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  • Man studying in a college library

    Cultivating Empowered Learners: An educator spotlight on Pearson eTextbooks

    By Pearson

    Justin Hoshaw, associate professor of biology at Waubonsee Community College, knows that an educator must always search for more effective ways to support their students’ learning, which is why he has used Pearson's cutting-edge online learning platforms and eTextbooks in his classes for years.

    Recently, Justin and a colleague conducted an extensive evaluation of their microbiology course, which included the consideration of new options for the course’s primary textbook. During their search, they reviewed Microbiology: Basic and Clinical Principles by Lourdes P. Norman-McKay. Both were so impressed with the eTextbook that they were the first educators in the country to adopt it — even before it was officially published.   

    eTextbook features that support student learning

    eTextbooks offer an array of unique features to support students’ learning.

    1. highlight and take notes
    2. search for a specific term or idea
    3. make flashcards based on key concepts
    4. listen to the audio version*

    The benefits of making the switch to eTextbooks

    Previously, Justin encouraged his students to buy the print version of his course’s textbook, but he changed his mind after witnessing the many advantages of eTextbooks for students and educators.

    For students, the ability to highlight and take notes in the eTextbook can help with overall comprehension. And when it’s time to prepare for assessments, they can use their annotations (as well as the learning objectives that accompany each section) to focus their study efforts and maximize their efficiency. As Justin says, “There are some students that are going to go back and reread the whole chapter when studying for an exam. No, let’s go back and look at those highlights. Look at the comments you added into the text. It will save you time. It will help you focus on those important concepts that you’ve already highlighted and already commented on. You are going to be more successful reflecting on that information.”

    The Pearson+ mobile app that offers both the eTextbook and audiobook options is especially beneficial for busy students. The convenience and flexibility of accessing their course materials on the go helps them keep up with their assignments. “There is a benefit to being able to go through and read the text, but then having the audio to listen to as they are reading, I think that really helps reinforce the information for the students. It helps keep them on track,” says Justin.

    As an educator, Justin also finds many of the features of eTextbooks and the Mastering online learning platform helpful, particularly the instructor dashboard. The analytics provided within Mastering Microbiology help him understand how his students are interacting with the eTextbook. “That was something that caused me to take a second look at having students use the eTextbook, the ability for the faculty member to go in and identify how long students have spent reading, how many comments they’ve made, how many highlights they’ve made,” he says. This is valuable information that Justin can use to support students who are struggling or falling behind in the course.

    The feature Justin found most impressive about Norman-McKay's eTextbook in particular was the way the content guided students through the learning process. "What clinched the deal was the study recommendations and coaching throughout the text,” he says. “I had never seen so many tips for students to keep in mind that would help them understand the material. It was as if the instruction was already embedded into the text and coaching them along.”

    Justin’s students agree that the layout of the content and the tone of the writing made them feel more engaged with the information. “They felt like they had a tutor right there with them while they were reading the text, Justin remarks.

    Pearson partners with innovative authors to create enriching experiences that meet learners where they are and inspire them to love learning. Justin’s experiences with Pearson eTextbooks and online learning platforms has convinced him that he made the right choice to switch from print to digital.

     

    *Audiobook available in most titles

  • Photo of higher ed students studying with laptops

    Why eTextbooks are gaining popularity in Higher Ed

    By Pearson

    There is so much breadth and depth to what Pearson can do to help you and your students achieve the best learning outcomes.  Consider the following features and benefits that eTextbooks offer. And learn why a growing audience of instructors and students are taking advantage of our remarkable Pearson+ subscription capabilities. In fact, nearly 5 million subscribers have embraced the Pearson+ subscription platform. 

    To begin, we will focus on eTextbooks. They are more popular than ever. Don’t just take our word for it. A great deal of research over the past five years shows that well-designed digital content can be understood as effectively as print and offers added benefits for students.*  

    Remember, not all of your students are fully acquainted with all the capabilities of eTextbooks. Take the time at the beginning of your next course to be sure you communicate all the features and benefits of any new eTextbook, as well as Pearson+. 

    Affordability  

    In many cases digital eTextbooks are up to 80% cheaper than traditional printed textbooks. With our Pearson+ platform, students can subscribe to their course etextbooks at one low monthly rate or pay for the semester upfront. At the end of their subscription term, students have the flexibility to cancel, renew, or change titles to accommodate their learning needs. Pearson offers a range of features that appeal to a variety of learning styles. The user experience is elegant and intuitive.  Naturally that means the navigation makes it easy for students to make their way through the content. Many of our etextbook titles have embedded audio and video to engage students and help them understand difficult concepts in the course.  Full audiobooks are available for most titles which can help with comprehension, retention, and gives students the option to listen on the go. 

