“Reasons Why We Should Require Digitalization of College Textbooks”
In his essay “Colleges Should Mandate That All Textbooks Be Digitized,” Mark Pensky, software designer and author of Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom, takes the position that colleges should ban non-electronic books to improve teaching and learning. Some of the issues he speaks to are; what a bookless college would look like, moving education into the 21st century, addressing pushback of the social and cultural norms, creating enhancements to the educational system, the advantages of having an all digital campus, and the roles of teachers and college surrounding this subject of banning non-digital textbooks.
Early in the article Pensky states that, “A print text book ban will not discourage reading, nor diminish the value of the ideas within the books. In fact, e-books liberate ideas.” (2013) He is making the point that it is the content of the books that is important, the ideas, concepts and thoughts, and that the ability to access them in a new efficient way is most freeing. Several times he stats “I’m not advocating that we get rid of the good and valuable ideas, thoughts, or words in books – only that we transfer them to (and have students absorb them through) another form” (2013).
The article talks about the spread of digital books in South Korea, as a forerunner country who is integrating a fully digitized elementary level curriculum by 2015. He also points out that most undergrads use mostly digital forms of books and if needed they can scan into digital any physical book they need. Pensky speaks about how some colleges have already gone-digital in terms of how they deliver books to students via tablets and e-readers. He even suggests, “that it’s time to go much further to actually ban non-electronic books on campus” (2013). Pensky goes on to lay out plans for how this new bookless college would look and what we could expect both from educators as well as students. He suggests how colleges would still encourage reading although the method would change, and that paper books would be replaced, confiscated or transferred to digital formats. Professors would also need to transfer their libraries of books and notes into digital making them more available to students.
In regards to moving education into the 21st century, the author gives the reason that “it makes a bold statement about the importance of moving education into the future” (2013). Schools need to adopt the practice of keeping current with content, ideas, and values as well as the form in which the content is delivered. He continues to point out that many resources students use are already available digitally, and that this reason alone would be an incentive to create more content.
Pensky also highlights possible issues regarding pushback from teachers in various fields. He gives the example that science teachers would love the added benefit of...