In a recent Ideas in Action, Delta Think explored the topic of Digital Transformation (DX) in Education. Digital Transformation is a decisive strategy intended to increase the value, reputation, and sustainability of higher education institutions: how can educational institutions be reshaped to foster learner-first approaches while also keeping up to date with the growing technological, cultural, and financial demands of the 21st century?

Part of the answer to this question focuses directly on teaching and learning. Digital Transformation promises to reinvent education using technology to support curriculum delivery, improve pedagogy, expand access, and ultimately improve teaching efficacy and student outcomes. EDUCAUSE reported the top two drivers of Digital Transformation are 1) improving the student experience and 2) improving faculty teaching and advising. While there are multiple technologies and systems being leveraged to address these needs, scholarly content of all shapes and sizes remains foundational in higher education.

The 2022 ACRL Academic Trends and Statistics survey reported that since 2017 the average eBook collection across all library types (community college, college, and university libraries) increased 96.6% from 315,213 to 619,895. Despite cultural change and cost barriers, institutions, via their libraries, have invested to build significant collections of eBooks. Alongside journals, eBooks form the bedrock of the academic research enterprise and are fundamental in support of the education usage occasions that power DX.

How Does Book-Based Content Support Digital Transformation?

eBooks and book-based content can play a critical role in support of two key drivers of DX:

  • Student Success – Despite overwhelming evidence (and common sense) that access to content impacts student success, SPARC reported in 2023 that due to the cost of required course materials, more than two in five students (44%) said they took fewer classes, nearly one in three (32%) reported earning a poor grade, and nearly a quarter (24%) reported dropping out of a course. Administrators are focusing on improving access to educational resources as part of their DX initiatives, including content that is funded and provided by their library.
  • Sequencing and ScaffoldingCourse design has traditionally been the purview of faculty. Core textbooks are often supplanted by learning objects including book chapters, multimedia, and even figures and tables, providing the flexibility to adapt courses and integrate content into technology tools and platforms essential to efficiency and efficacy of teaching and learning. eBooks serve as a primary source of information and knowledge for a course and empower faculty to select and utilize content that align with the learning objectives and cover essential concepts.

What does DX Look Like in Teaching and Learning?

Dr. Jonathan Wisco is a leader in curriculum design and one of the architects of Boston University School of Medicine’s pre-clinical curriculum, Principles Integrating Science, Clinical Medicine, and Equity (PISCE). During a recent webinar on how technology has impacted education (co-hosted by Delta Think and Silverchair), Dr. Wisco and his medical students shared their current education needs and preferences: self-directed learning is primary … they are motivated information-seekers and will utilize multiple resources, methods, and learning styles to ensure mastery.

“You want the flexibility of a curriculum to be able to learn when you want and how you can, in the most efficient way for yourself.”
– Gabrielle Lakis, M1

The learning paradigm continues to move away from rote memorization to emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving skills, shifting the focus from linear comprehensive content to granular, specific, and contextual knowledge.

“You cannot memorize everything you need to know, but where can you go to find that information when you need that information … you don’t need to memorize every little detail … and that is an affirmation of where our curriculum is heading.”
– Gabrielle Lakis, M1

Dr. Wisco emphasized the benefits of personalized learning. He and his colleagues work not only to ensure students have the knowledge they need to pass board exams, but also are prepared to have an impact in their field of medicine throughout their professional life.

“The idea of individualized education is extremely important to us … and one of our highest priorities is to train lifelong learners. We are trying to train them with the skills to be able to decide what content is most important for them at the moment. Instead of telling them what anatomy is, we help them discover and understand why that anatomy is important.”
– Dr. Jonathan Wisco, Associate Professor

Is Your Content DX-Ready?

There are fundamental characteristics that can ensure book-based content remains a vital component in support of teaching and learning and student success. How can publishers ensure that their content is relevant in support of DX? By being fluid, flexible, and findable.

“What is most frustrating to me is when I want to provide content and deploy it to the students in the way they need it, but I go to this resource, and this resource, and this resource. And I can’t use it anymore because it is not helpful for that [learning] pathway.”
– Dr. Jonathan Wisco, Associate Professor

Let’s Talk

Delta Think helps publishers, professional societies, technology companies, start-ups and others find their place in the rapidly transforming education ecosystem. We collaborate with our clients using proven methodologies to define actionable, customer-driven strategies across content and product development, commercial infrastructure, and operations. Our experience in the education landscape – from undergraduate and graduate-level through to professional development, licensure, and certification – is your opportunity. We’d love to share more about what we are seeing and hearing in the world of education and how your organization can learn to thrive in this fast-moving landscape. Contact us today to discuss an education-based project customized to satisfy your specific organizational objectives and budget.