Thursday, September 6, 2012

Students Eye Print vs. Electronic Textbooks

One of my library school professors told us that experiments were underway in classrooms across the country to see how students take to textbooks in electronic form. Last week, New York's Daily News newspaper reported that kids in American universities still prefer traditional textbooks over the electronic versions.

Students in Clearwater, Florida, take out their school-issued e-readers.
Image via http://goodereader.com

According to the Daily News, "some students" stated their preference for print textbooks. Their reasons? The electronic versions are "clumsy" and "difficult to use." I have to say I sincerely doubt that today's college students, who've come of age in the digital age, would have trouble navigating their way around a handheld electronic gadget. Perhaps e-textbooks can be "difficult to read" on certain types of electronic devices, as some students claimed in the Daily News piece. But I think most would welcome the opportunity to not have to lug around a bag full of heavy textbooks. I really think it all comes down to the influence that textbook publishers have on school systems and if individual schools have the money and in-house expertise that would allow for entire groups of students to be equipped with the technology to access textbooks in electronic form.

As much as I love books in print, digital is the way of the future. And if today's college students are already used to absorbing information via a compact electronic gadget, perhaps e-textbooks are the way to go.

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