Online or Hardback?

Readers with kids:  Do yours have “online textbooks” and what do you think of them if so?

Textbooks have grown much bigger and heavier since I was a little girl.  I’m not sure there’s any reason for that since surely the deposit of knowledge can’t increase that much in a generation but it’s nonetheless true.  I could carry all my books in my book satchel if need be; now kids can’t fit all their books in a giant backpack and they are getting back injuries before their teen years carting home all the books they need to do their homework.

So one of the selling points for online texts is that they do away with the need for bringing the book home from school.

There’s also the fact that THERE AREN’T ENOUGH BOOKS.  Yes, my child’s social studies teacher told us we had to use the online book to do homework because she doesn’t have enough books for each student to take one home.  This is a school on the side of town where problems like this are rumored not to exist.  (That they should exist on one side of town and not the other is another post for another day.)  Be that as it may, William does not have his own social studies book.

William has more homework in social studies than anything else, and so I am pretty familiar with that text by now.  You can do lots of cool interactive things with it that I am still figuring out, like access a less cluttered interface to make it easier to read, or have it read aloud to you.

Now he’s starting to come home with reading assignments requiring access to the online reading textbook.  A couple of weeks ago we managed just fine, but yesterday I’ll be darned if I could remember WHERE to access the textbook, or HOW to access it.  See, these things all have user names and passwords, pre-assigned, as does the “school fusion” webpage, and I am beyond being able to keep up with all of that.  I suspect the other kids keep up with these things themselves (I know they are supposed to, because when I ask about it the teachers all say the kids have been shown in class how to do these things), but William doesn’t remember things he doesn’t (to put it colorfully) give a crap about.  So all I get from him are blank stares.

March feels like too late in the school year to make resolutions.  So I hereby vow to figure out a way to organize all of this at the beginning of NEXT year.  

 I guess (I know) I’m just old fashioned.  I don’t own (or want to own) an e-reader.  I like to hold books in my hands, even textbooks.  I can’t help but feel flipping through an actual book to answer questions leads to more learning than hitting using the “Find” function or clicking on a hyperlink.  

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  1. Clisby says:

    My high school senior downloaded 4 of her textbooks in pdf format so she didn’t have to haul them home – she says it’s been a huge benefit. These aren’t true “online” textbooks, if I understand what you’re describing – it’s just a pdf of the print pages. My 12-year-old doesn’t have any online textbooks – but he’s in a Montessori school and history is the only subject where he has a textbook anyway.

    • lesliesholly says:

      The ones I’m talking about have the whole textbook online, pictures and all, with various interactive features. While I can see the benefits, with a child who cannot (or thinks he cannot) keep track of all the login information, it’s too complicated for me!

  2. Marta says:

    Hmm, my kids aren’t old enough for textbooks yet. Though man in highschool/college do I wish I had online textbooks because my books were SO HEAVY. My only concern with requiring online textbooks for children is that it requires that the parents have internet access. Which most people do, but I worry for the ones that don’t.

    • lesliesholly says:

      Good point, Marta. And even those who have internet access sometimes lose it (by not being able to pay a bill for example). Many families have only one computer and what if there is competition to use it? These are questions that need to be considered!

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