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Old 01-15-2009, 12:36 PM   #1
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e-Textbooks at Northwest Missouri State

According to a January 13 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Northwest Missouri State University conducted a pilot program last semester distributing Sony Readers loaded with McGraw Hill e-textbooks to about 240 students. After the novelty wore off, the students complained about the inability to highlight passages, to cut and paste text, and to participate in interactive quizzes. The university plans to continue the e-textbook experiment next semester but this time using laptops as e-readers.

“This is a tremendous attention getter; it’s not as good an attention holder,” said Mr. Hubbard [university president] of the Sony Reader. But Mr. Hubbard added that he thinks similar devices will be extremely popular in the long run, once their features have improved.
The online comments to the article offer more insight on the future acceptability of e-textbooks. Getting beyond the print vs screen debate, here’s a list of what might increase student use of e-textbooks: on-board dictionary, wireless interface, better PC software, ease of customer service and repair, lower price and a wide availability of titles.

Hampering acceptance: non-color displays, poor readability of diagram/photo laden material, no reliable archive of earlier e-text versions, concern over the continued support for file format, and the trend toward multi-function devices rather than dedicated devices.
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