Don't Stop the Presses - Yet

Glenn Ricketts

According to this survey from the National Association of College Stores, students prefer traditional print textbooks by a significant majority, and would not buy digitalized versions even if they were readily available and inexpensive. I'm not sure exactly what this signifies in the larger scheme of things, since students increasingly are deficient in reading proficiency irrespective of the particular medium involved. I can't help gloating just a bit though, since I've been so regularly assured that "technology" is the unstoppable wave of the future, and that I'd better get used to the fact that traditional textbooks are already obsolete. Full disclosure: I'm a skeptic about "technology." I haven't rejected the use of my computer, but I think enthusiasm tends to run way ahead of evidence where things such as online courses are concerned. I don't doubt that many in higher education, especially administrators fervently wish for that eventuality, and maybe it will come to pass. For me, however, that's a separate question from whether it will be able to deliver pedagogical dividends. Now if I see evidence that students begin to take to digitalized texts and their reading habits are likely to improve, I won't stand athwart the March of Progress. But for the moment, they're not interested in buying, much less reading the new gadgets.

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