Digitalness

September 18, 2009

So far, school has taught me several things. One of which, librarians make up words. Case in point is “aboutness” which essentially means subject matter. My mom says “why can’t they just say subject matter”, but apparently they can’t. Now its my turn to make up a word. My word is “digitalness”. I don’t know if I am the first to use this word. Probably not. I don’t tend to be the first to do anything even though I am a first born.

But seriously, the industry is going digital. I’ve been reading lately about a private school library that has gotten rid of all their print books (or is planning on it). Who would have thought? Not me. For me, there is something necessary about a book on paper. I like the way that they feel and smell. I find them easier to navigate and read. Call me old fashioned, surely you cannot call me old. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I believe you will find several posts in the near future on this topic. Today I wanted to discuss something more specific.

When did textbooks and required reading become so computerized?

I know that I am a distance education student and that all of my coursework is done over a computer. I did not expect that most of my required reading would be too. I was perfectly happy to order my textbooks from the bookstore like a normal student. Imagine my surprise to notice on my syllabus that over half of my required reading is not from my textbook, but online articles (such as this) or scanned in materials from distant sources.

We have to admire the ingenuity of the professors. They must have to search an awful lot of things to find those articles.

I find it very inconvenient to have my reading on my computer. This is for several reasons:

One- I read in many various places
I read on my lunch break at work, in the waiting room at the doctor’s, in the car when someone else is driving, and in those spare moments between tasks. Many times, computer access is simply impossible. I suppose a netbook could handle the task, but I do not have one, and do not have the funds for such an expense.

Two- It would take a lot of paper to print out those articles
Sometimes I like to take notes on my reading. Can’t do that with online articles. There is no highlighting, underlining, or dog earring.

Three- I find articles online more difficult to read
I get distracted by other applications on my computer, like Facebook or my email. These distractions do not aid in remembering material. With print material, I can move myself away from the distractions and place myself in a place with much less. Besides that, the computer screen itself is different than paper to the eyes. After staring at the screen for a time, my eyes become fuzzy and hard to focus.

I will add that, for the most part, the content of the articles chosen for my classes has been a good supplement to the textbook. It has been informative.

If I have to read it, I’m glad that its well chosen. Props to the Profs.

What do you think? Online required course reading? Or no?

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