The pros of online textbooks


I remember when teachers used to pass out textbooks and tell their wide-eyed students to cover them. Thirteen or so years later, students must not have gained any responsibility, respect or regard for loaned property because as college students, on top of thousands of dollars for tuition, they are forced to pay hundreds for textbooks.

But, I digress…
Textbooks are heavy, expensive and quickly outdated, to state the obvious. Other than textbooks, college students, mainly English majors, have to purchase stacks of novels and novellas. This gets pricy — and disorganized.

A solution has appeared in recent years — the innovative e-book. With e-readers like the Kindle and Nook, bookworms can store all of their stories in one spot. The device is light-weight, compact, and E-books are less expensive than hard copies. The problem with E-readers is though they offer electronic versions of textbooks, they do not have all titles due to contract agreements with publishers. This means students who wish to purchase an e-textbook that is not available on an E-reader, they must view it online via a computer screen or tablet.

Tablets and some laptops are great to bring to class when discussing material. My archaic laptop will never be dragged into a classroom to do so and I simply cannot justify buying a tablet for books. It seems as though I am hating on e-books, but I actually think the idea is progressive and helpful.

First, for Apple users, iPhones read PDF files, so books are always on hand.

Second, it is insanely tedious to copy an exact phrase for a quotation into a word document. When using an e-book, simply copy, paste, add quotation marks, attribute, voila: simplicity.
According to Gizmodo.org E-books also can be significantly cheaper than hardcopies. The are abou half as cheap as hardcover book. Sometimes, if you look hard enough, you can find free e-books online.

With the advent of e-books comes the publishers’ institution of online activities and lessons.
Professors can assign homework through a portal, which requires a login, similar to Desire 2 Learn, but the pass code for the product can come with a steep price tag.

As expensive as these services are, I find them especially helpful for problem solving. When you get a question incorrect, a pop-up window shows where you went wrong. There are tabs that display example problems and hints to solve them.

Online homework is interactive and the next-best-thing to having an instructor right next to you. Some students will always prefer a hard copy of a textbook for different reasons. I think e-books and online classrooms are a sign of the times; a progressive move toward saving paper and immortalizing texts.


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