Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Don't close the paper mills yet - more problems with E-textbooks

Following up on our story from a few days ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting on more problems integrating E-textbooks into the undergraduate curriculum. 

Last year [Northwest Missouri State University] tech-happy president, Dean L. Hubbard, bought a Kindle, Amazon's e-book reading device, and liked it so much that he wanted to give every incoming student one. . . . Students who got the machines quickly asked for their printed books back because it was so awkward to navigate inside the e-books.

The CHE lists 6 lessons learned from universities that have experimented with e-books.  In particular, here's one that might have an analogue among law school courses:

Subjects are not equally e-friendly. Kevin Green, a junior, loved the e-book required in his business-marketing class this spring. "But if it was an accounting course," he said, "I would kind of want a printed textbook because it's got all the numbers" and equations that would be harder to manage electronically.

His instructor, Michael J. Wilson, an associate professor of accounting, economics, and finance, said the one problem they had with the e-book in the marketing course was when students needed to refer to a dense table of numbers in the back. He demonstrated for me, noting a pop-up window with a font that was almost illegible. "You can kind of expand them, but it's not as easy as it could be."

At least laptops can display color. E-reading devices handle only black and white. That's a major handicap for science or medical books that rely on illustrations.

Read the rest of the article here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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