Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks all pass by, and still no sign of that final textbook.
Many students across campus rely on Slingshot deliveries for access to class materials, but this semester there have been more than a couple snafus with the system.
Stephen Richardson, account director at Slingshot, said since COVID-19 hit in spring 2020, there has been an increase in online schooling which has driven an increase in online textbooks.
“We saw a significant number of items go digital this year,” Richardson said.
This rise has led to issues with timely textbook distribution.
Some professors required textbooks to be in physical form, which led to numerous exchanges of digital copies for physical ones creating a problem with the distribution system.
This began to occur after professors distributed syllabi that prohibited in-class technology, causing a backup with the delivery system because of the influx of returns.
Richardson said roughly 20% of the books purchased were digital this semester, whereas in the past it had been closer to 5%.
Physical textbooks and other class materials take time to be ordered and delivered and sorted before being mailed out to students.
“There was at least one Slingshot order I remember delivering in late September, early October,” Connor Murray, dorm package deliverer for the bookstore, said.
Additionally, some students received the wrong textbooks which were supposed to be delivered to other students. This was most likely due to mail sorting errors and not Slingshot’s system, Richardson said.
Slingshot is taking steps and working with professors to better distribute the class materials for J-term and the spring semester.
“We’re adding a couple more communication points,” Richardson said. “Instead of waiting on profs, we’re reaching out to them and working with department chairs and getting to know when they want physical instead of digital.”
The 2023 school year marks the most students coming to Taylor after having had multiple years of digital learning in the classroom or online prior to college. This can be attributed to changes in the academic system post-COVID-19.
Richardson said, professors and students have experienced vastly different learning settings because of rapidly advancing technologies in education.
“The profs aren’t speaking the students’ native language,” Richardson said.
Most, if not all professors at Taylor, did not grow up in an educational system that relied heavily on digital content because of how recently this trend has occurred, Richardson said.
“We do see students gravitating to digital because of the price and the familiarity,” Richardson said. “It’s portable and has other features such as search text, notes and highlights.”
Transitioning to more digital materials in the classroom is a trend that will likely continue. Other schools in the area have a much higher percentage of their materials going digital, compared to Taylor. This indicates the phenomenon will not be slowing any time soon, Richardson said.
Despite new challenges that have arisen this semester, plans for improvement for J-term and the spring semester are already underway with actionable steps soon to follow.