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Education Technology News: Digital Textbooks: What's Taking So Long?
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Education Featured Article

April 16, 2012

Digital Textbooks: What's Taking So Long?

By Julie Griffin, Contributing Writer


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the advantages of digital text books over paper ones, yet students studying to be aerospace engineers are lugging hard backs across campus at many U.S. universities. Companies nationwide are working on ways to digitize all scholastic materials so students can work toward their degree without working toward back problems.


Tech historians identify early forms of e-reading to have occurred as early as 1971, but an education researcher from George Washington University  explained to Scientific American that research on the advantages of e-books over text books still needs to be conducted in order for digital sources to be conventional academia.

What’s taking them so long? Are they waiting for all the trees to be depleted from our forests? As collegiate educators postpone the incorporation of e-texts into academic mainstream, Pew Research reports that owners of e-readers read more than the general population.

There is a serious imbalance between education and technology. Two schools in Las Vegas and Massachusetts demonstrate a polarized application of iPads among elementary aged children. Students belonging to a progressive school in Las Vegas and students with special needs in Massachusetts have all found iPads to be helpful educational tools.

 But what about everybody in between? And what about college students?

Although progress has been slow, Apple (News - Alert) has been pioneering educational platforms and has launched iBooks 2 for iPads since last January. Scientific American also reports that McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are among publishers on board with the prospect of satiating the demand for e-text conversion. Principles of Biology is an example of an e-text created for a collegiate level course, and it is available on virtually every type of device from laptop to smartphone.

This digital text is smart enough to engage students in interactive learning activities, and also remains current by updating information on a continuing basis. So why are college students still required to write about social demographics from expensive hard-backed text books with old, and therefore useless information, when they can at least pull up the latest U.S. Census report on their iPhone for free?

Who knows? Perhaps the “text-book conspiracy” is not just a thing of campus urban legends.




Edited by Braden Becker


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