that MOOCs will hurt education in other ways: Officials in California worry that those who agree to teach online could undermine faculty intellectual property rights and collective bargaining agreements.
All in all, it seems that although the professors surveyed have positive thoughts overall towards teachings MOOCs, the true payoff and integration into higher education settings has yet to be determined.