EBooks as course literature in ergonomics and human factors
Paper in proceedings, 2015
This paper concerns how to use electronic books (eBooks) as course literature, whether eBooks can replace the traditional paper book, and what to consider when using eBooks as course literature? The presented study is based on four MSc courses that used eBooks as course literature. The students' points of view were investigated with a survey, while the course examiners were interviewed. The result shows that eBooks have advantages like being free for the students and easy to access thought the internet (via the University Library), and disadvantages like being harder to read on the computer/tablet screen and harder to get an overview of the content compared to paper books. The main reflection from the authors is: since ergonomics and human factors are an interdisciplinary subject, eBooks give a better opportunity to combine multiple sources for the particular type of application area that is interesting in a specific course. Practitioner Summary: To make eBooks as course literature a successful enterprise, the study indicates the following two main recommendations: Be very careful in the selection of literature, since the format makes it more difficult for the student to scan the contents and get an overview. For the same reasons, provide the students with clear reading guidelines. In many courses at university level one fundamental element is the course literature, often in the form of a paper text book. Courses based on a well-suited book generally succeed in achieving a good match between course content and book content. In our area, ergonomics and human factors, we see two main problems with traditional paper text books. The first is that it can be hard to find one book that covers the diverse subjects in the course, so you therefore often need more than one book if you do not want to limit the course content. This stems from the fact that the research area is relatively young and basic content is still evolving. The second problem is in the relation to the students. The books in our area are often rather expensive, which means that the students hesitate to buy them, especially if they require more than one book. The books can sometime also be hard to retrieve and if they do have good subject coverage, many are heavy to carry around (which may be quite ironic in an ergonomic course). In recent years more books have been published also as electronic books (eBooks), and libraries have increased the free accessibility – for example, Chalmers library subscribes to them. One feasible solution to the problems stated above is therefore to use eBooks instead of paper books. Then you as a teacher more easily can select parts from different books, and the students have easy and free access to the literature on computers and tablets. 2. Questions and objectives This paper presents a study regarding the use of eBooks as course literature at university level. The research questions were if eBooks can replace the traditional paper book, and what to consider when using eBooks as course literature. The chosen approach was an empirical study with the objectives to (1) study students' reactions and attitudes towards eBooks as course literature, (2) study teachers' relation to the use of use eBooks as course literature, and (3) develop a short guideline for how to use eBooks as course literature.