Saturday, December 13, 2008
It has surprised me for a while now that schools, most specifically high schools and colleges, haven't led the way in the ebook revolution. Then yesterday my godson, Tommy, called to ask for good places to download classics, Hamlet and a few others, for his spring semester at a private high school. I was delighted to hear he and his classmates are welcome to use ebooks in lieu of a specific edition of these classic texts, and that he has a few teachers who have sought out text books available in the format.
It always seemed logical to me that high schools and colleges would want to jump in with both feet on this technology. Even disregarding the cost-- which would be substantial, the convenience and health benefits are huge. Rather than carting around a book bag that weighs more than most of the cheerleading squad, students could pack a light sack with a Sony E-Reader or an Amazon Kindle, some pens and pencils, and a notebook or-- better still, a netbook mini computer. Under five pounds and everything necessary for a full day of classes. Makes perfect sense to me.
Not only that, but students could purchase a reader for under $300 as incoming classmen, use it for high school, college, and grad school, and download many books for free. Certainly text book publishers would be smart to give bulk discounts. Imagine starting school in September or January, logging on to the high school home page, and downloading all your texts for the year. They don't tear, wear, get dropped in puddles, or have a place to ink "Bongo loves Daisy" with a big heart around it. How often, during debates and stump speeches, have we heard politicians bemoan the out-dated text books in struggling school systems?
Why hasn't this happened yet? Long ago many colleges required incoming students to own laptops and provided discounted models. Some even included the new computer in the tuition. And net-books, mini pc's, really evolved out of the "one laptop per child" movement that sought to provide small, scaled down, child-sized computers for kids.
I'd love to see this idea spread. It would be great for schools, great for ebook publishing, great for young people with straining spines and groaning pockets. And I'd love to hear from readers. What about you? Does your school district encourage the technology? Do you love or hate the idea?