Student Preference of a Customized, Open-Access Multi-touch Digital Textbook in a Graduate Education Course


The purpose of this article is to add to the collective body of research regarding the use of digital books (or eTexts) and their preference by students in higher education. Although there have been many studies in this area, the findings are not necessarily consistent. One reason for this inconsistency is the rapid evolution of e-reading capabilities through recent advances in tablet computing. No empirical studies currently exist to describe the impact of multi-touch interactive eTexts, which are only accessible on these latest tablet computers. The purpose of this study was to determine how graduate pre-service teacher education students perceive the interactivity, engagement, and value of customized course eTexts. Participants in this quasi-experimental study rated the level of interactivity, engagement, and value of three eText formats: page fidelity (Adobe PDF), reflowable text (Kindle ePub), and multi-touch (Apple iBooks). Users of the multi-touch eText reported a significantly more interactive and engaging experience with their text than the other eText users. The experiment also revealed that students overwhelmingly prefer a free, customized open-access text for use in their course, no matter what eText format is used.