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Bianchini: Pick up a (real) book

BY FRANCESCA BIANCHINI | SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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When you think of school, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? For some, it might be dreading the endless amount of homework. Others may cringe at the cost of their textbooks. Me? I think of ICON, e-books, and any other electronic device that you can imagine.

Check the course website for the syllabus. Read a chapter of your e-book for homework. Submit your essay into the online ICON drop box. This daily procedure has been imprinted in every student’s brain since her or his first class at Iowa.

So what happens when technology fails? That situation occurred on Sept. 12, when students and staff were unable to log onto their ICON home pages, complete homework assignments, or take their online quizzes.

And although the problem was fixed later that night, this minor technological glitch gave light to a slightly larger issue: Students depend too much on technology to get them through their school days.

In a study done by CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, 73 percent of students surveyed contended that they would not be able to study without the use of technology.

Not to sound like my mother, but doesn’t anyone ever pick up a book anymore? Call me old-fashioned, but I’d take a printed text over a digital screen any day.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting we revert to being cavemen and writing our essays on stone blocks with chisels and hammers. But maybe every once in a while, we should pick up a book to do our research and lay off of Wikipedia — because we know how credible that information can be.

Sure, online resources have their benefits. They’re convenient, and they might even save some cash, but if we are going to be so dependent on technology, then we’re going to need an upgrade.

And I’m not talking about the snazzy iPhone 5 or a new MacBook Pro. For starters, a course website that wasn’t periodically broken would be nice. Or even a textbook that doesn’t expire once the semester is over. It doesn’t take a search engine to figure that out.


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