Instructors are finding themselves in a quandary of how to best adapt to the increased use of mobile technology by their students, in their classes. For some faculty, the textbook seems to be the last bastion in the wake of change. In a study I recently completed with two colleagues, our data show that about half of the faculty participants had used an etextbook in a course:
45%, yes I have adopted an etextbook
55%, no I have not adopted an etextbook
Based on our data and my own anecdotal evidence, I would like to propose three generalized faculty scenarios for etextbook adoption. The roles I describe are of course oversimplified—the goal is to help each of us identify where we fall on the continuum and to assess whether and how we should move!
On the extreme end of the continuum, this “old-school” faculty member would feel most comfortable holding on to the traditional learning environment―paper textbook, pen and paper for notes, and the instructor taking a “sage on the stage” role for teaching. The traditionalist is likely to see etextbooks as unnecessary and unreliable for learning. Reading on an electronic device offers too many distractions to be trustworthy or to facilitate students’ comprehension. The traditionalist may truly believe paper is a better learning tool or may be hesitant to change because of his or her own feelings of intimidation concerning technology.
The Somewhat Eager Bandwagon Jumper
Although hesitant, this instructor will try technology devices and etools if an etextbook is adopted by a team of instructors teaching the same course. This instructor may need and will often seek support for integrating an etextbook or technology tools into teaching. If things go awry (e.g., poor wireless access in the classroom) this instructor may be wish to default to the bound book. Thus, he or she may be more likely to adopt an etextbook “bundle” offering the printed book and the ebook.
The Pedagogical-Aware Taste Tester
An instructor who falls into this category is eager to try new devices and frequently explores new apps and web tools, looking for resources applicable to course instruction. Selecting an etextbook is a natural extension of this technology curiosity. This instructor often selects class activities that get students interacting with technology and each other, while also inviting students to provide feedback about the effectiveness of technology tools. The belief that technology can and does facilitate learning guides this instructor, who sees an etextbook as a tool for enhancing learning through media and web links.
Where do you fit on this unscientific (and admittedly clunky) continuum?
Where would you like to be? Which scenario best fits the needs of your students?