Recently I have been asked to guest lecture a few times for a Slavic Lit class next fall (*squeal*) and a few months ago the professor and I sat down with the first draft of the syllabus and, most importantly, the book list. This was the first time that I saw how much thought and effort professors put into these lists. She was very concerned about cost and we both rejoiced at the inexpensiveness ($40) for the main text of the class!
When I wanted to add another title (the text only had Gogol's The Overcoat and what would a Slavic lit class be without The Nose?), I found a free eBook copy offered through the library and I am excited to see how this is going to work in the classroom setting! I'm wondering how the eBook format will impact the students and how many of the students will bring in hard copies of the book or their computer.
So, with that in mind, I noticed an pairing of articles in the ALA bulletin that interested me exceedingly: the Textbook Rant from Seth Godin's blog and "6 Lessons One Campus Learned about E-Textbooks."
What I found intriguing in these articles, especially when taken together, was the conviction that once the "eTextbook" revolution begins, it will take everything by storm! Both Young and Godin write with a (correct) tone of inevitability.
I was surprised, however, at the disparaging tone of Young's take on this university's attempt to make the big switch, often critiquing the president of the university for being overly excited and eager about these changes. This was a pilot program, there were some hitches, but, if it proved anything, it showed that it can be done!
Often times we need something like this university's experiment to guide us in the right direction and using these mediums (personally I stand behind the specifically designed book readers) is a big step in that direction. That is why I applaud Godin's blog post, for its energy in that vein.
The technology is getting there, but not quite yet.
As more people, students from an increasingly varied economic background and students who do not remember a time before the computer revolution, every attempt must be made to get the information to them cheaper and in a format that would be the most beneficial.
This is something that librarians have been talking about a lot lately, and I have a few other articles about this issue to review in the next few days.
Once the technology catches up and becomes more affordable, universities are going to be jumping for eTextbooks; however, it is the people who are taking those steps now that are doing the academic world a good service! Thanks!
PS: I'm sorry, I completely respect Godin, but he is severely underestimating the amount of work professors have when he suggests that they write their own material and publish .pdfs for the class - yikes!