Let me provide some real life examples from the university classroom.
At my university, we can put our course readers (i.e., articles, books chapters, etc.) online for our students and also have our university print shop create a physical version of the reader. The electronic version is always free. The printed version is not.
Whenever I ask students what they want, the results are not always clearly towards the digital versions. The results are mixed. My students have said the following:
1. It's very hard to read a digital version. I always end up printing it out because it's easier to read and mark up.
2. The printed versions are bulky. I only want to print out ones that I find necessary. [Note that these students still print out the digital versions, but only selective articles/pages.]
3. The printed versions are too expensive.
4. I prefer the digital version because I don't have to carry the course reader with me everywhere I go
5. The digital versions are cumbersome. I have too many pieces of paper flying everywhere.
6. I like the digital versions because it's free.
7. Even if you give us the digital version, we end up printing out everything which is more expensive than what the university printer charges for the reader.
I personally like to offer both digital and printed versions but I find that very difficult to justify because the university bookstore (which is actually an independent entity separate from the university) loses out if fewer people end up buying the printed versions than what I ordered. These course readers are not re-sellable. So, I only offer digital or printed, usually not both.
If everything were offered only digitally (read the qualifications carefully so one doesn't wildly project what I'm talking about) with the spirit of using digital readers for them, I find that problematic from the standpoint of a student. A student takes various courses at the same time and each course uses several books at the same time. A digital reader only displays one screen which usually means one page at a time. I can't imagine being an effective student and only having one page open at a time. Cumbersome, ineffective, impediment to learning.
This is not to condemn digital books. Rather, it's to say that the technology we currently have to interact with digital books is still rather ineffective and probably best not to adopt school-wide/university-wide until we seriously, SERIOUSLY, think about how students learn and how teachers teach instead of the other way around which is usually just goo-goo-ga-ga over a technology. So, instead of going from technology dictating how learning and teaching should occur (which is so often the case when technophiles and technologists think about how to apply technology to education) we should go from thinking how technology can BEST SERVE teaching and learning
Last edited by thibaulthalpern; 05-11-2009 at 04:17 PM.