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Description: Plans to supplement textbooks with digital content.


Date: Jan 4 , 2011

A Toronto District School Board Trustee discusses supplementing textbooks with digital content.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you think supplementing textbooks with digital content is a good pedagogical decision?
  • Who should bear the cost or recieve the cost savings as a result of this “supplementing textbooks with digital content” strategy?
  • Is this a strategy or trend that you would like to see happen in university eduction?

15 Responses to “Supplementing Textbooks with Digital Content”

  1. Bretton MacDonald

    The strategy of converting hardcopy textbooks to electronic books for university students is a great idea in my opinion. University costs such as tuition are expensive enough especially in the U.S.A so by using e-textbooks you could look at saving hundreds of dollars per year for each student. In my tenure as a university student I have purchased a few different e-books for my courses and every class that had this option the e book was substantially cheaper than the hardcopy book. Also I like the idea of the schools and textbook publishers working together and customizing the e-book to the course. This way the proffessor/teacher can customize it for his/hers class which can make it easier for student to comprehend the information. I personally have spent an average of around $600 per semester on textbooks alone and implementing e-books could potentially save me hundreds of dollars each year and even thousands of dollars throughout a four year degree.

  2. Russ Sommerfeldt

    Quite honestly I am an advocate of technological advancements and devices that improve productivity, but I do not think replacing textbooks with digital versions will bring about greater benefit. I will agree that it will make your backpacks lighter and maybe your wallet heavier, but unless one has a lot of self-mastery I believe less required reading would get done. I can only imagine if I had a textbook on my iPad. I would have the music playing in the background, I would get an ESPN push notification every time my team scored, and hours would go by and I would realize I still had reading to do. I like reading off pages made of paper. After awhile the screen of such a device starts to irritate my eyes. I am saying all of this, but most likely what will happen is in about 5 years bookstores will be going out of business, kind of like blockbusters current situation.

    I think that if the consumer chooses to go that route they should benefit from the savings. The paper, ink, and many other publishing costs would be non-existence that would allow for a cheaper book. The person buying the book already has to shell out for the device that can support the digital technology; I would hope they would be the ones saving.

    This is definitely not something that I will support, so I hope traditional textbooks continue for people who prefer a more tangible read.

  3. Tiffany Smith

    As an education student this is a topic I am exposed to often, and find very interesting. This idea is becoming more and more frequent and is building higher levels of acceptance. It seems that sooner or later this will be what happens both in grade schools and in post-secondary institutions. In the grade schools I believe the school board should take on the costs of such a project. With the projected savings it would not be unreasonable for each student to be supplied with some sort of resource to access these digital books. Clearly, the initial cost (for both the hardware and software) will be high, but it seems obvious that it will pay off in the end financially, logistically, and educationally. After the initial cost the marginal costs every year should be relatively low. These funds resulting from cut costs should be cycled back into the education system and begin moving towards the next technology that is more than likely going to be knocking at school doors by then. Education is meant to prepare students for the real world. Our real world pivots on technology and it seems logical that cutting edge technologies are also present in the school systems.

  4. Jenn Oloya

    Textbook going digital is a great Idea, I’ve already had a few textbooks that were digital and I can say that it was great. For a pedagogical decision I believe that it is a great idea it helps the school board save a lot of money and it would be easier to update textbook and information that rapidly change. For a student point of view having a digital textbook helps them save money and gives them a peace of mind so they don’t have to worry about the textbook being lost and they can never say that they forgot it at home. The textbooks that I’ve had online were cheaper than hard-copy textbooks for I believe that the students will receive and should receive the cost savings. I’ve already seen this trend at university but surprisingly it’s not moving as quickly as I thought I would. The first time I had an E textbook was my first year at post-secondary and that was 4yrs ago and since then had only 2 other books be offered electronically.

  5. Dustin

    I think this is the future of the hardcopy text for high schools and universities. I think it is great for saving costs as was mentioned in the video clip. Saving on paper would be a positive, aswell as the weight. The i-pad’s are not heavy and are easy to carry. They fit well anywhere, and would be easy to access to read anywhere? However, in my experience of the E-books that are now available, they are not user friendly. Hardcopy books are much easier to read and flip back and forth from page to page, versus waiting for the page to change on the screen. I personally found it frustrating. Aswell there would be more distractions for students. there would have to be some sort of lock that would not allow students to access other websites.
    The students and schools should recieve the savings from the digital switch. Some ideas would be to have more hands on expierances in the real world. More outside influence from companies or speakers at the schools. Also tuition fees and other cost could be lowered as a result from saving on textbooks.
    This trend would be perfect for some schools and classes, but not all. I Personally like the old school paper and pencil. But we have to realize the old way will change. So, for some particular classes it would be a good idea. As for most of the classes I think the old hard copies are the way to go.

