Are E-Textbooks the Future?
Remember the first day of school, when textbooks were assigned? The pages forever creased by previous users, pencil marks that were never quite erased, these findings are a staple of youthful education in America. Yet, these next years could prove to be a challenge for the nostalgia of the traditional paper textbooks we all grew up with. Many schools and publishers are now preaching the values of E-Textbooks, but are these really what schools and students need? Keep reading for a look at the merits and shortcomings of E-Textbooks.
1. The most obvious advantage of E-Textbooks strolling down the electronic path is, the ease of portability. Traditional textbooks keep getting more cumbersome, as well as numerous. The average student in high school or college, carries an average of 5 books per day. Ballpark estimates for the weight of this amount of books can be between 20-40 pounds!
2.Besides being easier to travel with, E-Textbooks, they could potentially make life easier for those who are visually impaired. Many people require the use of large print, and E-Textbooks would allow them to scale the font to a size that is comfortable to them.
3. The latest edition of textbooks would be readily available to students- print updates can take years to produce and distribute- leaving some schools with out of date material.
4. E-Textbooks (generally) allow for students to pick information they will cite in a paper, and show them the correct format, based on what format the paper should be in (MLA, etc.).
Many of the conveniences currently offered by E-Textbooks refer to the ease of transportation, but a closer look shows the inconveniences of E-Textbooks might not be worth the risk for some time…
1.Health probably isn’t the first drawback to E-Textbooks that you might think of, but it is a very real issue for many people. Researchers have found that people who rely on any type of electronic device for reading in any extended time period, suffer from a condition known as “Computer Vision Syndrome“. This condition, though temporary, can cause the following: eye fatigue, headaches, neck pain, eye redness, vertigo, and eyes that have difficulty refocusing. There are many people that suffer from conditions such as epilepsy, where they should not look at any type of electronic screen for an extended period of time (generally 30 minutes), or there is the possibility of inducing seizure.
2. One of the biggest disadvantages of E-Textbooks, would be the inability to sell them back to a store, when a class or semester is completed. Although generally low when compared to what a traditional textbook was purchased for, for a college student, nearly any amount of money back is helpful. This would be a dead concept were E-Textbooks to ever take over academia.
3. One interesting disadvantage of E-Textbooks is the inability for the brain to perform what is known as “cognitive mapping“. In very basic terms, cognitive mapping is the brain’s ability to store and recall information based on a type of spatial reasoning. For example, if you are taking a test where you are asked a question about Alexander Hamilton, the paragraph of information you are trying to recall might be retrieved from your brain because you remember the picture (located next to said paragraph) of the famous Hamilton-Burr duel. This is a very simple example, but essentially, learning from an E-Textbook does not afford the brain the same ability to cognitively map information, as it does with traditional textbooks.
4. Though many E-Textbooks offer information on how to properly cite them in your written work, they do not have traditionally numbered pages, which can make cross referencing via a traditional textbook, a task nothing short of an odyssey.
They are not mainstream yet, but many tech and academic professionals see E-Textbooks as the future. In a world where paper resources are running low, and there is a desire to make learning as even a spectrum as possible, E-Textbooks are a tempting possibility when compared to the current status-quo. In discussing the pros and cons of this topic, maybe in the years to come we can find a way to make E-Textbooks as efficient as possible for all who want to learn.