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(ARA) – Across the country, colleges and universities are embracing innovative, digital technologies and customized learning platforms to drive academic achievement. While print textbooks remain the foundation of higher education course materials, publishers are creating new digital applications that enable institutions and faculty to become more effective, and engage digital learners to enhance their academic achievement and succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Educational publishers recognize the power of today’s technology and devices like the iPod and Amazon Kindle to adapt to how students learn. They’re studying how students interact with these tools and process information, and how instructors teach, to design new ways to make learning a more effective, efficient, and personalized experience for students.

“By observing thousands of students and their learning styles, we’ve ascertained a great deal about their work habits, study plans, and other learning preferences. This information is being used by today’s publishers to create digital tools to connect students to content on a new level and empower them to succeed,” says Ed Stanford, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education. “A transformation is occurring on campuses across the country as students embrace technology in every aspect of learning.”
McGraw-Hill’s Connect for example, is a powerful, web-based assessment and learning platform that assists both instructor and student. One feature of Connect can assess a student’s knowledge by delivering appropriate questions at the right time to help them master course content. It’s one more major development in educational technology that is helping students learn more efficiently and achieve greater success academically.

Students studying for midterms and finals now have online tools to test themselves, share notes, and listen online to key concepts from lectures. Digital assessment tools are also becoming mainstream. At some schools, introductory math fail rates are as high as 50 percent due mainly to inaccurate course placement. Today, students who once failed are now succeeding, thanks to an innovative Web-based software system that ensures accurate course placement and can even provide individualized learning plans.

Artificial intelligence now provides the power behind new tutoring software for accounting courses that is proven to increase test scores by at least a full letter grade. Then there’s, an online note-sharing Web site for students, which operates as an online study group to help students engage in their coursework.

College courses, departments, and in a few cases entire campuses are experimenting with going digital by replacing print textbooks with eBook versions of course content. EBooks are digital resources that allow students to search, highlight and print content, share notes and create personal study guides directly on their computers, iPods or digital reading devices. Available through online marketplaces like CourseSmart, eBooks truly engage students, making it easier for them to learn and offering cost-savings of almost half the price of print textbooks.

To test this concept, in 2008, more than 500 students at Northwest Missouri State University participated in an eBook trial to investigate the usefulness and efficacy of eBooks compared to traditional print textbooks. Once students learned how to use eBooks and work the technology behind them, they found tremendous value in the convenience and accessibility of digital course content.

Today’s educators and publishers are working together to craft the best learning solutions for colleges and universities. Innovative digital tools are being developed to not only make learning easier and more effective, but most importantly to better prepare students for the world that awaits.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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