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IU Students Find It Difficult To Learn Using E-Textbooks

IU is trying to stay ahead of the curve by offering online textbooks, but some students are having a hard time making the switch from hard copies.

Last spring, IU began offering electronic-textbooks in some of its courses as a way to cut costs and make education materials more accessible to students. While the e-textbooks are less expensive than traditional textbooks, some students say the digital versions are harder to use.

IU senior Brittany Shrack says the layout of an e-textbook makes reading more time consuming.

“When I went through this whole process with the e-text it was just so much more difficult to focus,” Shrack says. “It was so much more time consuming, because you would have to print off your notes. Whereas when you had a textbook, it was more tangible, it was right in front of you, and then of course along with being online you get all those distractions as well.”

Nik Osborne is the head of IU’s e-text initiative. He says an e-textbook costs about 35 percent of the price of a hard copy book. And while some university programs limit how long students have access to the materials, that’s not the case at IU.

“In all of our deals, the student has access to the e-text for as long as they’re enrolled,” Osborne says. “So that means an e-text that you purchase through our initiative as freshman, you will have access to that as a senior. And if you went on to get your master’s degree, you would continue to have access to all of that.”

Osborne says as students and faculty spend more time with the e-textbooks, they will become easier to use.

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    The difference between an electronic book and a traditional one is similar to the difference between a word processor and a typewriter. There’s nothing wrong with typewriters, they just represent something along the way to something more capable and effective. Books are books.

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