A recent survey conducted by Abilene Christian University revealed that 75% of the college freshmen they surveyed would be willing to buy an iPad if at least half of their textbooks were digitally available.
During the past year, researchers at ACU investigated student ideas about the iPad and the digital content available on it. ACU students have had the opportunity to evaluate potential iPad uses in several different courses and research settings, using digital texts provided by Inkling, McGraw Hill, and ACU. The majority of the students found reading on the iPad to be more convenient than reading from paper textbooks.
Microeconomics students had problems with losing personal annotations and highlighting when updating their reading applications, but students and faculty both reported an increase in participation and interest in the course. An ability to collaborate on projects at any time from any location was a highly favorable benefit, increasing interaction between students and between students and professors.
A class of senior-level marketing students rated their experience with iPad textbooks positively, with most of them noting that they were able to read and study as well or better on an iPad compared to a traditional textbook.
Overall, after three years of research, ACU has found that each year, increasing numbers of faculty members have begun implementing mobile learning and have rated their students as being more engaged when using mobile devices as part of their learning experience. According to faculty members, the mobile learning program is successful, and students understand the benefits of using mobile learning devices.
These results are hardly surprising, when you take a look at the cost of books and the strain of carrying several books around a large campus. My college campus was huge, and at times, it was a 10 minute walk between classes – not meandering either, that’s walking at a fairly brisk pace. Lugging a bunch of text books around over those distances is always tiring. Plus, a lot of text books, even used, are expensive. It’s not unusual to spend well over the cost of an iPad on one semester of books alone, making the iPad a very logical academic choice on college campuses.
Hopefully this trend towards digital textbooks continues, as this research from ACU reveals that students and faculty are eager and willing to use mobile technologies in the classroom when the right infrastructure exists. As George Saltsman, executive director of ACU’s Adams Center for Teaching and Learning says, “We are witnessing the first efforts at creating a sustainable infrastructure for digital learning content. Our faculty and students are exploring these new options and the outlook is highly positive.”