E-textbooks provide another option
Writer: Leimaile Guerrero
Photographer: Joel Gaspar
The modern classroom is filled with technologies to help students learn in more innovative ways. For students, the most practical of these may be the expanding collection of e-textbooks. More cost effective, portable and compact, students are now able to access electronic versions of textbooks from anywhere with a mobile device, laptop, tablet, or computer.
Students that purchase a physical textbook have to pay the extra printing and shipping costs, making their books more expensive. Online versions are often cheaper, instantly available for download and hard to lose. Users are also able to download, copy, and print individual pages to save or study. Many of the physical textbook copies available in the University of Hawaii bookstores are also accompanied with an online version, allowing students to have both versions.
Pat Kamalani Hurley, who teaches English courses at Leeward Community College, utilizes e-textbooks for her online classes. She believes the online version to be more practical for her class “because the class meets online, it made sense to order an e-book.”
“It’s cheaper, like 40 percent less than the hard copy, it’s searchable, it’s easy to use, students can print whatever they want or not,” Hurley said. “It’s easy to purchase, online, direct from the publisher, it arrives immediately, and it eliminates the inconvenience and loss of money when students sell back books to the bookstore at the end of the semester.”
When purchased, students receive e-textbooks for an allotted time, usually a semester or sometimes longer. Once the time is up, the books are no longer available to students and evaporate into cyberspace. It’s another development at the bookstore. Students can now rent printed texts instead of purchasing them.
Although it may be love at first sight for tech savvy students, it’s not hard for others to get to know the new technology. E-textbooks are often easy to use once you get used to them. Students can easily navigate through chapters, zoom or highlight text and type in specific page numbers to find them quicker. Some e-texts also offer animated diagrams and automated narrations that make learning online easier and a slight edge to the printed versions.
“Students tell me they like the convenience of the e-book,” Hurley said.
Recently the UH bookstores have begun to offer a small selection of textbook rentals in print, and are looking into offering more e-text options. With technology on the rise, there will be cheaper alternatives to the traditional expense of printed textbooks. While some may prefer the printed text, the e-book provides more options and less strain on the wallet.
“The challenge of learning the latest in teaching technology has really helped my career and keeps me excited about teaching after all these years,” Hurley said. Although she plans to continue teaching online, Hurley does miss the face-to-face interaction and is considering adding a physical class sometime in the future.