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eBooks for students; using Kindle and other eReaders for classes

Updated on July 3, 2012
All of this could be in your eReader!
All of this could be in your eReader! | Source

My experience.

Last year, I received an awesome present, my Kindle Fire! Shortly after, I decided to try and get a few of my textbooks on it for the following semester. I had a mix, I purchased five eBooks for two of my classes and another two hard copy texts. For me, it worked out great. I hope this hub gives you an idea if switching to eTextbooks would lighten your load.

The Pros

  • Your backpack is so much lighter! Honestly, that is one of the main reasons I started to buy my textbooks for my eReader. A full course load means a broken back most of the time.
  • No more highlighters. You can digitally highlight.
  • No more defacing a book or writing an extra novel of notes in the margins. Check your eReader, but many eReaders allow for tidy note taking in the text. Simply click on the small note indicator, and you can see what was written.
  • Search function. Have a huge text and can't remember that particular quote you want to say? The professor brings up a point you don't remember? This is one area where I really got to shine. Use the search function for a particular phrase or chain of words and it will search the entire book! You can then go to the exact section.
  • Procrastinating! *cough* I mean rewards. Get done with all your reading? Now you have a whole personal library to browse through and read, if you ever get done that is.
  • Cloud software. If for whatever reason my Kindle was lost, stolen, or I just didn't have it at the time, I could use the cloud. What cloud does is enable you to access your books from multiple devices, so you could read your textbooks from your desktop, laptop, and smart phones.
  • Adjustable font sizes and backgrounds. For those with sensitive or particular eye sights, many eReaders allow for large or small fonts along with different color backgrounds and text.
  • Along with these benefits, a fellow hubber notes numerous other cool things to do with a Kindle.

Oh ha, ha. So you said the cons and have a picture of convicts, very punny.
Oh ha, ha. So you said the cons and have a picture of convicts, very punny. | Source

The Cons

  • No page numbers. This is the number one stumbling block in my opinion, more on how to combat this and other cons below. Depending on which classes you're taking, you may have to rely very heavily on citations, even in class. This can be very difficult with some ereaders.
  • Only one book can be open at a time. This may not be an issue all the time, but it can occur.
  • Wifi connection. This can also be an awesome pro, but it can be a nightmare during test time. If you have tech fearing professors, they may not allow you to use your eReader during tests where you could normally use a paper text.
  • Not all textbooks are offered in the form of eBooks. Sometimes there's no choice but to buy a hard copy, negating the use of your eReader.
  • Differing editions. The edition offered online may not be the latest edition required by the course.
  • You buy 'em, you keep 'em. Many students consider the cost of their texts along with their ability to resell them at the conclusion of the semester. Currently, there's no platform to do that with eBooks, not for money anyway. This can be a hit in the wallet.
  • Bad organization. Depending on the quality and standards of the publisher, your eText may have quite a bit of trouble with footnotes and images, which can often be integral to a course.
  • eReaders have batteries. It can be pretty inconvenient and embarrassing to have your book die on you in class.


Combating the cons

My experience may have been unique; my professors were awesome. While previously an older version of the Kindle was pretty much deemed in-salvageable for academics in one study, later versions have addressed some of the issues. However, many top colleges are giving out iPads to their students for their educational value, so I wouldn't cut out the next generation of technology just yet. What I can say is that it worked out well for me. How I got over the cons were as follows:

  • Page numbers: When writing papers, I would use a classmate's textbook after I collected all my quotes, or I would download an online PDF version of the text and reference that (Why not start off with the PDF and not get an eReader? The online versions are technically illegal, I already paid for it though! And they are functionally clunky without added software.) In some cases, for tests, one of my professors didn't mind if I didn't have page numbers because our articles will so short.
  • One book at a time was not much of an issue for me. When I did have to switch between texts, I just would!
  • My professor didn't mind that I had my Kindle for tests as long as my Internet connection was off. Often the test was so specialized there was no way to look for an answer online.
  • In the case where a text wasn't offered online, I had to buy the hard copy. Of course there are some illegal downloads...which I didn't!
  • It's often the case that new editions change very little substance of the text, so my professor allowed me to use an earlier edition of a text and there were no repercussions.
  • I love to keep all my textbooks! No problem for me if I can't sell them back.
  • The search function helps to eliminate both bad formatting and the loss of page numbers.
  • If you are conscientious of your battery life, you shouldn't have much of a problem with your eReader. They are more efficient than almost any phone.

What about you?

For me, the pros outweighed the cons. If I were to take more classes and given the option to buy eTexts again...I would. I personally like the idea of having that knowledge at my fingertips and almost permanently with me. For the average person, I would probably recommend that you purchase your primary texts as a hard copy from the bookstore, and your more supplementary texts on an eReader. Always check to see how much you could save online! I hope this hub has informed you.

How was your classroom experience with an eReader?

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    • Gulf Coast Sun profile image

      Gulf Coast Sun 5 years ago from Gulf of Mexico

      Great article. The pros and cons are so real for so many of us. I wish, when I was in college, many, many years ago, that we had this technology. So I'm now taking advantage of it. But I must say one thing, I still love the feel and smell of a good book. Thank you Kathleen