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California May Ditch Textbooks and Go Digital

eBooks as Textbooks: What's Your Take?

If you haven't heard, California's economy is pretty much in the crapper. Billions of dollars in the red, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking to technology and digital solutions to save money. One way he thinks the state can cut costs is using digital forms of textbooks rather than investing in and assigning the standard paper bound book that we're all used to.

Although I like the idea for more than one reason (it's more eco-friendly than printing up millions of pages worth of text, and you wouldn't have to lug around your school books everywhere), it isn't quite coming together for me. Sure, digital text books would be amazing, but who's going to provide the eReaders? Will the State of California buddy up with Amazon to furnish a Kindle to every student, or will they just reside online? Additionally, what about those families that don't have computers? There's a lot of questions to be answered, but while the state is ironing out the details, what's your take on textbooks going digital?

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iblastoff iblastoff 6 years
wow, lots of backwards and outdated reasons as to why we *shouldn't* have electronic textbooks. first of all, unless you're still using some ancient CRT monitor, eye strain has LONG been a nonconsequence now ever since the switch to LCD screens years and years ago. secondly, how could reading from a textbook possibly be any easier than from an electronic document? you can change contrast and brightness, zoom in, bookmark, create electronic sidenotes, etc etc easily. too bright? turn it down. more comfortable with a different font? change it. those who have problems with this need to join this century. with the majority of kids in university thinking a laptop is mandatory these days, i highly doubt this electronic switchover will be as problematic as some of you seem to think. the possibility of technology breaking down is nonsense. there doesn't seem to be much of an uproar about kids having to type their papers electronically to hand in?
staple-salad staple-salad 6 years
Bad idea. Too much time in front of a screen is bad for your eyes. And school already requires a lot of computing (writing essays, online research, online classes, etc). What is saved in text books will be spent on eye glasses and ereaders. It's not that economical. Plus, most ebooks cost as much as the hard copies (my university had an article about the economics of it in our daily paper). The only thing you'd do is save trees, but ereaders take plastic and other non-renewable resources to create. It's a lose-lose situation. IMO. That and I HATE reading things on a screen. If I ever miss reading assignments, it's usually because my teacher was making us read them on screens and I had no money to print it out with (at my university, it's a rather annoying process to go to the library to print, and really expensive). Too much eyestrain, too bright, and harder to look up information. So much easier to just use the book and be able to scribble on it, and put in post-it notes and highlight, then physically turn the pages, instead of scrolling, missing the page, scrolling back, etc.
karen-zoo karen-zoo 6 years
I've always been skeptical about the ereader thing. I always thought highlighting by hand and having things set out in front of you .. things you can physically bookmark .. rearrange .. file away ... makes studying more effective. I don't know. Maybe they could trial it. Or as #10 says, being able to print sections would be a bonus. I agree with #11 though - this is probably what the future is going to look like.
JessaG JessaG 6 years
I am torn on this. I understand that this is the direct that we are heading, and I am all about change and advancing. But at the same time, there is something about actually books that I like. Besides, I like knowing that my text books can take whatever I throw at them, literally, and not have to worry about it breaking. It will be interesting to see if this progresses into a reality.
Chim Chim 6 years
I wanted to know why it took this long to do. Just like they give every child a book in which you have to return after school year is over, issue kindles the same way and make the child responsible for the cost if they do not have it at the end of the year. They do that with laptops at certain private schools, why can't they do that with kindles. I feel they should bring that up to the Collegiate level as well. Maybe now the cost of books wouldn't be so high because they don't have to physically make the books. every semester there is usually another version to the book making the one last semester or last year, virtually extinct. Kudos to Gov. S for using that brain of his.
blossommac blossommac 6 years
even i love tech , is really and advantage to read on the computer (if you have one) but is really painful for the eyes and a really prefer read in book, i cant take my computer everywhere os a book is more easy , only the weight problem. in my faculty we dont access to all the book because they have to import for usa or europe, so mostly teh time we have to make photocopy
macgirl macgirl 6 years
I think the Kindle allows you to do all the highlighting and notes- I believe I read last week that they integrated a web interface for you to have further access to the notations you make. I love this idea. In 5 years it will be hard to believe this wasn't the way it was always done. Change is hard and scary but I think this is the way education will go.
