Technology has taken the field of education to new heights. There are itexts, iPads and even audio texts available to students today. The digital age of e-books has dominated the book market. Academia it seems, has still not embraced these digital devices.
The start of every new school year brings piles of texts to schools and universities for students to consume for that school year. The reason there is still a one billion dollar industry in print textbooks is because there is still no true substitute for a printed textbook.
It is always a good idea to have a hard copy of a text book around for a variety of reasons:
* Technology can fail.
Students who use CD ROM versions of texts, internet texts or even e-readers are all subject to technology issues. A student needs access to the text all of the time. While a technology issue can be a small issue to worry about, it can truly make a text inaccessible. Computers crash, the power goes out, there is no internet access to load the text, the CD ROM won’t play. It really doesn’t matter what the reason if your test is the next day. You are not likely to get much sympathy for the inability to access the textbook.
* No ability to annotate or highlight.
This is the number one reason college students pass over e-books to real books. A college text is usually a haphazard mess of highlighting, sticky notes and pencil marks within days of classes starting. No computer, e-reader or even iPad has anything comparable for students to use. Students like to make notes and highlight their texts when they read. It is the way most students have learned to study. There is simply no substitute for paper here.
* It may be too distracting.
In a day and age of multi-tasking; having a computer open can be a real distraction. This applies equally to younger students and older students. A very young student (elementary) may have a hard time using a mouse or properly using the program. An older student might find it too tempting to stay away from a social network while reading. A printed text prevents this. A student can read from a text without any other outside distractions taking away from their studies.
* Technology can’t reproduce complex pictures and diagrams.
The biggest setbacks in math and science e-texts are their inability to show pictures and diagrams. An e-reader can only do black and white text. It does not yet have the ability to integrate pictures into the text as an actual printed text. The textbook not only has the pictures, but they are integrated into the text on each page. This allows students to study the pictures and diagrams while reading.
The printed text still provides the broadest study source for students young and old. It is always a good idea to embrace technology, but students should always accompany the technology text with a printed version as a back up. There may be a time when this is no longer necessary, but for now, there is still no substitute for the printed textbook.