A common complaint from university students everywhere is that there are never enough copies of course texts to go around. The rise of the e-book has the potential to change this and Manchester Business School’s e-book pilot project was initiated with the aim of improving core text access and enhancing the student experience.
What we did
In Semester Two of 2013/14, the Library ran a pilot project with Karen Niven, Lecturer in Organisational Psychology and e-Learning co-ordinator for Manchester Business School, working with Pearson Books and the VitalSource e-textbook service. 400 students on the undergraduate ‘Introduction to Work Psychology’ course were offered access to their core text as an e-book, available on any device for the whole semester, with annotations made by the lecturer to guide the students’ reading.
To help us assess the impact of the project, students were asked to provide feedback during and at the end of the course unit. We were also able to obtain data from VitalSource’s e-book analytics.
The lecturer also collected student feedback at the end of the course unit while there was a formal question in the course unit survey on core text provision.
What we found
The amount of student feedback was low but we did get the following positive comments on the pilot:
- “The online textbook was a great idea”
- “Having access to the e-book with the teacher’s comments was a great opportunity, we should have that in all modules!!”
- “The book being online and not having to spend £60 just to purchase it. And we could also access Karen’s notes which was great”
Anecdotal evidence from the lecturer, supported by data from VitalSource, confirmed that usage of the ebook stayed low throughout the semester – including the exam period when increased usage might have been expected.
The lecturer felt that the pilot was a “good experience”, that being able to annotate core reading was beneficial to the learning experience of the students and that e-book provision would have merit even if the specific module being used for the pilot did not provide much data on this occasion.