Wednesday, July 30, 2014

“To E or Not to E” That is the question when it comes to textbooks

Most degree programs provide students with the option of using an e-textbook instead of a traditional hard copy. This usually means scouring the Internet for the best deal. It also means figuring out what format works best for you. 

Innovative educators who are taking classes are making informed choices for themselves. However, whether they are in school or not they must ensure their students are college ready. This includes arming their students with knowledge on how to determine what format is best for them. 

Here are some considerations.

There are many advantages e-Textbooks provide over traditional hard copies.
  • Space    
    Will your students be in a dorm or small apartment? One of the benefits of e-textbooks is that they don’t require physical space. Paper textbooks are notorious for being heavy and bulky. With e-textbooks, students are no longer at the mercy of sheer muscle and backpack capacity. A mobile device can store all your material.
  • Search 
    Students spend considerable amounts of time combing through paper pages in order to find information. With an electronic version search functions make indexing quick and easy.
  • Efficient highlighting
    Students are able to highlight words or entire sections instantly without wasting time jotting down messy notes. Electronic citing is much quicker. With the push of a button, you can copy long quotations or excerpts directly to your research paper.
  • Listen on the go
    For students who like to learn on the go, many e-textbooks are easily converted into audio files. This saves even more time by letting you learn at the gym, at the grocery store, or while sitting in traffic.
  • Cost 
    Do your students have extra money to spend upfront? If not, e-textbooks are cheaper!
Traditional Textbooks
While there are many advantages, e-textbooks also have some limitations. Seeing what traditional books have to offer can help students weigh advantages and disadvantages so they can make an informed decision.
  • Accessibility   
    While many e-books can be downloaded and saved others are restricted to web viewing only. This means you have to be connected to the Internet in order to gain access to your reading content. Additionally, many of the books that can be downloaded, can only be saved onto one computer. Digital Rights Management technology often imposes copy protection, which prevents the sharing of files after purchase.
  • Losing work
    If your computer crashes, you may lose the information altogether, although if you lose your textbook (mine once fell in a lake) that is also a problem.  Advice: Only purchase e-books that live in the cloud too.
  • Expiration dates
    E-textbooks may feel more like renting than owning. This is because some publishers set expiration dates for online viewing.
  • Resale
    Once your course is finished, you do not have access to your material. This means unlike a book, you can not resell your hard copy.  Even though electronic books are commonly discounted, you save the same amount of money by simply reselling your hardcopy at the conclusion of the semester.
Whatever your students decide, it is important to inform them of pros and cons to best suit personal preferences. If they are uncomfortable relying on devices, or simply want to avoid ownership limitations, they may want to stick to traditional textbooks.

If they fancy an on-demand format that is small and convenient, then they will likely enjoy the advantages of e-textbook learning. If so, you can check out some of the great online retailers for deals and options

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