Survey: Students who own tablets more likely to favor digital textbooks

A new survey has shown that more people favor digital textbooks. Duh! If you’re a student you probably already knew that.

The study says that students who own tablet devices are more likely to favor digital formats for their textbooks than non-table owners, and that the majority of student tablet owners think that the devices are valuable for educational purposes. The study comes from the Pearson Foundation, which is a huge textbook and educational materials corporation.


The fact that the study came from Pearson adds an interesting factor to this issue which we’ll discuss later.


The survey discloses that more than 70 percent of college students and college-bound high school seniors are interested in owning a tablet device, with almost 20 percent expecting to purchase a tablet in the next six months.


The Pearson Foundation Survey Students and Tablets was initiated to measure college students’ and college-bound high school seniors’ thoughts about digital device ownership and their intent to purchase; views towards tablets; tablet usage and features of interest; and preferences between digital or print formats when reading, studying and completing other school-related activities. The survey was done online in March 2011 by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Pearson Foundation among 1,214 college students and 200 college-bound high school seniors. The survey is the first in a series of many to evaluate students’ use, acceptance and preferences when using portable technology for learning.


While current ownership of tablets is low among those surveyed (seven percent of college students and four percent of college-bound high school seniors), nine out of 10 tablet owners think that the devices help students study better (86%), and three-quarters feel tablets help students do better in class (76%).


“The level of enthusiasm shown by the survey respondents underscores the potential of mobile technology to transform college and high school learning, particularly with regard to digital course materials,” said Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation.


The Pearson Foundation works across the educational spectrum and seeks to better understand the student experience and what helps them to excel. The Foundation has conducted several surveys including: the Pearson Foundation Community College Student Survey and the Pearson Foundation Early Childhood Education Perception Poll.


As you know, Pearson is a really big educational materials company. They claim they conducted these surveys to measure students’ interest in handheld tablets and digital educational materials. They make it seem like they are just now discovering that people have a digital preference for their textbooks and educational materials.


Pearson must think that the general population is ignorant because people have been craving digital textbooks for quite a while. Pearson loves their copyright monopolies on textbooks. They get to come out with a new edition of an important textbook every year and they get to bleed students dry because their instructors usually require the newest edition for their courses. And most of the time they get next to nothing when they try to sell them back to bookstores.


Companies like Pearson have purposely held back the development of digital textbooks because they like to charge a lot of money for the traditional physical copies. They act like the push for more digital materials is something new, it’s not.


Textbooks are damn expensive and students have been hoping for more digital options since 2007, which is when I began working on my undergrad degree. Students would do anything to get their required texts and save money purchasing. We have eBook formats and PDFs, yet there still aren’t too many digital options to save struggling students money.


Pearson trots out their surveys to make it look like they are a company who has their finger on the pulse of what students want, except they’re a few years late on this one. Digital technology has been redefining the way people get their educations for decades. Preferences for digital textbooks are nothing new, I have an issue with Pearson pretending like people are just now starting to call for more affordable digital options.


Pearson has purposely stalled innovation in their work so they can continue to milk their cash cow. What we need is a revolution in education. We need cheaper digital alternatives in textbooks; we need a digital textbook rebellion. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.