Electronic textbooks are a commonality among college students, but a recent rise in student usage has caused a stir throughout the teaching and publishing community.
E-books have been something familiar to this generation of college students. Rather than carrying five textbooks or more around in book bags, students simply pack their e-reader device full of all the reading material they need for class and are on their way.
Dr. Alan Smith, a religion professor at Florida Southern College, is an avid fan of e-books, encouraging students to take the leap into the virtual world.
“This is the way [this] generation learns,” Smith said. “[They] don’t read books – especially textbooks… It’s not part of the way [they] have been raised. [They] learn through the computer and electronic transmission.”
As a generation that was raised with computers in the home, present college students are found to be extremely educated on the usage of electronics, especially electronic readers, according to “The Chronicle of Higher Education.”
In the article published by “The Chronicle,” students praise e-textbook devices for their money-saving capabilities, making them a number-one choice among book-buying students. Students also have an easier time finding material that has been recently updated, according to another piece on “The Chronicle” website referencing e-textbook options.
William Allen, the online media professor at FSC, enjoys using the e-book version for the up-to-date information.
“When I was choosing the course material…the textbook options are extremely limited,” Allen said. “We are looking at a social media movement that has not allowed the textbook industry to be on the fringe of that. They are a little behind, especially since everything is changing so rapidly.”
Allen seemed to prefer the usage of an e-book in his PR Strategies course that he is teaching this spring.
“With an e-book, you can publish content quicker than you can with a traditional publishing market,” Allen said.
He stresses using the built-in links to the e-books to find further information on a subject.
Along with all the benefits of e-reader technology in the classroom, there is still a lot of push from professors who disagree with the movement, according to an online chatroom at “The Chronicle.” Professors from across the country shared their views on how technology in the classroom can be hindering for students as well as publishers.
A user titled 11123967 posted on Feb. 11 about the use of digital quizzes through the e-textbooks, saying, “These quizzes ignore [most] cognitive levels.”
Another user posted, “we no longer need publishers.” Some also brought up points of inability to note take on e-devices as well as potential costs of devices.
While there are cons, students seem to be taking the good with the bad, according to a poll on e-textbook usage at several colleges in the U.S.
According to the survey, students praised the e-books for helping them save money but didn’t like reading on the devices. Many students complained that the e-book platform was hard to navigate.
In addition, professors surveyed said that they did not use the e-books’ collaborative features, such as note sharing or link creating within the text.
Of course, depending on platform, students can choose their medium of reading on electronic devices. Most e-textbooks can be read on iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and even smartphones, according to Amazon.com, allowing the student to find the mode of reading electronically that is easiest for them.
“Most people still have the feeling that they need to use a hard copy textbook,” Allen said, “and that’s just not the case in today’s world.”
(Photo by Maggie Ross)