The Challenge of eBooks in Academic Institutions #edtech

The goal of the JISC Report into the  ‘Challenge of eBooks in Academic Institutions’ project is to help “orientate senior institutional managers and to support institutions in the effective adoption and deployment of eBooks and eBook technology. As a consequence the project helps to support the wider ambition to enable improvements in the quality and impact of teaching, learning and research and meet rising staff and student expectations.”

“At present, for academic institutions, the ebook paradigm largely remains one of PDF format ebooks consumed using PCs. This is now dissolving. The ebook landscape is changing rapidly, driven to a large extent by developments in ebook readers and tablet devices which have enabled better ways to consume econtent.”

The report is divided into three main themes: creation, consumption, and curation, and is supported by infographics for each, case studies and other resources.

The Challenge of ebooks in Academic InstitutionsClickto view the infographics in full

“From a technical point of view ebooks are remarkably easy to create. There are a variety of ebook creation platforms available, some of them free. At the moment, from an institutional point of view, ebook creation is generally about re purposing existing content. This might be Open Educational Resources (OER) … or reformatting content created [through]the existing print book process …We expect to see more born digital ebook content as the market matures.”

“Libraries play a major role in the curation (management) of ebooks. But this position is being challenged, albeit only peripherally at present. Textbooks have always been a mixed economy where student bought resources are supplemented by the library. Commercial providers certainly see opportunity to go direct to end users or to provide course solutions directly to academics. These approaches are likely to lead to an increasing disaggregation of ebook content into smaller but coherent elements (‘chapters’ if we are to continue the language of the print book). This will present challenges, for example in how content is cited by users.”

“One of the major changes within scholarly communication in the last decade [or] so has been a transition from print to electronic resources. Ejournals are now the norm. The transition from print to ebooks is taking longer to reach critical mass despite potential in terms of discovery, access and portability. It is only as reading devices have improved that ebooks have been able to really meet the key consumer criterion of convenience. We can now expect the pace of change to quicken, not only in terms of improvement to the user experience itself but also in terms of business models. New commercial ebook platforms … are taking the opportunity of tablet devices such as the iPad to exploit enhanced content to deliver a much improved reader experience. These recent changes will no doubt overcome some of the barriers to ebook adoption by users that have been reported in much research on ebook usage to date. This presents a challenge for the institutional creation and curation of ebooks to deliver dramatically improved ebook experience, from discovery, access and consumption that can compete in a diverse and competitive market.”

The JISC report highlights a few areas ebooks, and therefore ebook publishers and hardware manufactures, ought to be focusing on. These are:

  • Focus on the user.
  • Share knowledge and experience.
  • Join staff together (library, learning technology, and teaching staff).
  • Collaborate and share the load.

View the full report, project outputs, resources on the dedicated JISC website: