E-textbooks and LMS/Device Integration

Missed this statement from ECAR 2013 last pass through it:

What Is the Current Context for E-Text/E-Textbook Use in Higher Education?

According to a recent ECAR/Intemet2 e-text evaluation project, the cost of textbooks was the most important value driver for e-textbooks, but cost-savings potential did not trump functionality when it came to student use of e-text for coursework.‘ “Students appreciated the greater portability of e-textbooks and the fact that their textbooks were more conveniently available. However, students’ frustrations using their devices to access e-textbooks outweighed their appreciation.The segregation of content in a textbook platform system from the learning management system as well as from students‘ primary devices was inconvenient and frustrating to many students.

Two points here. First, what Lumen Learning has been finding — that e-texts have to be integrated with the LMS — is not just a faculty concern, but a student one. Students, I imagine, want everything to be in one place, and don’t want to log into a seperate publisher site for “textbook homework” and an LMS for other homework.

This is more interesting than it may seem at first. Consider this — the physical textbook is not integrated with the LMS at all. Yet when the textbook goes online, the expectations change. It becomes, in a word, courseware. Integration becomes key.

Second, free as in freedom is also a very real concern for students, even if they don’t express it that way. Students who buy a book want to see it on any device they own without a whole bunch of DRM hassle. [So you can stop telling me students don’t care about openness now.]

Student perspective and preference shouldn’t trump impact here, and very often student navigation of multiple tools is an outcome of the course. You don’t go into ds106 and complain there’s too many tools, or into a wiki-based PBL experience and complain the wiki wasn’t in Blackboard (or if you do, I have very little sympathy). In these cases, learning the tools and techniques is half the point.

But most times things are split it’s not about that. It’s just that one company’s economic interest is aligned against another, and the students are forced to deal with it. Or, in the case of open textbooks, there’s just been no money put into better integration. Both situations force students to spend effort managing coursework that would be better spent learning.

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22 thoughts on “E-textbooks and LMS/Device Integration

  1. We did an ebook project – gave student’s ereaders, Many complained they couldn’t read more than one book at once. Which is a little insurmountable as a problem.

    No LMS does ebooks well – and why would it? The big publishers want to keep the copy themselves so mostly LTI access into books on their system. If you’ve seen a library system recently, that is all that will happen with ebooks. Awkward pop up / new window / login screen hell.

    Makes me think we don’t get how people don’t want ebooks – but then don’t care for the implementation. No money put into tools is pretty much the OER story. Always goes into content, content is risk free compared to tools.

  2. Yeah, the lack of money into OER tools is getting old. Very old.

    What did the student think they meant about reading two books at once? Was it the abillty to have multiple books open while searching for an answer?

    • It was to be able to see two books at once, so almost two ereaders. Imagine the desktop – say comparing two legal cases, one statute book open, one case open – reading the both at once. Hard to do on an ereader

  3. I don’t know if integration is key for students. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good goal. But I think simplicity is more important than integration, at least from a student perspective (integration can bring other benefits outside of a smoother student user experience). Your second point is probably a bigger irritant to students than integration with the LMS. If you have ever tried to access a publishers etextbook it is a bloody nightmare. You are often redirected thru proxy servers, have to download special software, create special accounts, use unfamiliar software to navigate – THAT is the stuff that I think drives most students bonkers.

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