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The Milton Measure

Math Department Converts to eBooks in Place of Textbooks

by on Friday, October 21st, 2016

At the start of the year, I walked into Wigg Hall where the makeshift bookstore was set up. I went to the corner of the room and found the box with my name written on it, which contained my textbooks for the year. Knowing that an order I had made on Amazon would also come in soon, I took out half the books. I had three books in my box: one English book, one French novel, and a lab book. I went to the register and showed them my IA.

“A total of $153.”

The price took me by surprise. I walked out with my box of three books, confused. I got back to my dorm and pulled out the receipt to try to understand what was going on. Then, in the box, underneath my three books, I saw the culprit: a piece of paper with a code on it. My receipt read that I had paid $93 for that code, and that was sans tax.

This year, many students taking calculus and precalculus, amongst other math courses, probably experienced the same shock I did. For the first time, instead of buying heavy stacks of paper, we paid large sums for one piece of paper. The Math Department has decided to use ebooks instead of physical textbooks. Buying my ebook, I was filled with the same feeling of befuddlement as when I bought Math Excel, which was definitely not worth its price tag.

“I’d like them to give me back my math textbook” said Emma James (II) when I asked how she feels about the new ebooks. She lists the advantages of using real textbooks: the feeling of flipping pages, the weight of knowledge, and the ability to physically take notes. Backed up by many other students, Emma does have a point. Studies undeniably show that students learn better when they do hands-on work whether that be by taking notes instead of typing, flipping though pages instead of scrolling, or looking through the index instead of using command-f. Some Milton students have reacted negatively to the shift from physical textbooks to online ones.

Milton students often agree on controversial topics around campus: many think Flik could do better, that morning assemblies are a waste of time, and that honors biology is hell. on On the other hand, opinions on textbooks seems to be split right down the middle.

Andrew Song (II) says, “textbooks are so heavy to carry, and it is so difficult to copy pages if I ever need them.” He thinks ebooks are more effective for students who need to print out copied pages or share with other members of class.

Opinions about whether textbooks are better than ebooks also seem to depend on the subject of the textbook. Most Milton classes work without textbooks. The few subjects that require them are lower-level language courses, math classes, and science classes. The classes that actually use them, however, are limited to language classes and sometimes science. A lot of Milton students think that it is valuable to have ebook versions of language textbooks because they feel that having copied pages of vocabulary is easier to carry around and prep for tests with. Meanwhile, Science students generally think that keeping physical textbooks works better because taking notes is much easier.

So whatever you feel about textbooks, there is probably someone out there on our campus who agrees with you. But instead of complaining about whether textbooks are necessary or not, ask the people who bought them what they think. In other words, ask your parents whether they think the ebooks were worth their money.


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Posted by on Oct 21 2016. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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