Friday, March 25, 2011

More evidence that legal educators shouldn't abandon p-textbooks in favor of e-textbooks

Despite the omnipresence of electronic media, paper is proving to be quite resilient. Some have called the traditional paper-based book an example of a technology that defies improvement.  What's interesting is that the preference for paper and books can't be explained by generational differences. Instead, they seem to possess characteristics that makes the medium objectively better suited to certain reading tasks than a screen. Click here to read about what those characteristics might be.

Several student opinion surveys bear this out. This most recent survey of undergrads, as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, found that the ability to print the contents of an e-textbook is an important consideration to students in choosing between formats:

California State University is running one of the nation’s largest pilot studies of e-textbooks, involving thousands of students on five campuses, and one of the biggest findings so far boils down to the cliché the devil is in the details. Whether or not students liked their digital textbooks depended on what rules publishers set on how the digital books could be used.

. . . .

'Every publisher has a little bit different terms and conditions,' said Gerard L. Hanley, senior director of academic technology services at California State University’s office of the chancellor. Such rules, including whether a student can print the whole book or only a portion of it, or whether the text can be downloaded to a computer or only accessed online, 'really impact the students’ ability to use the content,' he added.

. . . .

Among the 662 students who answered a survey [about using e-textbooks] after the fall term ended, about one-third said they were satisfied with the experience, one-third said they were neutral, and one-third said they were dissatisfied, officials said.

You can read the rest here.


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