Last week, as part of the Center for Teaching and Learning Assessment's annual "Teaching and Learning Conference," Academic Technology hosted an eContent Fair for faculty to meet with different publishers to discuss and discover what kinds of resources were available to them. Over the two days, we had four different publishers talking about what they have available for a wide range of disciplines. Cengage, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson had representatives to talk with faculty about what more these is to offer besides the traditional textbook.
of our reasoning in offering this to faculty and moving forward to do
this again in the future is the fact that publishers have come a long
way in what they have to offer faculty. Years ago, when faculty thought
of ebooks in lieu of textbooks, they mainly thought of a digital form
of the textbook either as a website or .PDF. But the fact is, the
resources that publishers provide for students and faculty are rather
substantial. As faculty, we struggle with assigning an expensive
textbook that will be financial hard to justify for many students,
especially after having paid for the class. But I think if you want to
get the most out of the price they have to pay for the textbook, it
would be beneficial to make use of the digital resources that many
publishers have to offer.
So what are some of these resources
available? What follows are some of the highlights. Not all publishers
have all the features mentioned, but many have a good range of them and
it’s worth contacting the publishers to find out what resources you
will be able to use.
many of the ebooks today, it’s not just the text in digital format, but
more content can be added or even customized for particular purposes.
Assigning specific chapters, supplemental links, primary sources,
additional videos and sound clips can take a few minutes and clicks to
establish the course materials in the order you want them
accomplished. Faculty can add their own customized content such as
instructor notes, added links, and files.
Not only can faculty annotate the text, but the tools are present for
students to annotate their readings with highlight and virtual sticky
notes. This encourages students to interact and engage their text in
ways that older ebooks certainly couldn’t. Beyond this, some ebooks
come with additional programs that might include games (crosswords
puzzles, virtual flash cards, trivia questions, etc) and some even have
simulations and video games that make students work through different
problems or projects (such as a virtual body to explore in an anatomy
class). Discussion forums can also be created (often with suggestions
for questions by the publisher or with the faculty’s own choice).
Many of the ebooks provide a pool of hundreds of questions per chapter
to create quizzes and tests. Some of the publishers have created
adaptive software and ranked the questions so that students will get
increasingly hard questions as they are more successful—increasing the
challenge or meeting the student at where he/she is at. When used as
formative evaluations to determine a student's understanding, quizzes
like these can be highly useful for learning. But beyond standard
quizzes, many ebooks offers other useful elements. Papers and major
assignments can be submitted and graded online by the faculty who can
draw upon a pool of comments generated by the instructor in present and
previous courses. With everything centered in the portal for the
course, students can chart their progress and learn about where their
performance is lacking or where they need more assistance.
large picture, the usefulness of eContent material is to get the most
out of a significant investment for both you and the students.
Additionally, the various materials (and means of tracking) allow for
the instructor to have a much clearer sense of what the students are
learning and where they are struggling. This can mean better results in
the class as you can better tailor your time with students in
accordance with where they need the most help. If you are further
interested in eContent for a book you are already using or in a text
you’re interested in using, click through to the publishers, see what
they have to offer, and contact a rep.
Do you use econtent? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages?