How to get students to read the (e)Book

Student reading an ebook on a computer
Reading Time: 2 minutes

We all struggle with the challenge of getting students to read the ebook, so here’s a suggestion: place engaging activities into the ebook so that students have to go into the book to access them.

Our ebooks allow you to place such activities right into the spot in the book where they tie directly into the content. Here’s an example.

Insert Surprises Into Your eBook

Here’s a little tool (not related to Cengage) that you might want to try. If you haven’t heard of ThingLink then you really should check it out. This tool allows you to easily place tags into images or video. Video can even contain pauses where you can insert additional content of your own. These tags and pauses can lead to additional images, videos or even surveys. You can place many kinds of interesting media behind tags which pop up when students click on the tags.

To get students more involved while watching a video, place a poll or a survey right into the video.

An Example for Your eBook

For this example, we’ll use the idea that women and men sometimes perceive aggression differently. Men often focus on aggressive acts that can be seen like hitting someone (called ‘overt aggression”) while women are attuned to less overt aggressive actions like two people arguing (“relational aggression”). Professors Meredith Kneavel, Joshua Fetterman, and Ian Sharp use a video of an altercation between Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig to make this point in an engaging and effective way.

I re-created their class activity using ThingLink. Students watch the brief cartoon and then are asked questions along the way.

In-Class and Online Versions:

Here’s the activity that can be used in class (it contains poll questions using PollEverwhere). After you click play, look at the video timeline to see small bullets that indicate when the video will pause. You can fast forward to these bullets.


And here’s a version that you can use for an online class (the same poll questions, but this time created with Google Forms):


Everyone loves fun surprises – use this to your advantage to get students to read their ebook. If you’re successful, students will even begin talking about your “Easter eggs” and tell other students about them.

Embed Activities Right Into Students’ eBooks!

This brief video shows you how you can embed activities – like this Thinglink video – right into the flow of your students’ ebooks. In the video below, I am looking at the exact spot in the ebook where I want the video to appear to students. First, right click and copy this link to your clipboard: Bugs Bunny and Aggression. Then follow the instructions in the video. (note: no audio)

– Michael Britt