eTexts – an all or nothing solution?

As a visual/tactile person, I’ve personally struggled with the notion of going to all-electronic books for any sort of reading – pleasure or academic. However, I’m not 100% sure students are getting a $100 return on investment on the required text for the hybrid course I am teaching this semester.

What are your thoughts on print and electronic texts? If we require a text in print should we also offer it in electronic format? Should we select e-texts that don’t offer a print option? How do we help students make informed decisions about print and e-text selection (i.e. prevent a student from purchasing an e-text but them simply attempting to print the entire thing)? Do you have an all-or-nothing preference for print or e-text? Why or why not?

Check out OpenStax College’s website, their philosophy and the materials they have available for free online and low-cost in print:

OpenStax College provides your students with professional-quality textbooks that are free online and low-cost in print. Our books are peer-reviewed and backed by top-of-the-line supporting materials. And while our books meet standard scope and sequence requirements, they are also customizable by you if your needs are different.

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9 responses to “eTexts – an all or nothing solution?

  1. Saving money on textbooks is a great idea. We spend anywhere from $500 to $700 per semesters on books for college. On the otherhand, I am not a e-reader person. I would want the print version. Access to print or e-versions, based on the student’s preference. And, yes, I could see many getting the cost-saving e-version, only to print it in the Library or a Lab.

  2. I personally like physical books but I am approaching 60 years old and that is what I am used to. I do own laptops and a nook, which I have used to read off of. The nook is far superior to trying to read from a computer screen and is handy in many ways. I do believe, however, that more and more students will find electronic delivery the way to go, especially when it comes to cost.

    I personally like to “jot” things in margins and the like, and find it more cumbersome to do so, even though I can, with my nook or laptop. What I can do with my nook and laptop though is look up specific text in seconds, references, and the like, which of course I cannot do with my physical text.

    I did take the time to view OpenStax’s offerings and of course they do not apparently have texts for my curriculum.

    I think personally we should use texts that have both a physical and ebooks presence, insuring everyone can get the materials. If it was left to a “pick one”, I would have to go with the e-book because it is readily accessible to every student.

  3. In the CMWEB program, we have moved away from most textbooks and are using video tutorials. For example, many classes require a subscription to lynda.com. Not only is it cheaper (one subscription for all CMWEB classes instead of the cost of individual books), but students have access to well over 1,000 courses on many ancillary topics. Where we do still use textbooks, I tend to reference the printed copy as well as the eText version as much as possible and let students decide. I do also recommend a Safari books account to those students who can afford it. I have one and it gives me immediate access to the majority of textbooks I use in many courses.

    Best,
    Mark

  4. I’m not sure that all e-texts are cheaper. I have a kindle, and the difference between buying the hard copy or the kindle version is minimal. In other words, I doubt students will save much money.

    Then, we have the problem with the technology changes. How many of us have our dissertations on 5.5 floppies? So what do our students do with their e-books in 10 years from now when the technology changes? Will they not want to read them over again? Think about how often you go back to your paper copies?

    I also agree with Doug that our students will miss out the opportunity to write marginalia. In fact, many of my students need to do that to become stronger readers. Often, they’ll read a page and forget what they’ve read. By writing down notes or highlighting specific words, they find it easier to study for exams. We need to help our students to be able to be better readers/writers.

    I think I’m falling on the side of paper copies because, frankly, our students are looking to us for guidance on this issue.

  5. I don’t use a textbook for my class any more. I gave it up about three semesters ago, partly because of price and partly because they just weren’t current. I use Blackboard and link to articles and websites and supplement with my own materials. If I could find a good eText I would consider using it but just haven’t seen much out there — which is ironic since the course I teach is instructional technolgy.

    I do post my materials as pdfs so students with ereaders can load them on their devices. One of the issues for a while will still be the proprietary nature of ebooks. If the books are pdfs they can be read almost universally, but you lose some the highlighting and notetaking options that are available in the various readers if the pdf reader you are using doesn’t support that. The other issue I have right now with eTexts is that they don’t seem to be much cheaper so cost savings is not always a good argument. I do think that it is more environmentally friendly not print the text books, but that is different discussion.

  6. I admit to being a hard copy person. I don’t even have an e-reader because I love to hold the book. Also, as a visual person, I remember things better in a hard copy (i.e. lower left-hand side of the page about 2/3’s through the book). As an online and hybrid teacher, I’m open to working solely with e-books, but I have to wonder what the students prefer. Perhaps the hard copy text is their one anchor in an all virtual classroom!

  7. Students prefer not to read. 8)
    I think that’s why it’s good to help them. For the same reasons that we readers love paper books, we should encourage our students to read.

  8. I think we should offer the students both versions and it is something we probably should explore in radiography. We are very aware of the cost of text books so we only require five in our entire 24 month program. The problem that e-texts would solve is how heavy they are. Our anatomy and positioning text is a 3-volume set that is much larger than typical text books so the students are always complaining about having to bring one of them to class in addition to the others that they need.
    Other thoughts/questions: If we offer e-text we would probably have to offer low-cost e-readers to our students in the library as well. Do the e-readers synch to other devices such as I-Pads, personal computers, and I-phones? Is there a rent option to e-readers?

  9. I just got a Kindle! I downloaded a textbook and it does provide a quick answer to getting ahold of needed material quickly. It is easy to carry and very convenient for those odd moments in waiting rooms. Some of the online schools are offering e-books as part of the student’s tuition for the class. If ICC wants to be competitive, they may want to consider making that required textbook available as part of the class. It can be awkward for the student who ordered a book late and can’t do their homework because the book hasn’t arrived. (Although for my PSY110 class, I do direct them to access the free ditigal copies of chapters one and two through the publisher’s website.) I would say we need to offer students the choice.

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