Phil Phil 6 years
Regarding eye strain from screen reading, a simple option is printing out sections specified by the instructor. You still won't have to carry around a heavy book, the costs are minimal as you can print at home or at school, and students can take notes and highlight as needed on a printed copy if they're more comfortable doing so. Another option would be to develop (assuming it does not already exist; I'm pretty sure it does) e-reader software that allows the function of highlighting and note taking on the device. Once again, it'll acclimate students to a world that is increasingly tech-centric. Regarding electronics maintenance, of course, schools would benefit from beefing up their IT departments. Faulty hardware could be remedied as simply as swapping the e-reader or laptop with another. The faulty hardware could then be repaired on campus. I imagine the program could cultivate concepts from university laptop loan programs.
Elfyn Elfyn 6 years
Actually mek123 and niicoley e-ink (kindle & sony readers) is very easy on the eyes (it looks just like paper) You can also enlarge the fonts. It is the backlit LCD (computer screens, iPods, etc.) that are hard on the eyes. You can see e-ink displays clearly in bright sunlight too. The only drawback you must use a light source to read in the dark. eBooks would be instantly editable which would be a boon for information that is constantly being changed or updated. They would save trees and student's aching backs. As an owner of both a Sony Reader and a Kindle I highly recommend them. I wish they'd been around when I was a student.
niicoley niicoley 6 years
I could go for this, even though it is a little far fetched. When I study, I enjoy the fact that I can have open multiple books at a time and not have to press a single button, I'm unsure of how easy that would be with a Kindle/E-reader or laptop :( But it would be nice to be able to go anywhere (with an internet connection, of course) and have the opportunity to do some research and not worry about hauling heavy books. Plus, mek123, makes a good point about e-reading not being easy on the eyes :/
telewyo telewyo 6 years
I would LOVE a Kindle now for reading books and newspapers, etc. but in college/high school I don't think I would have wanted my textbooks in that format unless there was a way to highlight and make notes in the margins (does the new Kindle let you do that?). I think a laptop with a full keyboard would be a better study tool than a Kindle.
c4rolin3 c4rolin3 6 years
for university i saved a ton of money using journals and being able to access ebooks rather than buy text books i'd use for one semester or buying novels which i was done with in a week. for this reason it's a good move forward. also e versions of books would be more widely available through everyone being able to access them with an 'athens' password and use of a university computer. when a essay question gets set on a course and a text book is recommended, or just when a book is mentioned for recommended reading, it's first come first served for the 5 books available for hundreds of students.
mek123 mek123 6 years
In theory it is a great idea but I don't think it would work in the real world until they work out the logistics of getting every student a Kindle/eREader or laptop. Also reading electronically is not easy on the eyes.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 6 years
I'm a strong believer that this is the future of k-12 public education. There is a huge push for the 21st century classroom with students using Web 2.0 technologies to increase interconnection not only within their own classrooms and schools but to other schools and students as well. Right now, some textbook publishers are realizing this and making their texts available online with a teacher distributed username and password. So far, my students *love* this way more than having to lug around their traditional textbook. Plus, there are more interactive activities that allow them to explore concepts further to deepen their understanding. I hope California can find a way to do this to show other states that it is possible on a limited education budget.
Phil Phil 6 years
There are socioeconomic concerns, but I think it's a great idea regardless. Hopefully the savings of new textbook purchases could go toward subsidizing e-readers, or even laptops, to loan to students during the school year. A possibility could be to ultilize the services of organizations like One Laptop Per Child (laptop.org), which seeks to provide affordable laptops--the XO Laptop (currently ~US$200)--to needy children all over the world. It will be a relief on the backs of the students, and it will modernize the information presented in textbooks, making specific information easily searchable, it would also help acclimate students to the technologies that will surely be of great aid to them all throughout life. And, of course, the environmental impact is significant, stopping the production of scores of thick tomes. Of course, there are scores more factors at play, but from my own narrow perspective the initiative, intelligently utilized, would likely do more good than otherwise.
bethinabox bethinabox 6 years
It's a good idea in theory, but probably wouldn't play out very well for any number of reasons. Like you mentioned, would they give out e-readers or be online? If they were online, the people without computers have to spend ages in the library, and then there are just those people who can't sit and read a textbook off a screen. Sounds nice, but I don't think it's so great.
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