  6. Jatinder Aulakh

    I think supplementing textbooks with digital content is a good pedagogical decision. This will save millions of dollars, because its easy to update digital books where as a textbook can not be updated easily, unless a new book is made. Using digital books instead of textbooks will make life easier for students, because they would not have to carry a heavy load in their bags. Also, having the digital book allows students to have access almost anywhere at anytime. Its portable when you are going on a long trip and you don’t need to take all your textbooks along.

    I believe students should receive the cost saying for the digital content, because students are the ones that pay high amount of money for tuition and books while in school.

    I would like to see university education using textbooks with digital content. I think this is better for universities because it allows them to save lots of money. Also, since many schools are promoting the fact that we should all become more environmentally friendly i think it would be a good idea to save paper by using digital books instead of textbooks.

  7. Landon

    I think supplementing textbooks with digital content is a good idea and think it should be an option for students. You will save paper by not having to print so many textbooks, and a huge benefit to this would be that textbooks would be easily up-dateable, instead of replacing paper texts every three years they can be updated every year or even every semester if done digitally. This would be great right now since some of the textbooks I am using right now for accounting are still referring to the old CICA handbook, but now the current CICA handbook follows IFRS, so we are learning outdated information. This makes it more difficult when we read the text saying one thing but later find out that the new handbook has gotten rid of that rule or changed it. Not to mention not having to pack a bunch of textbooks around all day, being able to replace all your textbooks with a single laptop sounds kinda nice.

    The school should bear the costs of the digital textbooks just as they do now with the paper versions, and charge the students accordingly since the school wouldn’t get the digital versions for free. The cost savings will be received by the schools since they will not have to pay a higher fee to buy paper texts, and the cost savings will trickle down to the students since we would no longer have to buy paper texts anymore either.

    I think the reading material going digital is itself a trend, just like you can get novels, and magazines in digital versions now, it was a matter of time before other reading materials went digital as well. The fact that textbooks are starting to go digital is the start of a trend for textbooks. I would like to see universities implement a strategy like this, offering textbooks in a digital form. Saving $50 million over 10 years, that is a lot of money the university could be saving and re-investing into school programs, but with all that I said how it is a good idea to supplement textbooks with digital content and how it would be a good option, I think I would still buy a paper textbook, just a personal preference.

  8. selenanova759

    I think it’s a great idea. Not just as a university student but I remember, a huge problem in secondary school is that the information was never up to date, and we could not get to it fast enough. To have curriculums stay the same for several years and then suddenly change within one grade level, is just a disadvantage to students who happened to be learning the material one year too early. So yes, I think at least one of the many benefits to digitalizing the information is currency, and next of course is accessibility. Not every school in the past has had access to so many publications, and if you take university education for example. our online databases provide us with so much more coverage of information, expanding our view.
    As far as cost is concerned, obviously everyone likes to gain from lower costs and in this case I think everybody gains (or at least I hope so). If the publishers of the digitalized textbooks are saving in production, shipment and retail costs, then we (students and school boards alike) should see those savings in our own pockets with a lower online price.

    in University I see this trend happening already. University students are getting unbearably tired of paying ridiculous prices for textbooks they use for 4 months and get nothing back from them because suddenly a new edition has been released. So much in fact that many are buying used texts and even older editions online for fractions of the new release which in most cases is only slightly modified and by now only slightly tricks some students into thinking they need it. Publishers cannot compete and we both suffer: they suffer in new sales, and we suffer from not having the most up to date information. if we embrace change then we can soon afford current information without biting the hand that feeds us. Some programs/classes I have seen offer their course material through applications on the Ipad. this is a start and is sure to increase and it will work out swimmingly once everyone is on board.

  9. Momah Moseri

    I love technology and the results it brings to our world. Technology provides a faster and easier way of doing things but I don’t think substituting textbooks for digital version is a good pedagogical decision idea. Yes it will save cost and it would be easier for anyone to have access to any book but having to go to your computer to study might not be the best thing. Computer is a major source of distraction, some people have the self strength to study on their computers but others don’t. Someone like me will not get any work done at all because when am on my computer I have to play a game of solitaire, listen to music and download new songs, check facebook and watch movies. I will not focus on what I want to study and that will have a bad effect on my grades. In my opinion, I rather have textbook because it would be easier for me to highlight important points and flip pages anytime I need it.

    However, change is a constant thing and I know that sooner or later, digital versions will pollute the market and textbooks will be gone. This will have an effect on the unemployment rate because some people will lose their jobs due to the fact that some printing companies will shut down.

