In our last post, we outlined the different types of eBooks that schools might be interested in, and how their variable access and compatibility standards need to be accounted for in order to ensure a successful implementation.
Now we are going to look at another aspect of planning a product adoption: prioritizing your objectives.
Since different products offer different strengths, this method will help you see where a product aligns with your expectations. Consider which of the following advantages is most important to your school:
Do you want to take advantage of weightless digital texts to allow your students to carry less mass? The freedom from physical limits is a popular reason for adopting eBooks. Especially for schools that have many students traveling with sports teams or commuting a long distance from home each day, mobile access to class materials is a convenient asset. Keep in mind, though, that in such cases the texts should be downloadable and not browser-based, since students will need to have access to them away from WiFi. Also consider whether students are likely to actually work in transit.
And even if your students are not traveling a lot, the portability question applies to their internet access at home, especially for browser-based products. Can they go from school to home and reliably download or browse their books as needed?
Digital versions of textbooks and literature are usually listed at a much lower price than print. But, in a transition year, there are the costs of devices to consider as well as the possibility that the school might want to initially offer the choice between print and digital versions. Digital options might not save as much money as you might expect. The list prices are not dramatically lower; some of the costs that publishers save on printing is offset by the costs of integrating digital functionality. And, dollar savings a school makes on digital often equate to significant time expenditures in return. Testing device compatibility, setting up, and providing support requires considerable time and effort, especially in a transition year, and often falls to faculty and can cut into instruction time.
Are you looking to integrate products that will foster co-working among students? Some digital book platforms include collaboration features, and it’s a good idea to increase flexibility by having a variety of other cross-platform applications at students’ disposal as well.
There are also many products that boast strong interactivity, including embedded exercises and progress-based customization. These tend to be browser-centered, either based all online or allowing partial downloads.
Is your school looking to generate data on student progress? Many eBook products include a range of assessment abilities that can save time compiling and analyzing data. Particularly useful within a single class, consider whether this data can efficiently and easily be incorporated into any school-wide analysis you might need to make.
Teaching tech savvy
Students, comfortable as they may be with technology, are definitely served by exposure to and instruction with today’s precursors to tomorrow’s technology. Schools may implement a bring-your-own-device or 1:1 program and implement digital learning for many reasons, but training in new ways of learning and working is often high on the list.
If you have prioritized what you want to get out of digital books, and have found titles that offer the best fit, you hopefully also have a sense of faculty’s and students’ buy-in for the transition to digital. It’s a good idea to poll students and parents, and get feedback from faculty, prior to implementation. Because aside from the function of the products themselves, the participation of the people involved will best determine success. In our next post, we will cover next steps to take toward implementation, including communication with these assets in your school community.