Where Only Print Is Permitted

Meredith Broussard doesn’t allow e-books in her digital journalism class:

I really do believe that print is the ideal interface for a classroom. I used to allow e-readers in class. For a couple of semesters, I patiently endured students announcing their technical difficulties to the entire class: “Wait, I’m out of juice, I have to find a plug.” “What page is that on? My Kindle has different pages, so I can’t find the passage we’re talking about.” “Professor, do you have an iPad charging cord I could use?” After a while, I realized that I was spending an awful lot of class time doing tech support. The 2-minute interruptions were starting to add up. E-readers were a disruptive technology in the classroom—and not in a good way.

I went back to print. I required all the students to buy the same edition of the book.

Now, when I say, “Please look at the passage on page 45,” everybody opens the book to page 45 and looks at the passage and we have a conversation without getting bogged down in technical glitches.

I know that today’s students are supposed to be digital natives, but in my experience, most students are only good at using basic end-user technology. It’s possible that students don’t know how to use e-readers in class because they don’t use e-books: According to the 2012 Pew Internet & American Life Library Services Study, only 25 percent of Americans 16-29 read at least one e-book in the past year. By contrast, 100 percent of college students know how to use a book. So, in my classes, we use computers for the things that computers are good for, and we use books for the things that books are good for.

Previous Dish on e-books here, here, and here.