Improving the student learning experience through the student-led implementation of interactive features in an online open-access textbook




students as partners (SaP) in research, student perspectives, interactivity, online open-access textbook


This case study highlights the work of Students as Partners (SaP) as a balanced approach for implementing and evaluating an online open-access textbook in introductory animal physiology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Started in 2017 with an eCampus Ontario grant, the project involved undergraduate and graduate students developing and improving an open-access e-textbook to support student learning in a second-year undergraduate introductory animal physiology course. This case study focuses on the 2019–2020 academic term and the work of two undergraduate students working alongside faculty and two librarians. As part of their research, the partners consulted the literature and gathered feedback from students taking the course in which the open e-textbook was used. Student partners added updates and new interactive features to create a more engaging educational resource to support student learning. The partners also reflected on their role in the open educational resource development process.



Download data is not yet available.


Asunka, S. (2013). The viability of e-textbooks in developing countries: Ghanaian university students’ perceptions. Open Learning, 28(1), 36–50.

Bovill, C. (2013). Students and staff co-creating curricula – A new trend or an old idea we never got around to implementing? In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving student learning through research and scholarship: 20 years of ISL (pp. 96–108). The Oxford Centre for Staff and Educational Development, Oxford Brookes University

Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). (n.d.) UDL and assessment.

Cook‐Sather, A. (2009). From traditional accountability to shared responsibility: The benefits and challenges of student consultants gathering midcourse feedback in college classrooms. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(2), 231–241.

Dutkiewicz, A., Kolodziejczak, B., Leszczynski, P., Mokwa-Tarnowska, M., Topol, P., Kupczyk, B., & Siatkowski, I. (2018). Online interactivity—A shift towards e-textbook-based medical education. Studies in Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, 56(1), 177–192.

Evans, C., & Gibbons, N. J. (2006). The interactivity effect in multimedia learning. Computers & Education, 49(4), 1147–1160.

Grönlund, A., Wiklund, M., & Böö, R. (2018). No name, no game: Challenges to use of collaborative digital textbooks. Education and Information Technologies, 23(3), 1359–1375.–017–9669-z

Hardin, E. E., Eschman, B., Spengler, E. S., Grizzell, J. A., Moody, A. T., Ross-Sheehy, S., & Fry, K. M. (2019). What happens when trained graduate student instructors switch to an open textbook? A controlled study of the impact on student learning outcomes. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 18(1), 48–64.

Mills, M. S. (2016). Student preference of a customized, open-access multi-touch digital textbook in a graduate education course. Contemporary Educational Technology, 7(2), 123–137.

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., Courduff, J., Carter, K., & Bennet, D. (2013). Electronic versus traditional print textbooks: A comparison study on the influence of university students’ learning. Computers and Education, 63, 259–266.

Rowhani, S., & Sedig, K. (2005). E-books plus: Role of interactive visuals in exploration of mathematical information and e-learning. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 24(3), 273–298.

Saarinen, S., Heimonen, T., Turunen, M., Mikkila-Erdmann, M., Raisamo, R., Erdmann, N., Yrjanainen, S., & Keskinen, T. (2015). Identifying user interaction patterns in e-textbooks. Scientific World Journal, 2015, 1–12.

Story, M. F. (1998). Maximizing usability: The principles of universal design. Assistive Technology, 10, 4–12.

Swidan, O., & Naftaliev, E. (2019). The role of the design of interactive diagrams in teaching—Learning the indefinite integral concept. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 50(3), 464–485.

Teo, H.-H., Oh, L.-B., Liu, C., & Wei, K-K. (2003). An empirical study of the effects of interactivity on web user attitude. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 58(3), 281–305.–5819(03)00008–9

UNESCO. (2019). Open educational resources.

Wang, P.-Y., Vaughn, B. K., & Liu, M. (2011). The impact of animation interactivity on novices’ learning of introductory statistics. Computers & Education, 56(1), 300–311.

Weng, C., Otanga, S., Weng, A., & Cox, J. (2018). Effects of interactivity in e-textbooks on 7th graders science learning and cognitive load. Computers & Education, 120, 172–184.




How to Cite

Sharma, T., Lukose, R., Shiers-Hanley, J. E., Hinic-Frlog, S., & Laughton, S. (2021). Improving the student learning experience through the student-led implementation of interactive features in an online open-access textbook. International Journal for Students As Partners, 5(2), 67–77.



Case Studies