While the Teaching and Learning Conference 2014 is getting under way, yesterday we discussed one of the major trends in education: the uprising of digital content.

First, we heard from Kate Worlock, VP and Lead Analyst at Outsell, a market research and advisory firm. Kate looked into how students access content, what students and faculties want from digital textbooks and how the textbook market is changing.

Outsell’s research found that students liked the accessibility and lower cost of digital textbooks and more than 40% of students want to use digital resources over print. This is one of the reasons why the global print textbook market is expected to shrink by half to just 30% by 2020 and students are increasingly accessing their content on portable devices.

If digital is the way forward, publishers need to increase the amount of interactive content available for students who access their materials on-the-move. According to Jeni Evans from VitalSource, an e-textbook delivery platform, the future of digital content relies on its ability to be interactive, with the ePub format taking the lead.

We also heard from Vanessa Boddington from McGraw-Hill Education on the benefits for both students and faculties of using adaptive learning technologies. Its system, Learnsmart, identifies the strengths and weaknesses in individual students’ knowledge, highlighting areas they need to build upon. This also enables lecturers to adapt their lessons depending on the capability of the class. In a study conducted in the US, Learnsmart increased pass rates by 11.5% and saw a 10% rise in retention.

And to close the forum was our own Ted Hopper, VP Business Development Operations, and Rob Reynolds, one of our partners from MBS, to discuss “Bridging the gap to the future of learning content”. They highlighted how students have changed from being passive learners to active consumers. Students, now, are demanding more from institutions – they expect education to be available anytime, anywhere and are ready to attend multiple institutions to get the exact skill mastery they need to be employable. Moreover, they expect digital content to be ready when they need it, just a few clicks away.

The consumerisation of education is happening now, and Blackboard is ready for the challenge.

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