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Why Students and Faculty are Behind Digital Learning, and How You Can Help

Posted by Dean Asher on 9/9/15 4:00 AM
Topics: digital content, college retail, retail technology

It’s official: students are rallying behind educational technology.

We know that time and time again, it's reported that students prefer reading in print rather than digital. Yet a recent survey by VitalSource Technologies reveals that despite this, the vast majority of students agree that technology can not only help them save money, but improve their grades, academic performance and overall understanding of their learning material.


With students and instructors alike recognizing that technology can improve interactivity, receive instant feedback from professors and boost learning overall, it's no wonder they're catching interest. So how does a store that does the majority of its business in physical media adapt this information into its digital strategy?

The facts

"The survey largely found that students, as well as their teachers, are increasingly adopting digital solutions to improve learning outcomes," eCampusNews said in its report on the survey's findings. "Greater access to technology and digital course materials allows for greater interaction with content, peers and instructors, all of which play a huge role in helping students stay engaged and excited about their studies."

VitalSource's fifth annual study surveyed 500 students currently enrolled in college courses to measure the importance they place in technology's growing role in their education. Key findings include:

  • 61 percent of students said that the opportunity for more interactivity would improve learning.
  • 55 percent of students said digital learning and having teachers follow their progress in real-time personalizes their learning experience.
  • 48 percent of students said their learning would be enhanced by technology that helps them collaborate digitally with students from their class or even from other schools.

This data is backed up by recent surveys from the Book Industry Study Group (BISG.) BISG's Spring 2015 Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education© found that Integrated Learning Systems (ILS) were making major in-roads in two- and four-year institutions around the world.

ILS are defined by BISG as interactive learning systems that adapt to each student's needs and styles using "learning based algorithms, simulations and discovery exorcises." The digital components of these ILS are typically utilized by way of access codes.

BISG found that nearly 80 percent of faculty required their students to purchase codes in Spring 2015 — up about 5 percent from the term before.

Access codes and your store

Whether or not your store frequently sells digital learning materials, many professors are clearly making use of ILS and access codes. While they may go through their campus store, oftentimes professors and students are obtaining these directly from the publisher.

By taking the helm on access code procurement and management, you’re ensuring faculty go to you for the codes they need and not elsewhere. This keeps you in the loop, improves faculty relations and helps you and faculty both provide cost-saving, effective learning materials to students.

So how do you encourage faculty to adopt through you, and students to buy through you? Convenience is key. Without the access code, students can't use the content their instructors require. But sourcing online means students run the risk of getting a copy of their physical book without the code, which leaves them buying separately and spending extra money — as one dissatisfied customer found on Amazon.

"The only reason I purchased a new book was to get the access code I need for my class. This book didn't come with a registration code. I now have to pay an additional $80 to get access ... I would have saved money by purchasing this from my college bookstore."

Showcasing cost-saving digital course materials can be easy as well. With shelf tags, you can "present" your digital titles on your shelves like any print edition.

The numbers show digital is more than a passing trend, and your store can source the right materials and make it easy for students to get what they need for their classes better than anyone else. By being proactive and corralling digital materials in addition to print, you can help students save and improve your own sell-through all at the same time.

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