Digital textbooks elicit mixed reactions by students, faculty

By Kevin Durso
February 7, 2012

We see it every day. We use it every day. Technology is everywhere, from the machines we use to complete homework assignments to the gadgets in our hands that allow us to communicate within an instant.

Two of these recent innovations to the technology world are the iPad and Kindle, both of which have expanded their digital bookstores to include interactive textbooks. Apple announced iBooks 2, which features digital and interactive textbooks, in January.

That brought forth the question: are physical textbooks dying?

“It’s a situation in our society that people commonly refer to as the ‘Death of Book Culture,’” Dr. Seth Frechie, chair of the English department, said. “We’ve seen this for years with the advent of digital technologies.”

Frechie said that the closings of major book stores, such as Borders, as well as the rise in popularity of digital music and books has left people with reduced access to hard books.

That has faculty thinking about what classes would be like without the use of hard textbooks in a totally digital world. With the way students possess devices of this new technology age, you would think most students would embrace such a possibility.

Michelle Goff, sophomore English major, said that she wouldn’t embrace the decision because she is against digital books. Goff went on to say that she has become accustomed to using them anyway and that a recent classroom discussion on the topic led to arguments against digital books, with students saying they actually preferred hard textbooks.

“We were shocked to discover that among our majors, there is considerable resistance to this idea,” Frechie said. “It began as our faculty thinking how can we keep pace with this new, emerging, younger and more technologically-literate population of students that we’re working with today.”

The administration at Cabrini is also taking into consideration that there are many conditions to look at before making any move toward a digital transition. It is likely that some upperclassmen at Cabrini wouldn’t get to experience a digital classroom experience.

“In our academic plan, the faculty and I are working on the role of technology,” Dr. Anne Skleder, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said. “We’re all on a trajectory to figure out what we should be doing in the future.”

While this issue has the possibility to be implemented, nothing has been put into action just yet. All faculty and administration still have a great deal of consideration to do.

“Cabrini College is profoundly aware of both the challenges and opportunities that advances in technology pose for the teaching and learning process and we are addressing this in a forthright yet thoughtful manner,” Dr. Marie Angelella George, President of Cabrini College, said in a statement via email. “Dr. Skleder, the college’s provost, is an educator who has the experience and commitment for using technology to advance learning, and along with the faculty, is leading the way to ensure that instructional technology is integral to our academic planning.”

In his State of The Union Address on Tuesday, Jan. 24, President Obama spoke in detail about the cost of education, something that Cabrini is taking into consideration when exploring technology in the classroom.

“We believe as a department that this would ultimately result in a significant financial savings for our students,” Frechie said. “That’s clearly something we’ve got to explore.”

While there is no active development in going digital, in a way, Cabrini has already started a transition of sorts. Skleder said that an online e-portfolio is in development, and with tools like Blackboard Vista and CabriniOne available to students currently, a paperless transition has indeed started to take shape.

“We really have to think about the big picture of how we can use technology to do that [eliminate paper],” Skleder said. “I think it’s an exciting time in higher education and technology.”

Frechie also said that there are reasons to move forward with technology for the good of the environment, but warns that the constant change in technology could cause a problem.

“Technology is changing so quickly,” Frechie said. “There’s a part of me that fears that we would commit to a program like this and in the long run not be able to sustain it on the basis of the technology becoming outdated.”

Students use iPads to rent textbooks at the Villanova Bookstore on August 30, 2010. (credit: MCT)

1 thought on “Digital textbooks elicit mixed reactions by students, faculty”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Kevin Durso

1 thought on “Digital textbooks elicit mixed reactions by students, faculty”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap