Though it’s proven quite popular, eContent is a relatively new and rapidly changing option in the grand scheme of course materials. As a result, it’s often misunderstood by administrators, faculty and students alike.
That’s why MBS Direct eContent Support Specialist Logan Castonguay gave the Direct Network a few minutes of his time to shed some light on common questions students and schools have about eBooks and other forms of eContent. As someone whose job revolves around digital course materials and understanding how they work, he also provided some insight about the future of eContent in the educational landscape.
What is the No. 1 question customers have about eBooks and other eContent?
The big question is how to access their eContent. Especially with first-time students, everything is new to them. Plus we have multiple options for schools to choose from regarding how digital content is accessed, delivered and paid for, so no two schools are exactly the same. Some students need to be directed to the content shelf in their Online Bookstore, while others may need to access their titles in their LMS.
Regardless of the system in place at their school, we can help direct students to the eContent they need to succeed in class.
What are some other common questions they have, and how does the eContent team address those issues?
Generally, most questions are fairly simple — something along the lines of "how do I access my account?" and "where is my access code?" We also have many people wanting to know just what an eBook is and what makes it different from a hard copy of the item. Generally, it's just as simple as one is paper and the other is digital. Most everything you can do with a hard copy, you can do with an eBook!
A lot of the time, it's a simple case of guiding students to log in with the same email address they used to order and click on the correct link. Usually when someone gets where they need to be, it doesn't take long before everything falls into place. We also want to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as it can for the student — whether they're calling, emailing or instant messaging us, if we can help them learn how to get access to what they need, everything will be easier for them in the future.
What advice would you offer students to address some of these common questions or concerns before they even reach out to the Contact Center?
The best advice I can give students is to read over the email and instructions in its entirety before starting. We try to make everything as simple as possible, but a wrong turn can throw someone out of balance. As always, we're happy to help get everyone back on track!
What are the most student-friendly features of MBS Direct's eContent?
The number one feature is how easy they are to use. With most of our eContent, you can read them on your school computer, then go on to your iPad on a bus ride home, and once you're there read over on the computer. Portability is also a big feature: with many people getting mobile devices that are always at hand, it's easy to just pick them up and read when you want. You can also highlight, take notes, search and even access links and videos. The affordable price of eContent is just a plus on top!
How has eContent changed over the years, both in terms of what publishers offer and how MBS Direct makes it available to students?
The eBooks we carry have gotten incredibly more user-friendly as the years have gone on. Content publishers are making it easier for students to get their eContent, and MBS Direct has made it increasingly convenient to purchase and access digital materials by putting all of the students' eContent in one place, whether that's the Online Bookstore or the school's LMS. There's also a huge push for the mobile market, especially with how prevalent mobile devices are getting, and we're seeing eReaders that optimize the content for the device the student is using.
What should schools and instructors be aware of when considering eContent?
Not everyone's ready to throw away their paperbacks, so showcasing the additional features that aren't available with print books and how user-friendly and useful eContent can be are pretty important. When you consider that they can be accessed on most computers with an internet connection, and on most common mobile devices, it's changing what used to be a full backpack into a device the size of a notebook.
What things do you think might change in the future?
I am already seeing some pushes towards "digital only" schooling, and I suspect that methodology and use of digital course materials will increase. They're really just so easy to use, and the most limiting factors are battery life and for some people the glare gets to their eyes. But the fact you can have a device in your hand that holds every single book you'll use for every course, that's something that should be a game changer.