Since the CHS history department chose to shift the AP U.S. History textbooks from print to digital last school year, student response has ranged from complete satisfaction to strong opposition.
Marc Stafford, one of the AP teachers, explains that the digital system was implemented due to the changing curriculum, and new textbook was more reflective of higher-level thinking.
“The old textbook was not a great representation of the kind of college textbook you will read in your first or second year of college,” Stafford says.
AP U.S. History teacher Aubrey Powers adds that the department was shooting for an updated format which would endure several years without much wear and tear.
Advocates praise the light weight, the easy access and the ability to mark up the book without having to purchase a personal edition of the textbook. Emerson Hardy, for example, prefers the online textbook.
“It is less cumbersome and students don’t need to bend their necks,” Hardy remarks.
Other students appreciate the lack of necessity for tabletop work which allows them to study from their bedrooms.
In addition to sparking positive feedback, the new textbooks have triggered significant criticism. Maddie Parker claims that the online textbook is more inconvenient and that organizing notes and highlights is quite difficult.
Leonardo Gonzalez-Smith has mixed feelings about the textbook.
“I do like all the points of synthesis it makes, but staring at a computer screen makes my eyes burn,” he observes.
The digital textbook idea was partially justified by the fact that each student now possesses a Chromebook. Although each student has been issued a private computer, many students, as well as teachers, prefer physically reading from a paper version, and several students have chosen to check out one of the limited hard copies.
Both Stafford and Powers themselves prefer reading and taking notes from a traditional textbook, but they believe their generation could potentially make them biased, so they decided to tailor the textbook selection for the younger generation.
“A lot of students reported using course notes anyway, so we thought kids were already reading most of their stuff online,” Stafford says.
Using digital textbooks was just another way to embrace the digital generation, and many students agree that the new note-taking process is much quicker than taking notes from a traditional textbook. Though both teachers support the digital shift, they recognize the need for improvement in graphic and note-taking functionalities.
Will the printed textbook outlive the online version, or has the hard copy become history? Only time will tell.