Digital content delivery is changing education. This transformation in higher education, now accelerated by the pandemic, has created a huge demand for the printed book’s digital counterpart. As a company hyper-focused on driving student success through the use of digital course materials, we typically focus on the classroom measurements: accessibility, student engagement, graduation rates, and costs of their materials…just to name a few. But hidden behind those key performance measurements, we can find an unexpected, or oft-unnoticed, win that extends beyond learning and into wellness.
About 85 percent of American university students report backpack-related pain and discomfort, says a Boston University study. The study co-author, Dr. Karen Jacobs, a former president of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and a board-certified professional ergonomist, suggests the findings may point to an emerging trend between pain and discomfort and time spent carrying backpacks.
The research is just one of a series of examples we’ve heard over the years on how students are carrying ridiculous amounts of course materials and other supplements on their shoulders for hours on end. In general, doctors say your daily backpack should carry no more than 10-15 percent of your body weight.
So what does this mean for the average college and university student? You figure most colleges will require between 120-150 academic hours of curriculum depending on the degree. Most classes will have 1-2 books per class—and most classes are 3 hours of credit each. If you take 40-50 classes and are likely required to purchase 1-2 books per class, not counting research papers (which are likely not whole books but bits and pieces of books and e-articles) you are looking at about 40-100 textbooks per student in their college years alone. With a single textbook, weighing up to six pounds on average, we can quickly see the true, physical weight on education.
And while posture wasn’t the primary driver for RedShelf, our school partners are joining us to make a stand-up difference. Just in this past year alone, RedShelf and our partners delivered more than 1 million (weightless!) titles to students. That equates to more than 6 million pounds of textbooks kept out of bags and backpacks.
Now THAT is a weight off of everyone’s shoulders.