What Kind of Textbooks Do You (and Your Students) Want?

We’ve written several different posts over the years about textbooks, both printed and electronic.

Erin wrote about the pros and cons of using a Kindle in the classroom. Natalie shared some observations about students who use their cell phones as their e-readers. Amy experimented with ditching textbooks for a class and updated us on the results. Jason provided some advice about textbook costs and classroom ethos. I asked for some feedback and examples of how ProfHacker readers actually use electronic textbooks.

At least two trends in higher education and publishing are working together to make electronic textbooks more (potentially) attractive. First, the cost of a college degree has risen significantly over the last generation, and textbook prices have become a substantial percentage of that cost. Electronic textbooks hold out the promise of savings (although whether that promise can be fulfilled remains to be seen). Second, tools for creating, publishing, and distributing digital content have been come more and more user-friendly, allowing instructors to create their own textbooks, should they have time and inclination to do so, tailoring the content to their particular course.

What I’m most interested in with this post, however, is one specific questions: What features do instructors and students actually want in their textbooks? A recent study reports that “students find e-textbooks ‘clumsy’ and don’t use their interactive features.”

Okay, so how could they be improved? Alternately, what would the idea electronic textbook be like, in your opinion. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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

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