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New Survey Data Reveals College Student and Faculty Opinions about Digital Course Materials

Students and faculty value the time saving and mobile accessibility of etextbooks and digital courseware

Tags: Education Technology, Higher Education, Affordability, Press Release, Connect
1/2 of instructors agree digital tech in the classroom has improved students' grades

NEW YORK (April 6, 2022) – McGraw Hill today released survey results showing faculty and student opinions about digital course materials – the formats they use, how effective they feel the platforms are, and which distribution models they prefer. Included in the 2021 Digital Learning Materials Trend Report are results showing widespread awareness of and satisfaction with the new inclusive access model for distribution of materials to students.

As the use of technology has quickly expanded in schools and college courses during the pandemic, the survey results show that students highly value the time-saving features and mobile accessibility of ebooks and adaptive courseware like McGraw Hill Connect and other platforms. Faculty valued courseware for its integrations with institutions’ learning management systems (LMSs) and for its embedded adaptive technology.

The survey also revealed opinions about a model for distribution of digital course materials called “Inclusive Access,” which has expanded rapidly as colleges and universities look for ways to reduce costs for students. Inclusive Access (IA) is a course material affordability program, designed by institutions and guided by the U.S. Department of Education to deliver digital learning resources to students, at a significantly reduced cost, on or before the first day of class. According to the survey:

  • Student awareness of IA is high at 77% with 41% of all respondents saying they are currently taking a course that uses IA.
  • Students who have used IA like it. 67% say they prefer acquiring materials via IA, with the top benefits being convenience and first-day access
  • Instructors who use IA like it. 74% say they prefer to use IA. Like students, instructors say "convenience" of IA is its top benefit

Inclusive Access has saved college students using McGraw Hill products an estimated $500 million since 2018.

To learn more about the survey, visit:

"As the pandemic has shifted more student learning and studying online, use of digital course materials like ebooks and adaptive courseware platforms has taken off as well," said Michael Ryan, president of McGraw Hill’s Higher Education group. "Data from this survey is incredibly useful to us as we continue to focus on improving affordability, equity and outcomes for the learners we serve."

Other findings from the survey include:

  • When asked what considerations were most important when choosing a textbook to adopt for their courses, instructors by far chose “quality of content” as the top consideration, followed by affordability and features that support equity of outcomes and access.
  • When asked what they see as the most beneficial aspects of student use of etextbooks, instructors’ top answer was ease of use from anywhere, followed by their accessibility on mobile devices, easy search features and lower cost.

The 2021 Digital Learning Materials Trend Report survey was fielded in late 2021 by Hanover Research. The survey included responses from nearly 300 college students and instructors representing public and private, two- and four-year institutions and from all major academic disciplines.

McGraw Hill
McGraw Hill is a leading global education company that partners with millions of educators, learners and professionals around the world. Recognizing their diverse needs, we build trusted content, flexible tools and powerful digital platforms to help them achieve success on their own terms. Through our commitment to equity, accessibility and inclusion, we foster a culture of belonging that respects and reflects the diversity of the communities, learners and educators we serve. McGraw Hill has over 30 offices across North America, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South America, and makes its learning solutions for PreK-12, higher education, professionals and others available in more than 80 languages. Visit us at or find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or X.

Tyler Reed
McGraw Hill
(914) 512-4853