So Long, Printed Word: Are E-books Making Their Way into Classrooms?

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Lauren Townsend>Junior>Journalism>Elon University

With technology frequently changing and becoming more and more accessible to everyone—particularly students—the question of whether E-textbooks will replace printed versions is a matter gaining traction at some universities.

At the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Charles Ginn, field service assistant professor with the psychology department, began to show an interest in E-textbooks with a study that involved 2,000 students in introductory psychology classes.

Based on the results, Ginn began implementing the Ohio Bookshelf Project with Stephen Acker, research director of OhioLINK’s eText Project. “We are working with publishers and faculty to provide options,” Ginn said. “For the first time professors have to think about cost when selecting textbooks.  Never before just now have professors really had to ask ‘How much is this going to cost my student?’”

The project offers students the choice betweeen E-textbooks and physical textbooks and allows them to purchase the E-book from the Ohio Bookshelf Project at 30 percent of the retail price.

University of Cincinnati senior psychology major Libby Cates said that while they may not be the best option for everyone, E-books are a great choice. “The E-text saves students from having to purchase the expensive physical textbook from the book stores. Many E-textbooks can also produce pre-made flash cards and study guides for students which in turn saves the student from having to produce their own study materials. From what I’ve heard, there are endless possibilities with the E-textbook,” she said.

While he agrees that there are many advantages to the E-book, doctoral student in clinical pediatric psychology at the University of Cincinnati Brian Olsen said that E-books can be difficult for some students. “You must have access to a computer in order to have access to the E-text. This being the case, many universities have computer labs that can be used by students. Nonetheless, students who do not have easy access to a computer may choose to have a regular text over the E-text,” he said.

Ginn has found that students are not buying physical textbooks because of their cost. “The concept of a required text is becoming an oxymoron,” he said. Instead of buying and reading the books, students are doing Google searches for key terms and hoping they’re going to get it right. One of the main goals of the Ohio Bookshelf Project is to make learning affordable to students.

“Although there are many advantages to using E-text, it seems that providing students with a choice of using either E-text or physical text is the preferred option for students right now. As technology and the popularity of E-texts increases, providing students with this choice may not be as important,” Olsen said.

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College Magazine Staff

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