    In addition, no one should underestimate the value of adjusting the speed of any audio. Certain students may choose a slower speed, but many prefer to accelerate the audio for more efficiency. In addition, a student listening may strengthen comprehension further and even activate the highlighting of the text in sync with the audio. 

    Interactive features like charts and diagrams make it easier for students who may prefer to explore and analyze such engaging visuals. 

    Interactivity strengthens how students study 

    Markup and additional interactive features make it easier for studying than ever before. They can customize the display of content. And students are happy to know that once they return to any content, the eTextbook remembers where they left off and the learner can dive right back in. 

    Additional benefits for studying include:  

    • Notetaking  
    • Pre-built flashcards** 
    • Create your own flashcards  
    • Highlighting  
    • Bookmarking 
    • Adjusting the point size of the text  

    And the robust enhanced search engine even offers an excellent sub-menu referencing groupings of relevant videos, key terms and interactive media. In fact, Pearson+ is exploring a possible new etextbook feature regarding the way students learn, from an individual experience to a social one. Students can see who else is studying, start discussions and post links and videos. The social experience within the eTextbook is global, giving all users the ability to engage. The experience is not limited to students in a certain class at a specific university.  

    Encourage your students to learn in the way they learn best.  

    Content Mastery 

    A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that when students take courses that engage digitally and in-person, content mastery can occur twice as quickly, and pass rates for at-risk students can increase by 33%. 

    Pearson+. Anywhere, anytime 

    The Pearson+ subscription platform is the ideal way students can access eTextbooks. Among other compelling features, with Pearson+ they can consolidate all their eTextbooks, videos, audio, study tools, and supportive content all in one place. Naturally, this allows your students to work more efficiently.  

    There’s an app for this 

    With the Pearson+ mobile app, students can pick up at any point where they left off and learn on the go. Learners can easily read offline right in our app. So they can have more freedom to make the most of their day. Here are some of the main reasons the platform and the app are so appealing. 

    Once selected, they have immediate access to the content. Students can learn on the go (with online and offline access). They can learn with their eTextbooks wherever life takes them. Pearson+ offers students instant access to their eTextbooks, videos and study tools, all in one place. With easy access through a subscription or their MyLab® or Mastering® course, our intuitive interface, enhanced search, highlights, notes, and audiobooks allow them to choose how they learn best. 

    Meet your students where they are 

    So why not meet students where they are, figuratively and literally. Everyone knows they are often on the run. The content is optimized for a learner’s phone or another mobile device. It’s a no-brainer for today’s tech-savvy generation. Your students are certainly accustomed to processing information from smart phones and other mobile devices.   

    We are also mindful of working learners. The convenience of Pearson+ gives them the flexibility to learn wherever and whenever best suits their needs and their busy work schedule. Any student on the go can listen to an eTextbook while cooking, cleaning, driving or while tackling whatever task happens to be in front of them.  

    Lastly, be sure to take full advantage of our grade-technology too. It’s a familiar feature for your class and a time-saver for you. So you can focus on additional priorities. 

    Go ahead. Be the best instructor you can be. Learn more about eTextbooks and Pearson+ today. 

     

    *Webinar: https://www.pearson.com/us/about/news-events/events/2021/12/digital-reading-in-the-modern-world.html

    ** Available in most titles

  • Improve learning by adding video

    Improve learning by adding video

    By Pearson

    Video is everywhere. With more than a billion hours of video footage viewed on YouTube every day,1 it is a medium that most students are both familiar and comfortable with. The question is not whether to use videos in higher education, but how to use them to improve learner outcomes.There is plenty of research that touches on the role of video in learning, and there are even some studies that specifically examine the different ways of using video in university or college courses.

    After reviewing and analyzing this research, we’re confident that most higher education courses could improve learner outcomes by supplementing instruction and other learning content with relevant educational videos.

    Here are three reasons why.

    1. Students want to learn from videos

    Video is part of higher education even when it’s not officially part of the learning experience. Some higher education students prefer videos to written sources and many will seek out subject-related videos on YouTube, even when they’re not assigned.

    In a survey of hundreds of business students:

    • 71% said they used YouTube as part of their academic learning
    • 70.5% believed they could learn a lot about a subject by watching related videos instead of reading a book2

    In a 2020 study, a group of higher education students was given 30 minutes of online research time to learn enough about a topic to write a brief summary. On average, the students spent 8.5 of their 30 minutes watching videos. Only 15.7% of the students watched no videos at all.3

    Studies also seem to show that the appeal of video is not limited to particular subjects or learning preferences.4 Whatever the course, and whatever the makeup of the student body, including videos can engage students in learning.

    2. Supplemental videos improve learning

    Videos clearly appeal to students, but do they actually help them learn? When combined with other learning methods, there is evidence that they can.

    A 2021 study looked at different ways of using videos in higher education courses. The researchers found that pivoting the course to video — dropping existing teaching methods and having students watch videos instead — did improve learning somewhat.

