Are we there yet?
About 6 months back i subscribed to an Educause listserv on etexts (ETEXTS@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU) — and I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of traffic on it. Clearly an indication that many universities and colleges were embarking on a project to address the availability of etextbooks and how best to integrate it into the curriculum. The one common element we can all agree on, is that text books are getting very expensive and very heavy! If i try and carry my sons (8th grade) school backpack, I clearly would have difficulty….plus i am sure to carry that amount of weight on a young back must have long lasting negative effects….and its not “cool” to carry a bag on wheels! Too much peer pressure. So just imagine, if all his science, math and art history text books (i wonder why all his English text books are paperback), were in e format on an iPad ($600) or even on a Netbook ($550), each of which weigh between a pound and three….plus all the paper that the environment would save….would not that be a win-win situation for everyone. I do feel, that the popularity of eTextBooks must happen in the K-12 system, which will force students to demand that ebooks be the primary source for when they enter college.
Here at UMass Boston we are about to embark on a program that will offer our faculty the opportunity to put content (hopefully eTextBooks) on an iPad and use it in their teaching and integrate it into their class. Some of the publishers are creating wonderful interactive eTextBooks, and apps like “inkling” will assist the eTextBook market to grow rapidly. I just pray that the students benefit by paying a lower price for the book and have a better experience with learning the content in it.
I think we are there!