Technology continues to impact the way students and teachers are interacting with educational content, according to the latest survey from BISG.

The core study, Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, analyzes key trends in how students and faculty members acquire, assign, teach, and consume educational content in multiple media formats. The results from this year's study suggest that the “growing range of technological solutions for teaching and learning has meant that publishers have recast themselves as software companies offering learning platforms.”

Among the key findings:

  • Students report a gradual decline in the use of both core textbooks and learning management systems with a somewhat increased usage of online study guides, suggesting that pedagogical material is becoming more flexible.
  • Students continue to become more sophisticated in acquiring their course materials at the lowest cost, and “illicit” and “alternative” acquisition behaviors including illegal downloads are increasing in frequency.
  • Instructors report much higher levels of assigned textbooks than do students, while the percentage of students who actually purchase their books is lower.
  • Textbooks rental in on the rise, and the study also assesses the impact of Amazon's entry into the rental market.
  • Students are using a range of devices are using to read and study digital content, and details information on preferred devices.

“The impact of digital formats is transforming publisher business models and even the way courses are structured,” notes Len Vlahos, BISG Executive Director.

The study is now in its fourth year. This year's report, published under the formal title Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, Volume 4, consists of two survey field studies conducted in the fall and spring semesters, respectively.

Report 1 was published in January 2014. Report 2 incorporates the data from both survey sets and publishes on August 5, 2014. It may be purchased here. Its companion study Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education is based on one annual survey conducted in the spring semester and is available here. The data from both Student and Faculty surveys is also available via dynamic, online access through the Real-Time Reporting (RTR) portal.