Books: rebooted

Do e-books change how we learn?

Ali Clark | Collegio Reporter

Apple sold 25 million iPads over the last two years. The Kindle Fire has already passed 5.5 million units sold. And last week Apple announced the launch of the iBooks2. Whether electronic readers will affect college education is no longer an issue. The question now is: when will it affect college education?
iPads and tablets are being brought into classrooms all over the U.S. and have come to Pittsburg State University.

Ebooks Photo Illustration/Sam Clausen

Ebooks Photo Illustration/Sam Clausen


Chris Huitt, professor in graphics and imaging technologies, taught Layout and Design last semester a little bit differently than he has in the past. Academic Affairs recently launched an iPad Pilot Project and decided Huitt would be the perfect candidate to test it. Twenty-four students in Huitt’s class received a new iPad on the first day of class. Students were allowed to use them for other classes and even allowed to use them for non-school purposes.
“The iPads weren’t issued for just the Layout and Design class,” Huitt said. “What they were issued for was so student would get the iPad and then use it in all of their classes, to see how well they could integrate using the iPad for university classes.”
Kelli Von Cannon says she used the iPad effectively in her English classes.
“I used it a lot for the literature class I was in because I liked to carry it around instead of those humongous books,” said Von Cannon, senior in English. “I find it easier to just Google the poems or books we’re supposed to read and just read it on there.”
Huitt spent the first few class periods training students to effectively operate their iPad and as the semester progressed, administered surveys to the students to see how the project was going.
According to Huitt’s research, 45.5 percent of the class said only one of their required textbooks were available in an e-book version, 22.7 percent of the class said two e-books were available and 22.7 percent said three were available.
“Not all textbooks are available as e-textbooks,” said Fawn Chesnutt, manager of the University Bookstore on campus. “Approximately 30 percent of the textbook titles we carry at the Gorilla Bookstore are available as an e-textbook.”
Chesnutt says that the publisher is the one who chooses whether the textbook is made available digitally. Chestnutt says even though e-textbooks are sold, on average, at 60 percent of the new textbook price, many college students don’t purchase e-textbooks. According to the National Association of College Stores, digital textbooks accounted for just 2.8 percent of the total textbook sales in 2010.
“The popularity of e-textbooks has increased over the past year,” Chestnutt said. “However, the majority of students still prefer the hard copy.”
Some students, like Sydney Ward, read e-books on a tablet but prefer a hard copy to a digital copy. Ward says she took an online class last spring and decided to buy an e-textbook for the class and used it on both her laptop and her Kindle. The hard copy of the book was sold for $75 while the e-book was only $33.
“The one thing I didn’t like about it was the teacher would reference certain page numbers that you can’t just scroll to,” said Ward, junior in communication. “E-books have locations, because you can make your text bigger or smaller based on what’s comfortable for you so I never knew what page (it was on).”
Kinsley Kerschen says she owns a Nook Color that her father bought her for school. Though the gift was intended partly for the use of e-textbooks, Kerschen says she hasn’t bought any yet. Kerschen says many of her classes don’t need a textbook and the classes that do have one don’t offer an e-book.
“When I get textbooks on there I will probably use it a lot more,” said Kerschen, freshman in interior design.
Although most students do not currently use e-textbooks, there is hope for wider usage in the future. Huitt says he plans to have a presentation about his Layout and Design class and the iPad Pilot Project sometime this semester. Apple also hopes to bring iBooks2 into the college environment if universities would accept it.
“I think that the things that I’m concerned with, like how things aren’t page numbered, and the diagrams, those will go away,” Ward said. “I’ve seen some of the children’s books that they have that are interactive that are on Kindle and iPad. They are phenomenal. It’ll read to you, it’ll highlight the words, the pictures move, and that would be awesome for college textbooks, especially for people who are more visual learners.”

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