Online Learning and E-Textbooks

Online Learning and E-Textbooks

One form of electronic learning is now being employed by both distance learning and traditional courses alike: the e-textbook. Electronic textbooks, which can be downloaded onto smartphones, tablets and personal computers, are shaking up the market for textbooks, a market that’s been established for centuries. In fact, before he died in 2011, Steve Jobs reportedly considered e-textbooks as one of the areas he most wanted Apple to get involved in.

Many college students routinely use e-textbooks today instead of traditional paper textbooks, as the electronic versions offer a number of advantages. First, in some – but by no means all – cases e-textbooks are cheaper. They allow professors to alter the information according to the structure of a particular course. In addition, as new scientific and historical discoveries are made, e-textbooks can be updated in real time. Therefore, students never have to feel like they’re poring over out-of-date text. Moreover, students don’t have to wait in long lines to buy e-books, or worry about spilling coffee on them. And they make backpacks a lot lighter, which is no small thing when you consider the epidemic of back pain in today’s society.

Publishers also like e-textbooks because they greatly cut down on publishing costs. Plus, when students buy used textbooks from other students, publishers lose out on the income they would’ve made had those students bought new ones from a bookstore. By contrast, there’s no way for a student to resell an e-textbook – not yet, anyway.   

Print textbooks are still much more prevalent than e-textbooks on college campuses, however. For one thing, with a traditional book you don’t have to worry about power outages or faulty Internet connections. And many students simply find them easier to read and notate. However, part of that attitude may simply be due to the fact that today’s college students grew up on paper textbooks. Today’s elementary students, on the other hand, are routinely being introduced to e-textbooks at earlier ages, and thus when they enter college they may find using e-books to be second nature. Indeed, e-textbooks are only going to get more attractive in coming years as they add new features like practice exams and live discussions between students.

And for those students who now will have trouble deciding between these two kinds of textbooks, note that some traditional textbooks come with free electronic versions of the text so students may alternate between the formats.

Online learning market place

Apr 27, 2012