Textbook costs have been in the headlines since the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) released its survey that found 65% of students said they did not purchase course materials because of the price. It also reported that 82% of students said they would do better in a class with free online access to course materials.
A professor at Temple University understands the angst, but is unmoved. Students of Meredith Broussard’s digital journalism class are asked to leave their electronic devices at home and bring the textbook, or at the very least a printout of the class assignment, because she’s found that digital-native students really have nothing more than a basic understanding on how to operate the gadgets.
“For a couple of semesters, I patiently endured students announcing their technical difficulties to the entire class,” Broussard wrote in an article for The New Republic. “After a while, I realized that I was spending an awful lot of class time doing tech support.”
Broussard admitted there’s a time and place for electronic devices in the classroom and she likes reading on her Kindle, but she’s come to the conclusion that the printed book is just easier to use. Legislative initiatives, like the one in Florida to switch to digital textbooks in public schools by 2015, make her nervous.
“E-books are not the best format for the way the American education system works right now, nor do they allow students equal opportunities for education,” she wrote. “When the myriad human-computer interface issues get ironed out, and when e-books are logistically better than print books, I’ll be happy to switch over. That day hasn’t arrived yet. Sometimes, innovation means sticking with what works.”