Picture a college student studying for an upcoming exam. If you’re envisioning her surrounded by marked-up textbooks, you probably aren’t a recent graduate. These days, you’re just as likely to see the student with a tablet, smartphone or laptop taking advantage of digital course materials — and student grades appear to be rising as a result.
New digital platforms are making a difference for students who have access to them. Students using a digital learning platform increased their grades by one full letter, with more B students getting As and more C students getting Bs, during an independent study of more than 700 students at six institutions, which was conducted by a member organization of the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
Community college students participating in the study saw their graduation rates improve by 12.5 percent. A different independent study of another learning platform by another AAP member found that students using only the textbook improved 51 percent, while students who used both the textbook and the digital learning platform improved 79 percent.
Indeed, a digital learning revolution is well underway in colleges and universities across America — and the benefits are even extending to student and parent pocketbooks.
Though the cost of college tuition has been steadily rising, the student cost of coursework has stayed flat. The money saved by shifting from print to interactive digital platforms in the classroom can be as much as 60 percent.
“For more than 10 years, publishers have been redefining the concept of textbooks and course materials through content and technology innovations,” says David E. Anderson, Executive Director of Higher Education with the AAP. “Interactive materials can now be used on virtually any device, including a laptop, tablet or smartphone, making it easy for students to study whenever and wherever they like.”
Digital learning materials have evolved way beyond their origins as a simple PDF copy of a textbook. These advanced educational platforms now include quizzes, tests and games to help better engage students in their coursework and in the classroom. The learning experience, in turn, has become less static and more interactive.
Beyond making learning more engaging, the materials are helping customize the learning experience for each student. The latest materials use artificial intelligence to focus on those areas where individual students need the most attention.
Professors can employ real-time monitoring to determine how individual students and whole classes perform, adjusting their lessons to better meet the needs of the class. They can also use these programs to communicate directly with specific students or with the entire class, making introductory-level classes — which often have hundreds of students — more personalized in ways that weren’t possible in the past.
Lower-cost digital course material options can add up to convenience, cost savings and better graduation rates for students. That’s a valuable lesson being learned by today’s college students.