American campuses heading for the digital age

  At the time, Mr. Mark Twain predicted that the traditional textbook would disappear completely. This was considered rhetoric at the time. But now it seems that his prediction is gradually becoming a reality.
  Jason Togion is a senior at Northeastern University. When he first enrolled, the school required him to pay $160 for a new physics textbook. He felt it was not worth it, so he shared his textbooks and study materials with others online, and it cost him only $35 for books for all his courses that semester, and $500 if the textbook list price . In January 2005, Togion founded a website called “Textbook Reform Net”, which provides free electronic textbooks for all grades of the university, which has been warmly welcomed by students.
  Publishers increase the burden of traditional textbooks
  In the United States, more and more students are reluctant to pay for textbooks and turn to the Internet. This is partly due to the increasing cost of textbooks, and partly due to the proliferation of websites offering textbooks.
  The increase in textbook costs was mainly due to publishers’ speculation. When computers entered the classroom, some savvy publishers made some video materials, data materials and interactive teaching into CD-ROMs and bundled them with books, so that the price of textbooks naturally rose.
  According to the statistics of the American Association of College Bookstores, thousands of traditional textbooks are published in the United States every year, and the textbook turnover was as high as 6.5 billion US dollars in the 2004-2005 academic year alone. According to a study by the U.S. government, from 1986 to 2004, the average price of textbooks in American colleges increased by 186%.
  At present, the average cost of textbooks for each American student is as high as $900 a year. Textbook fees may be even higher for students taking courses such as history, which are already more expensive than regular textbooks.
  A website that provides textbooks emerges as the times require
  The move to reduce the cost of printed textbooks is certainly commendable, but some innovative publishers, university teachers and students are not satisfied with this. They are trying to use digital methods to completely eliminate books and improve learning efficiency at the same time.
  The Internet is the best way to solve this problem. In the past year or two, there have been many websites offering textbooks on the Internet, ranging from eBay’s shopping site to and, which offer all university books.
  But while these sites are easy to use, they currently represent only a small portion of the overall textbook market. According to a 2006 report by the National Institute of College Stores, 23 percent of students buy or sell books online, and one-third buy from websites hosted by campus bookstores. Experts predict that with the rise of textbook websites, more and more students will download or purchase textbooks and online learning directly from the Internet.
  Recently, a publisher named Tom Dolan started a website called Free Download Press. The people who run the site are veterans of publishing textbooks. The website provides students with free downloadable electronic textbooks and study guides for various subjects, such as business, mathematics, and computer use. The website is mainly maintained by advertising. These ads will appear on the download page. “With broadband on campus, it’s a great time to download e-books,” Dolan said. Downloading without ads costs $35, compared to using print books that cost three times as much. Still save a lot.
  E-textbooks disrupt the classroom
  These teachers and publishers are forward-thinking, arguing that modern technology has transformed the traditional way students learn. Bruce Jacobson worked as a department head at Microsoft for nearly 10 years, after which he founded an electronic textbook publisher and named it “Activity Book Club”. “Microsoft’s e-encyclopedia is a good example, and when the Microsoft e-encyclopedia with instant search capabilities appears on the screen, it means that the traditional print encyclopedia has been regarded as authoritative for hundreds of years,” Jacobsen said. The era is over.”
  Electronic textbooks, such as the $40 CD version of “Principles of Physics,” published by the Activity Book Club, seem to be more popular with students than traditional textbooks. Because they are improvements to traditional learning models, adding dynamic simulations of video and still images that are not covered by traditional textbooks. For example, in the chapter on “acceleration”, the animation of the tortoise and the hare is used to illustrate this principle. Jacobson believes that the new generation of e-books not only presents the text of the original book, but also creates a new teaching mode.
  Diane Albert May, a professor of biology at Michigan State University, said she’s taken her classes without textbooks over the years, even in specialized classes. “Biology is developing very fast, and most of the readings in my class are no later than 2004,” she said. She lists some of the books donated by publishers as books and keeps them on the shelves in the classroom as textbooks. for students’ reference.
  Preliminary Classroom of the Future
  Last summer was a harsh season for third-graders at a village elementary school in North Carolina. Parents are invited by the school to the school for a meeting about the students’ final exams. These third graders must pass this test to advance to the fourth grade. Five students failed to meet the minimum score on the North Carolina reading test and it appears they will have to repeat for another year.
  But the school has its own countermeasures: In the summer, they use a set of teaching software called “Internet Achiever” to let students who fail to take supplementary courses online, and finally make them pass the reading test.
  The school began to use the teaching software in the 2004-2005 school year. The results showed that students studying with the teaching software saw their test scores rise by an average of 15 points. And the five students who were going to repeat the grades also successfully advanced to the fourth grade. The school is now waiting for approval from higher authorities to use the software for second-year students.
  Today, similar examples abound. Last month, a new middle school in Philadelphia, USA, officially opened, welcoming its first 170 students. In this school, the classroom is like a meeting room of a business company. Students sit in front of a circular table for class. Large-screen plasma TVs and electronic projectors replace the blackboard. There is no paper, pen and book in front of each student, only a notebook. computer. A robust wireless network covers the entire campus and all teaching activities are conducted online.
  This seems to be the prototype of the future classroom: no blackboard, no chalk, no paper, pens and books on students’ desks, and only one computer per student.
  Like ordinary middle schools, the teaching of this school focuses on reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the difference is the method of teaching and learning. Principal Grover said the school’s teaching was focused on “real life problems”. “Adolescents are reluctant to sit in their seats and listen to what their teachers say or say, and they demand a more active way of learning, a more realistic learning content,” he said.