Report: More Faculty are Making the Shift to Digital Classroom Resources

In the last five years, more faculty at higher education institutions are choosing to make the shift from the use of print to digital textbooks, according to new research by Bay View Analytics.

The report, “Inflection Point: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education,” found that more faculty members now prefer to use digital materials. It also found that colleges and universities across the country are growing increasingly concerned with the cost of materials for their students. Additionally, more faculty are realizing that many of their students often skip reading required texts because they can’t afford them.

“We are in the midst of a transition in the way that course materials are distributed and I think this report really highlights that transition,” said Nicole Allen,  director of open education at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).

According to Bay View’s research, 55% of faculty reported that cost was the primary reason some students could not access course materials, and 37% of faculty said that students didn’t think they needed the course materials.

Less than a third of faculty reported that their students preferred print; more believed their students wanted to use digital resources. And faculty are more likely to prefer digital materials for graduate courses than at the undergraduate level, the report said. Additionally, those who teach online or blended courses favored the use of digital resources.

The preference for either digital or print also varied by discipline. Almost half of education, computer and information science faculty preferred digital materials over print ones. On the other hand, only 15% of faculty members teaching history and government said they preferred digital over print, according to the report.

Over 80% of both groups of faculty agree that the cost of course materials is a serious problem, the research said.

To increase access to course materials, more institutions have started using Open Educational Resources (OER) to address affordability issues among students.

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