When I was going to college not too long ago, I often looked for eBooks or international editions of textbooks to save money. I was never a big textbook learner, so for me, it didn’t make sense to spend hundreds of dollars for a book I might not even use. I was also lucky that most of my professors didn’t require specific versions of books or used them as supplements.
College textbooks are notoriously expensive. New versions that might need a single page or a chapter edited must be completely reprinted and published anew. But with the recent shifts to remote learning and the increasing use of technology to fuel education, there are bright spots of growth regarding access to online textbooks and additional resources for students. We also cannot forget that many school libraries have great resources that cannot be accessed at the moment, aside from some online programs from certain universities that allow remote access.
Even with the growth of E-Learning, I personally haven’t seen as much of a shift with textbooks and text-based resources. Recently however, I did find out that BibliU, a textbook platform, raised $10 million in series-A funding. BibliU is a solution for institutions to provide easy online access to textbooks and other digital content. Several publishers, such as McGraw-Hill, have already made efforts to digitize their content but still partner with BibliU for distribution.
Let’s discuss why digitizing content for learning would be so beneficial. With digital content, you reduce the need for expensive print versions of textbooks. Without expensive publishing deals, access would be cheaper and more readily available. Making edits to new versions wouldn’t even require reprinting, which would help our environment as well.
Universities can subsidize textbook access for students, and students would be able to access more than just the textbooks they own, but also textbooks on topics they might be interested in pursuing later on. Professors can also monitor engagement with these resources and see who is and isn’t reading the books, which would then shed light on the books’ impact on student performance. Taking notes and highlighting passages within the platform can allow for easier recall and better discussions, improving the learning experience even further. Online textbooks also make it possible to lead class discussions without the need for students to carry textbooks around all day.
However, I don’t think I’m the only one who has at least one major issue with online ebook content. I swear by my Kindle, but find reading textbooks on a computer to be tedious and tiring. This suggests we need better investment from platforms like BibliU, and better e-content from publishers to improve the learning process.
All in all, it is inevitable that as tech keeps improving, we will continue to see innovations throughout the E-Learning space. We’ve already had glimpses into AR and VR learning. It is our expectation that more platforms like BibliU will pop up, and improvements will continue to be made in regards to making resources more readily available and digestible for users, as well as more convenient and useful for institutions.