Tag Archives: students

Print textbooks preferred over digital versions? Really?

Well. Surprise surprise. It seems today’s college students aren’t completely sold on everything digital. According to an article by Lisa Foderaro in today’s New York Times, many students still prefer print textbooks over the electronic version (In Digital Age).

According to the article, students cite a variety of reasons for preferring print textbooks — screens won’t go blank, no chance of a virus, and the plain old fact that academia is entrenched in print. So much for the hope that college students will quickly replace their print books with the new digital book readers.

 Betcha the chiropractors are smiling….they’ll still be needed to straighten out their backs bowed by those whopper bookbags.

Seriously, though, despite the belief that digital is taking over print, it appears that it may not be true when it comes to college textbooks. Despite the increasing costs, students are still reading print versions. One student said he didn’t want to switch to digital because he’d be too tempted to play around on social networking sites instead of studying. No doubt.

This makes me happy for a number of reasons. I don’t have to feel guilty about not really wanting to buy myself a digital book reader…not that I’m planning to return to school. I also don’t have to get rid of those textbooks that line the shelves in my office — a reminder of the hours I spent studying during graduate school. Besides, when I teach, I’d much rather tell my students to “get out your book” than “turn on your book”. There’s something just wrong about saying that.

Despite what Foderaro reports and what I hope is true, I have a sneaking suspicion that somewhere out there in northeastern Ohio is a certain PhD student reading this even as she is planning her Christmas list, at the top of which I suspect will be a digital book reader. Sigh. She’s laughing as she’s reading this. But remember, kiddo, print isn’t out yet. You better hang on to your book bag.

Fun is the essence of learning

A few days ago, I sent an e-mail to the students who will be in the feature writing course Fred and I are teaching during fall semester. This time around, we’ve added a photo component to the course — hence, Fred’s participation in teaching. It seemed wise to remind the students that they’ll need to have access to a camera.

With a few weeks until the start of class, I didn’t expect immediate responses to the e-mail; in fact, I apologized up front for interrupting their last few weeks of freedom. Of course, if they’re working, they may see a return to school as freedom.

Within just minutes, I received a response from one student thanking me for the heads-up. His only question was “will we have fun in this course?” Hmmmm. Had to ponder the best way to answer that question….was the point of the course to learn feature writing skills or was it to have fun? My mind backtracked to my days in college with Mary Ann Sullivan and Linda Suter, two of my English profs. Did we have fun?

It took just a few minutes to realize that of course, we’d had fun. That had been a crucial component to learning. Since I was an English major, the courses with the two of them were small — usually fewer than 10 students. Class sessions were filled with laughter, freedom to talk, discuss, argue — and learn. In grammar class, we stood at the board to write out sentences. We learned parts of speech, of the sentence, and mechanics of grammar. Okay, that sounds boring. But for us, it was fun.

Our lit courses were usually held in a small room where we sat around a table, chewing over the meaning of whatever we were reading. Over cans of pop, we argued, discussed and ultimately, we learned.

So…back to the question posed by the feature writing student. Yes, we’ll have fun. We’ll work, we’ll do a lot of writing and rewriting and more rewriting. We’ll take photos and learn to enhance the written word with the visual. We’ll learn the basics of Photoshop and its place in the world of journalism today.

We’ll laugh, we’ll argue, but most of all we’ll learn…all while having fun. Mary Ann and Linda didn’t spend all those days teaching me the importance of fun in learning without the hope that I would someday share that secret with others.