(How) Do You Use ‘E-Textbooks’?

Kali, Avatar of the eBookIn part because we’ve written several ProfHacker posts about ebooks, I noted with interest an item by Ben Wieder that appeared yesterday in our Chronicle sibling, Wired Campus. The item, titled “Publishers Struggle to Get Professors to Use Latest E-Textbook Features,” reports that when it comes to course materials published in new media format, “the biggest challenge is getting professors to use the new features of the digital texts.”

These features range from supplemental textual material to quizzes that the students can take to gauge how well they’re understanding course content. Speaking for myself, I sometimes point students to supplemental material available online from the publisher of the texts I use. Norton, for example, has an impressive “web companion” for the Anthology of English Literature. They also have a useful site for students and instructors of writing courses. However, I’ve never taken the time to explore what kinds of quizzes or other online features I might suggest (or require). Why not? I haven’t really thought too much about my answer to that question, frankly. If I had to provide an answer, however, I think I’d say that it just seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Given that students who use such features reportedly perform better in class, though, perhaps I should start thinking more seriously about how to integrate these features.

How about you? Do you use online or otherwise digital course materials that are a supplement to or an integral part of your course? Why or why not? And in what ways do you use such materials? What advantages or disadvantages have you experienced? Let’s hear from you in the comments!

[Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by Javier Candeira.]

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