Singapore University of Social Science (SUSS) has launched
e-textbooks for most of its courses. The technological initiative is part of a
revised program to welcome the University’s July 2018 student intake.
In the past, if you’d forgotten your textbook to class, be prepared
to get chided and/or sent out of class. The humiliation was not without reason.
On the part of the educator, prepared pedagogy might lose its effectiveness.
Students without textbooks might also be less engaged since they are unable to
visualise the course flow. SUSS is getting ahead of the curve with an e-textbook
Knowledge is Powered
SUSS is cognisant of how textbooks are indispensable to the learning
process. Hence, its latest initiative does not render textbooks useless.
Rather, the University reimagines the efficacy of textbooks with the help of
technology. The result is an improved learning experience and outcome.
By switching to e-textbooks, students can learn anytime, anywhere.
The convenience it affords ensures that students will be able to take ownership
of their learning. Moreover, the University boasts that the program which
students view the textbooks can be accessed across any device and operating
No Trade Offs, Only New
Harnessing accessibility and convenience of digital media are only
the building blocks of SUSS’s initiative. Key transformative elements lie in
the features which support the e-textbooks.
Traditional forms of learning such as highlighting, notetaking and
using bookmarks will still be available to students, albeit digitally. An
upgrade to these learning strategies is the collaborative element. For example,
through the highlight function, faculty will be able to draw student’s
attention to pertinent information. Along a similar vein, students will be able
to highlight areas which demand greater clarification.
Other attractive features include: the ability to copy texts onto other
documents for personal notetaking and sharing, a “find” function to look up
only the most salient information instantly, and interactive learning tools to
help students revise course material on the go. Best of all, students will be
able to access the material both online and offline.
Getting Smarter with Data
The most attractive feature of all is the data analytics function
made available to instructors. The data gathered from student usage of the
e-textbook platform can be used to achieve a student-centred learning model. Course
instructors will be able to tailor course material to suit an individual
Any guesswork on how to better student performance is rooted out.
The platform’s data analysis dashboard for instructors informs them on a
student’s learning progress and performance. Instructors can monitor if
students are coping well with the course workload, and how receptive they are
to the content. Rather than relying on a semesterly review to intervene in a
student’s academic progress, instructors can nip the problem in the bud. Individualised
coping strategies can be designed to enhance a student’s performance outcome.
All on Board
Superior mobile readiness among Singaporeans is the key reason why
SUSS can roll out the e-textbook initiative. Furthermore, the supporting
infrastructure have long been in place. Making the leap to use e-textbooks will
not come as a shock to instructors and students. Yet, SUSS is not taking any
chances. Prior to rolling out the initiative, training
courses and helpdesks have been setup.
Studies about using technology in the classroom as an innovative
pedagogical tool have abounded. While technology as a learning tool
might be useful in preparing students to embrace a digitised world, more needs
to be done to help students engage deeply in it. Students these days are more
than capable of accessing a mammoth volume of information through the internet.
What’s left for instructors is to inculcate in students what technology cannot
achieve – creative problem solving and socioemotional skills. Herein also lies
opportunities for tech developers to save our future.
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