The Perils of Online Books

For years and years, there has been a standard for teaching and how it was done. Students would receive a book and teachers would teach from the book, varying each lesson with their own connections to the topic. Recently, however; schools throughout the county have begun taking a more progressive approach to use online books, but are there flaws within the system? Textbooks are practical and can be used anywhere, and from my personal experience, I have benefitted immensely from continuing to use my text book, while my peers choose to go online for theirs.

Aside from the ever-looming threat that websites or internet connections go down far more frequently than they seem to be up and running, going online can open up an entirely new world of distractions.  The way I see it, going online while trying to do your homework is the equivalent of opening up a bag of potato chips and trying to only eat one chip; it just doesn’t work.  Texting and having a cell phone already provides more than enough distraction for students, but with all of the social networking that takes place online, trying to access a book through the internet, should be considered the Holy Grail for distractions.

Let me put this into perspective. Imagine you are a high school kid and you’ve gone online to access your math textbook. You log in, which may or may not work, and then wait patiently for the page to load. Meanwhile, you log in to your Facebook or other social networking site, and before you know it, you are looking at your best friend’s winter album, leaving your online math book long-since loaded. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Some may say that teenagers need to exert more self-control and refrain from even logging into Facebook in the first place, and they would be right.  However, the principle issue at hand is that by providing students with online textbooks,  teenagers are being presented the opportunity to further put off their work.

Online textbooks pose another issue because they can’t be accessed from anywhere. This puts student- athletes at an extreme disadvantage because of the traveling that is necessary to participate in sports. As dedicated students, participants must make a conscious effort to prepare themselves before away games in order to have the materials they need to finish their homework on the road. The issue at hand though, is that while on the road, especially while in the dense mountains of Colorado,  WiFi is not reliable, and in most cases, unavailable while traveling, leaving students to finish their work much later in the night.

There are also economic implications to using online textbooks. In order to access the books, WiFi must be available, but the immediate costs for installation are extremely expensive, along with the added monthly charge.  In order for students to access their books they would have to travel all the way to library to get an internet connection, and ultimately would not get the entire result of their studying.

I, as well as many others, can appreciate the idea of moving into a more technological teaching approach, but all of these factors have to be considered before completely switching over to online curriculum, and even then I believe that there will be more problems. School boards and administrators walk a very thin line in the sense that while taking a progressive approach to learning; it might be at great cost to certain populations of students. We live in an online age, yet it seems that we have not yet completely mastered the ability to be efficient while surfing the web.