In the United States, college costs a lot of money. In addition to tuition, room and board, the average student spends anywhere from $500 to $1500 annually on textbooks. Used bookstores and online retailers can soften the blow a bit, but publishers need to find ways around the growing used and rental market. Digital textbooks are one way to ensure course material quality and integrity.
While many current faculty and students may prefer print books to digital, the costs of printing and demand for personalization is creating a demand for digital versions. Some courses have moved to an open educational resource model (OER), which passes on little-to-no-costs to students. However, sourcing these materials takes time and energy, not to mention revamping of syllabuses and double checking course outcomes.
Additionally, as more and more classes are offered online, students increasingly expect to access all their course materials online or in a digital format. There are more opportunities for added content value as well, meeting the desire for personalization. However, creating exclusive access may still be an issue. Using USB drives or flash drives alleviates that problem.
Digital Textbooks are the Future. And Present.
(and past, if we're being honest). They aren't a new idea by any means. However, one issue with their adoption is accessibility. Downloading from the internet can take time as well as a lot of storage. Accessing it through a site means slow load times and decreased personalization, as students are usually just accessing it from a common repository. Meaning no ability to take notes or highlight what they want.
Using a USB drive or flashdrive for digital textbooks gives them the best of all options. They can access the text quickly from the drive, and choose to save it to their own device. They can still carry it with them... But it's much lighter than a textbook.
Best of all, students can mark up the copy however they want (with proper permission from the publisher). They can search content, add notes, and bookmark as well. They have all of the convenience of a digital download, best features of printed text, but at a lower cost and increased aptitude for interaction.
Are You Ahead of the Curve?
The image above, while not a digital textbook, is a great example of how the custom flashdrive could look for students. The packaging gives plenty of opportunities for highlighting other links, while the USB drive itself with access code ensures proper usage.
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