Freshman Findings: In a battle between old and new, technology no longer triumphs

As times are changing, students may now learn through online courses, and professors now have the opportunity to post assignments, grades and notifications on websites similar to Canvas. In the debate between tradition and technology, the latter seems to be winning the race. However, in the battle between real textbooks and online textbooks, perhaps tradition packs a stronger punch.
If anyone out there is like me, then they like to hold a book in their hands. With my textbooks, I can highlight sentences and scribble in the margins. I can still read for class, even if my iPad is dead. I have the option to freely travel around campus and read without the fear of a screen going black because of a dead battery. If a tablet took a tumble, until a new one is bought and that information can be saved, all e-textbooks would be lost. That would be an interesting story to tell a professor.
Some people claim that buying a virtual textbook saves money. I would say that it depends on what a person defines as getting his or her money’s worth. I can attest that there isn’t a large price gap between a textbook that I could hold in my hands or read on my iPad. Prices, of course, may vary by book. My textbook for my sociology class, titled Experience Sociology, cost me $67.98 from Amazon. Now, the price of the Kindle edition is $64.58. I know I should appreciate the value of a dollar, but when I’m prepared to dish out so much money for a book, does $3.40 makes that huge of a difference? If it’s difficult for someone to afford the $68 book. I can’t imagine it would be significantly easier to afford the $65 one.
Also, has anyone ever tried selling back an online textbook? When it comes to selling, a physical textbook is a better option for saving money. When I’m finished with my sociology textbook, I can sell it to the bookstore or back to Amazon. I may not be given all that I paid for it, but at least I can make some money. It’s nearly impossible to sell an e-book, only to share or exchange it with someone who owns the same type of tablet. If I end this semester despising sociology or any other subject, at least I can sell or hand off my textbooks. That virtual textbook becomes a waste of storage and may never be glanced at again.
Now, this doesn’t mean that e-textbooks are the bane of our existence. They offer a great way to go green, can never run out of room and even save our page after we have finished reading. However, they’re too reliant on technology that can break, they’re not always cost-effective and they can’t be sold or even passed on to a friend. With the stresses of class, homesickness and maintaining a meager social life, I just don’t need any extra hassle from an online textbook. In a face-off between tradition and technology, this is a time where I can only see tradition as a winner.
-Samantha Sawh
Freshman journalism major
Printed in the 9/18/13 edition.

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