E-textbooks an option for students

There has been a recent push in Ohio colleges, including Sinclair Community College to promote e-textbooks over traditional textbooks. On Jan. 21, there was an e-textbook workshop that covered issues such as information about e-textbooks, the State of Ohio Digital Bookshelf initiative and an e-textbook exploratory pilot project.

“What can I tell you about e-books except that they are really cool? I think the key thing about the e-textbooks is that it’s your textbook and that you can annotate it depending on the software that you are using and the device that you are using,” ssaid Greg Deye, manager of Learning Technology Parent Support.

A large advantage of having an e-textbook is the affordability of these books compared to regular textbooks, according to Deye. He said that an e-textbook can save you 40 to 60 percent off of the price of a regular textbook.

According to Deye, students who are struggling with being able to afford textbooks should at least consider e-textbooks whether or not they are comfortable using them. He said that the ideal candidate for e-textbooks is someone who enjoys learning or reading online.

“Because of the cost, the big advantage may be that you may be able to take classes that you weren’t able to take because now you have the money to do so. Instead of spending $150 or $200 for a hard cover textbook, you get the same textbook for $60 or $80. Especially at someplace like Sinclair, you may be able to afford the tuition that you need for the next class because of the money that you saved,” Deye said.

Deye said that one advantage of having e-textbooks on one device instead of carrying around several heavy books. He said, “Certainly if you don’t like lugging around 30, 40 or 50 pounds of textbooks and you think you can get them loaded on a netbook computer or some other reader device, you might want to try an e-text book.”

According to Deye, e-textbooks would be a great fit for distance learning students who are going to be online for their classes. He adds that e-textbooks can help students learn in a better way as long as the student is comfortable learning online.  He said that some students learn easier through e-texts because it makes it easier for them to take and access their notes.

“There maybe be multimedia in the textbook such as video and audio and animations built into the textbook. And there are some that are pretty much a copy of whatever is on the paper version, what’s online. But even with the paper version that is online , you have the ability to highlight, annotate and put notes on the page. Whenever you access that page, you can access those notes at all time,” Deye said.

A disadvantage for many people is that most e-textbooks can only be used for the quarter or semester and you can’t keep a copy of it, according to Deye. “So you have to make a decision, you have to think, is this something that I’m going to keep and hang on to or is this something that I’m going to sell back anyway? If it’s something that I’m going to sell back at the bookstore than why not get the e-text version if I like learning that way and then save all that money upfront because you’re not going to get that money back when you sell your textbook,” he said.

Deye believes that there are more advantages than disadvantages to using e-books but said,“You have to make that decision, what’s right for you in this particular textbook and what’s right for you and your learning style.”

To purchase an e-textbook, Deye said to tell the employees at the bookstore that you would prefer the e-version and then you would obtain a code to access a webpage. He said that students must pay extra for a version such as a PDF. Students can now rent a laptop from the bookstore and have your textbooks downloading onto the laptop for them.

“The only thing I would say ultimately is that the e-textbook is certainly an option that I think everyone should look at but think about whether or not it meets your learning style. A lot of times we will put money in the forefront but if you are not able to learn from it then maybe that money saved isn’t really worth it. Keep the learning in front and follow it up with the money if at all possible,” he concludes.

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