Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students test iPads for class

There are a lot of reasons to hate textbooks. They’re heavy, dense and they definitely do not read like a novel. Many college students would say the main reason to dislike textbooks is that they are expensive.

But for students with iPads, two of their textbook stresses can be put to rest. E-books for iPads are cheaper and exist only on a one and a half pound, nine by seven inch piece of technology.

Last semester, students in economics classes were presented with a new offer. Inkling, the creator of an iPad textbook app, presented students with an iPad and free textbook for the whole semester with one requirement: to use the e-book version of the textbook and report back to Inkling on their experiences.

D.J. Jackson, one of the students in professor Harol Elder’s class, had several positive comments to make about the features included in Inkling’s presentation of his textbook – “The Micro Economy Today,” by Bradley R. Schiller.

“There are a lot of cool features. You can follow the professor as he makes notes through the book, like Twitter,” Jackson said. “You can also highlight and make notes in your textbook.”

Jackson said you can also sync your textbook to another student’s book, and swap notes. This feature comes in handy if you miss class one day, or miss any information the professor mentions during class. By being able to swap notes made on pages of your e-book, classmates can form a network that provides different students’ insight.

Elder, who teaches economics and whose class was part of Inkling’s experiment, says e-books have a lot of potential to continue to improve.

“It’s still pretty not well developed,” Elder said. “It’s still early in the process.”

Elder has been using electronic versions for his textbooks for years and foresees more development in e-books. He wants to see the electronic aspect play even more of a role in the textbook – for the textbook to not only be about the reading but enriched with video and audio content and more interaction with others.

Students, he said, could also take exams on the tablet instead of using pen and paper, allowing for enhanced feedback from the professor.

John Voltz, another student in Inkling’s pilot participation group, enjoyed not having to carry around another heavy textbook in his backpack. He said, however, that once you purchase an e-book, you can’t resell it. He doesn’t suggest buying an iPad just for the e-book feature.

Freshman Brittani Talbert likes the tangible experience of owning a book, although she does own a Barnes & Noble Nook. She reads some books simply for fun with her Nook e-reader, but doesn’t plan to read textbooks on her Nook.

“Books are, for me, to enjoy and come back to,” Talbert said. “I won’t feel like reading a textbook if it’s not in my hand. And what if my Nook crashes?”

“We’re not at the point where it makes sense to go out and buy the iPad just for the textbooks,” Elder said. “But it is convenient if you already have one, if you got an iPad for Christmas. E-books are cheaper than new copies, but about the same price as a used copy.”

Elder also points out that there are not a lot of textbooks available through an electronic format yet. However, he is hopeful that the technology will continue to develop. Elder can envision campus in four or five years, where inside every student’s backpack there is not a load of heavy books, but instead simply a sleek e-reader device.

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