As part of our ongoing efforts to maximise student usage of our e-textbook pilots, working with Vitalsource, we decided to host a lunchtime e-book and pizza training event for our students. We hoped to entice the students in – not only to increase their awareness and use of the e-book provided – but also so they might champion the benefits to their peers, the ‘carrot’ being the free pizza (but not as a topping!)
Being billed as a training event to help students maximise the benefits of using their e-books, we decided to initially invite just those who were about to embark on their semester two modules at the beginning of February. This would involve 15 pilots, meaning the invitation could potentially reach over 2,000 students across the University, a concern as the room we had booked could only hold a maximum of 40! There was a fine line between managing expectations, getting a good spread across disciplines and drawing in enough students to make the event worthwhile. Eventbrite was used to manage the event and invitations were sent out to the students via their lecturers leading on the pilots.
As it turned out, we had a flurry of bookings from one School and a couple of bookings from two others, not the even spread across Schools or the numbers we had hoped for.
On the day itself, despite the logistical problems of Domino’s being able to deliver 14 large pizzas and drinks to a pedestrianised area of the University campus and having cleared the fact that we were going to be eating hot food within a no-eat zone of the Library, not as many students turned up as has originally booked. Fortunately a couple of them brought some hungry friends from the same course which bumped up the numbers considerably!
Interestingly, we also ran a couple of focus groups with Semester one students later on the same day, but these were incentivised with £15 Amazon vouchers – the take up was much higher which perhaps says a lot about the value to students of free pizza versus hard cash!
Needless to say the pizzas were demolished pretty quickly and the students settled down to watch a demonstration of how to use all the features available via the Vitalsource Bookshelf platform. They looked engaged and many questions were asked, especially about the ‘help’ features available.
Would we do it again? We’d have to think carefully but as one of the students said at the end, he had found the session so useful that he would be sharing what he had learnt via his cohort’s student forum. This is exactly what we had been hoping for!
Flora Bourne, University of Manchester Library