5 ways e-texts can help learners succeed
As Canada’s online university, Athabasca University (AU) is a leader in digital spaces and an early adopter of tools that help remove barriers to learning. That includes e-texts, or electronic textbooks, which are digital versions of printed books.
AU’s e-text partner, VitalSource, recently launched a new user interface that improves the overall experience and usability of its Bookshelf platform. It won’t change how AU learners log into the platform, but adds new search and table of contents features and makes it easier to add margin notes or highlight text. (You can learn more about the changes here.)
With that in mind, The Hub asked Dr. Jason Ponto, AU’s director of Academic Services, to share some thoughts about the advantages of e-texts, how they work, and features that can help learners succeed in their studies.
1. E-texts go where you go
One of the main benefits of e-textbooks, says Ponto, is their versatility. Through VitalSource, e-texts can be viewed on a laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet, meaning you can take them anywhere. “It’s always with you,” he says.
2. Download and preserve access
E-texts are also downloadable, which means you get to keep them well beyond your coursework. In fact, AU recommends that learners always download their e-texts as soon as they start their course.
“That way, you can keep the download forever,” Ponto says.
3. They’re just like the printed text, but with an interactive bonus
E-texts are more than digital versions of printed books. They often include learning resources such as workbooks, tutorials, videos, interactive software, and other features.
“E-texts are great. They’re a powerful, powerful tool that suits a lot of different learning styles.”
4. Can’t quite recall a passage or quote? Search it.
Another advantage of e-texts, Ponto adds, is that the content is searchable.
“Have you ever read something but can’t quite remember where you read it and maybe you’re scrambling to find that paragraph? With the search functionality, you can type in a keyword or an author’s name and find it right away.”
When you are successful in your search, you can also use the highlighter feature or write margin notes to help ensure the passage remains memorable.
5. E-texts are customizable
VitalSource has accessibility features that allow users to customize the view, spacing, font, and colour, plus create memory aids with highlights. It also has a text-to-speech tool that reads passages aloud.
“That’s a really important accessibility benefit for our learners.”