    But the biggest improvements came when video was added to the existing course content, rather than replacing it.5

    This may be because adding video gives students more ways to understand the content. If the learning didn’t take hold from a lecture or a written text, maybe it would from a video. Whereas when video replaced other methods, if a student didn’t grasp the content from the video, they had no alternative ways in.

    3. Videos can directly affect learning

    Does including videos improve learning by making the course more engaging, or do the videos themselves help improve learning? Understanding this helps determine the best types of video to include in higher education courses.

    A 2014 study experimented with integrating different types of videos into lectures. When the videos were mainly entertaining, students’ motivation and engagement improved. Higher motivation and engagement are associated with better learning outcomes.

    But when the videos were mainly educational and directly relevant to the lecture topic, students performed better on post-lecture quizzes than those who attended a lecture without videos.6

    This shows that while videos can affect learning by engaging students, they can also have a direct effect on students’ knowledge.

    Improving learning for students at all experience levels

    To summarize, based on a range of studies:

    • higher education courses should include videos
    • videos should supplement, not replace, existing course content and instruction
    • videos should be educational in nature and directly relevant to the subject

    When videos are integrated into higher education courses in this way, students — whatever their previous academic history — are more likely to outperform their predicted grades.7

  • How unlimited information actually limits learning

    How unlimited information actually limits learning

    By Pearson

    Once, students looking to supplement their knowledge of a topic had to rely on the limited selection of books in their college library. Today, college students have nearly unlimited information at their fingertips. But does more information always equal better learning?

    A number of recent research studies suggest that in fact, providing students with a more limited set of high-quality resources chosen specifically for the course can lead to better outcomes than when students supplement their knowledge using the internet. Importantly, it may also help to level out inequities in the learning environment.

    It’s true that there is a large amount of high quality information available online, on nearly every topic imaginable. It’s also true that searching, assessing, filtering, and making use of online resources are valuable 21st-century skills. So it’s understandable when higher education courses call for students to look online for sources to cite, or to supplement their knowledge of the course subject.

    But that’s just the thing: finding information online and judging its reliability are skills in themselves. This complicates learning, because:

    • not all students in the course will have those skills to the same degree
    • they’re not usually the skills the course is teaching (or assessing)

    Reliable, or just familiar?

    As you may expect from a group of people who have largely grown up with the internet, higher education students know that not everything they find online is reliable. They do think about the origins of the information they find, and judge whether they are credible.

    However, students don’t always know how to make these kinds of judgments accurately.

    In one 2020 study, higher education students were provided with several items from different sources and prompted to write about the items’ perspectives. More than 2 in 5 of the students (41%) assumed that certain items were credible because they recognized the source.1 They thought they were judging the reliability of the information, but were really rating the familiarity of the sources.

    Another study, also published in 2020, asked economics students to use a search engine to investigate the truth of several claims. Again, these students ended up relying heavily on sites they were familiar with, rather than truly valid or reliable sources. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of their most cited sources was Wikipedia.2

    Of course, not all students make the same mistakes. For example, a 2017 study found that students who score higher for reading comprehension are also more likely to find relevant, valid results when using search engines.3 Students with previous experience of searching for academic sources may also be more accurate judges of the information they find.

    But this presents another challenge to learning. It means that in courses that ask students to supplement their subject knowledge by searching the internet, those with lower reading comprehension and less academic experience are at an unfair disadvantage.

    Best use of effort

    Even with sophisticated search engines, sifting the vast quantities of information on the internet for relevant sources takes time and effort. So does assessing the reliability of each source.

    These activities also add to students’ cognitive load: the amount of brainpower needed to complete a task.

    Students’ time, effort, and cognitive load are all finite resources. What they expend on finding and assessing sources, they aren’t using to actually increase their knowledge.

    All of this means that providing students with a hand-picked suite of high quality resources, chosen specifically for the course, is better for learning than leaving them to find their own online.

    Providing learning resources as part of the course levels the playing field. Students with different levels of reading comprehension and academic experience will all have equally valid, reliable materials to learn from.

    And because students tend to trust material provided as part of the course, they won’t use up time, effort, or cognitive load gauging whether the material is reliable.

    All in one

    This isn’t a call to send students back to the college library. Even if the world wide web isn’t the best environment for learning, there are still clear benefits to digital learning.

    In fact, digital platforms allow us to free up even more of students’ cognitive load for learning: by providing suites of reliable resources under the same roof as learning and assessment.

    _____________________________________

    This is the thinking behind Pearson+. No switching, searching, or wondering where to look. Everything needed for the course, all in one place – leading to better, more equitable outcomes for all.

     

    Sources

    1 Banerjee, Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, & Roeper, 2020

    2 Nagel et al., 2020

    3 Hahnel et al., 2017