EBOOKS AS A MANDATORY TEXT IN LARGE FIRST YEAR GENERAL EDUCATION GEOSCIENCE COURSE
In the course NATS 1570.03 ‘Exploring the Solar System’, a first year general education science course, the situation arose that only an ebook was available as a required course text, and the only format available to students. As such, a series of three surveys over the course of the term and focus groups late in the term or after completion of the course were conducted to evaluate student’s experience with the ebook as the required text. Three sections of the course were surveyed – one fully online section, and two hybrid sections. Surveys addressed a number of points including demographics of the students, how students used and accessed the ebook, and comparisons with use of a standard hardcopy text.
Student responses, although generally favourable towards the ebook did indicate a number of issues that arose in ebook use. The key complaint of most students was the difficulty in reading off a screen, and a dislike of the fact that the purchase price of the ebook was only for a 1 year access to the book and its resources. Positive features of the book included the portability, and features that allowed student to bookmark and highlight, links for key terms to glossaries and other content such as videos that would not be available in the traditional hardcopy text. Factors such as gender, year of study or program did not seem to have a strong correlation with student overall experience with the ebook.