26 Sep 2009
September 26, 2009

Are Ebooks the Future of Textbooks?

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I’d like to thank Daryll and Shawn for hosting me here as part of my virtual tour to promote The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology. Leave a comment at the end of this post to enter to win a copy of the book.

Jennifer Roland

Are Ebooks the Future of Textbooks?

Jennifer Roland

There has been a lot of talk about the rising cost of textbooks and different methods of helping defray those costs for students.

In January 2009, Inside Higher Ed reported that many colleges, including Northeast Missouri State University, are looking at rental programs and increasing ebook usage on campus as a means of reducing costs.

And CALPIRG released a report this summer that recommended these types of programs as a means of keeping higher education open to students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

With the growth of ebooks this year alone, it seems that they will be the preferred format for textbooks in the near future. They offer great benefits not only in the potential for cost reduction, but also in form factor. I remember the constant sore back and shoulders that came from the ridiculous number of books I had to lug around in college.

In addition, ebooks offer the opportunity for more frequent updates and interactivity than is possible with printed textbooks.

There has been some concern over ownership issues, but lack of perpetual ownership is the norm for college. Typically, students have participated in an informal renting relationship, buying textbooks at the beginning of the term and selling them back after finals.

Ownership would be more of an issue in PK-12 settings, where schools own the textbooks and students borrow them for the academic term or year.

Before ebooks will be widely accepted in academia, however, some of the issues need to be worked out.

  1. Ownership needs to be delineated. When you purchase an ebook , do you own that copy? Do you get access to a cloud version?
  2. The format needs to be standardized. Currently, ebooks are available in a myriad of open and proprietary formats, and most are proprietary for a specific device or application.
  3. Printing needs to be enabled. Yes, the electronic format offers tremendous advantages over paper, but there are times when a printout can be very useful. For example, when writing a paper, it is handy to be able to print the page(s) you are quoting so that you can shuffle them around easily while still keeping the necessary citation info handy.

Where do you stand on ebooks?

Are you ready to ditch the heavy, expensive hardcover texts for a collection of 1s and 0s?

Do you think printed textbooks will always have a place in schools?

Or are you just waiting to see how it all shakes out before you make your decision between electronic and paper?

Answer one of these questions or ask a question of your own to be entered into the random drawing to win a copy of The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology.

About Jennifer Roland

Jennifer is a writer living in the Portland, Oregon, area. Before embarking on her freelance career, she was a staff member at ISTE. Follow Jennifer on her blog tour at http://edtechjen.com; each tour stop includes a chance to win a copy of The Best of L&L.

About The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology (link to http://www.iste.org/source/Orders/isteProductDetail.cfm?product_code=llbest)

ISTE’s flagship magazine, Learning & Leading with Technology, is where the organization’s members and industry experts share and discuss the latest and greatest in using technology to enhance education. This collection includes the very best articles from 2003-2008. Along with the articles as they originally appeared in the magazine, the book includes commentary and context introducing the articles as well as short essays from the original authors, who further discuss the issues and topics of their articles and how they’ve affected the ed tech world.

One Response to Are Ebooks the Future of Textbooks?
  1. Just a quick note. The state of Florida has received a $300,000 grant from the federal government to help create free textbooks. http://bit.ly/3WnEb6


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