  10. Taofikat Awopeju

    supplementing textbooks with digital content is a good pedagogical decision for the reason that students will stop carrying bulky books to school and i also think its way more cheaper for schools to go electronically with their text book because students tend to be able to read and access it anywhere they are.
    on the other other hand its not a good idea because taking me for instance i cannot seem to understand books on line due to the fact that i cannot sit and read from the screen for a long time and also there will be some main points i will like to highlight and come to later but with online text book you can do that but considering the prices on books students will like to go electronically. There are some students that has challenges reading on line so this wont be a good idea for them at all and i also think for fast learners its a good idea and for does that it takes time to understand what they read its not a good idea
    Hopefully when we get to the bridge we will surely cross it. going digital or not we will achieve want we want to achieve.

  11. Clayton Varjassy

    Having used ebooks for classes before I can say there are pros and cons for each. For one, it is nice to have a hard copy of a book that can be read page by page where you can easily look back or look things up quickly. This might not be as much of a factor on a device like an ipad but reading an ebook on my laptop was a bit of pain, especially when having to wait for pages to load. One big plus however was the “search” function. I know I’m probably not the only one that’s experienced this but fairly frequently something will cross my mind and I spend a few minutes looking it up whereas with the ebook all it took was the time I spent typing it in. That being said, it was definitely harder to sit down and read a chapter than it would have been owning a hard copy of the textbook. I think ultimately the option should be up to the student. If they want to save a bit of money going with an ebook than great, but a hard copy alternative should always be available for those that want one. Although, thinking about it, the cost of books for one year would pay for a nice laptop/e-reader device, and if the student had the option to print off a copy of the book, there may not be a need for a bookstore containing hard copy texts any longer.

  12. DC

    I think the idea of replacing textbooks with digital books is great. However, i have always thought people are still not ready for this idea just yet, maybe they can give it another 5 to 10 years for people to adjust and be more receptive to this idea. This idea will help reduce the burden of costs in books for students. Its also a great way to save the environment. Have you ever imagined how many trees it takes to make all the books that we use in schools, and these books go out of edition very 3 to 5 years. Its also good to look at the economic downturn that might be posed by this idea in the paper printing industries, whose revenues mainly comes from printing books for schools. It will lead to unemployment for many people when printing companies shut down, and it might also lead to human history documentation being lost if computers ever crush worldwide.

  13. Ifeoma Moseri

    It is a fantastic idea. One that will make life easier for students, publishers and lecturers. This will save students more as soft copy textbooks are way cheaper than hard copy textbooks. Convenience will also come into play as students can easily read their textbooks anywhere with phones, computers, kindle e.t.c.This will serve as good news to authors too who don’t need to pay to reprint updated books or correct mistakes. All authors or publishers need to do is change the content in the database and make it accessible. As a student i try as much as possible to go for eBooks as i find it very cheap and convenient. The man did say the books are updated every three years which I think works better than having hard copy books that don’t get updated that often. Most books I have read are not up to date and they could be very confusing especially when studying history. Another advantage of having digital textbooks is the accessibility. In buying soft copy books one doesn’t have to worry about not getting the book in the bookstore.
    This is a technology I will want to see happen in University education. As a student I believe having eBooks and the technology to read them from anywhere will go a long way in making life easy for me. Although most people feel very comfortable with the paper text I believe with time they will get to love the digital text. The world is slowly becoming technology driven and one can’t help but wonder where we are headed.

  14. Simar Kaur

    I think that this is going to be a good decions for the students they will have to carry less and this will help them better be organized. Going digital will be catering to the new generation and the way they are advancing. Having all textbooks available in one tablet would be a good way to get students to study anywhere they can.

    The school boards who are buying new textbooks to update the school library should be paying for the tablet online books instead. In university and collage the prices should become more reasonable if they are going to go digital. I have purchase 4 out of my 5 text books online and yet have no complains.

    I already see this trend and weather it is the price or the actual impression of having an online textbook I see many students choosing the online option. I feel like the students that have yet to purchase the online are those who do not yet have the comfort to use the computer. I would like the students to start using this option of the online so we can see this trend help the environment.

  15. prab22

    It’s an excellent idea to make textbooks go digital. Personally I like this idea because it would make things a whole lot easier. For example as a student this would be much more convenient so I don’t have to haul around a bunch of heavy text books all day. Also with it being digital it will be state of the art technology up to the date information, more organized, effective and efficient. It would be much more organized in jumping to which ever page you need to go, search for words and cheaper if these digital textbook companies can get the rights and maybe sell it by year subscriptions or memberships. Going digital will help the environment that will cut down on manufacturing costs and also polution and a whole of paper and trees saved. The idea of having these on your smart phones is great; you can read these texts on the run and where ever you go. I believe that this bound to happen pretty soon the way mobile technology is going. Most definitely I would jump on board with this idea of digital textbooks.

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