Text books: Could college mainstay go the way of the dinosaur?

U-News Staff

Colleges and universities across the country are being confronted with a major challenge: the World Wide Web and social media are changing the way classrooms operate.

According to David Tsouvalas, Editor-in-Chief of StudentAdvisor, an online site dedicated to advising students, “Social media has revolutionized how colleges communicate.”

How has UMKC dealt with this issue?

Every professor is different.

“Do I assign books to read and will I continue? Absolutely,” said Judith Ancel, an Economics professor who specializes in labor issues.

For Ancel, however, there is a caveat: the professor favors articles which are posted onto Blackboard from library databases, underscoring the ways in which technology is changing the way classrooms operate.

Peter Morello, Associate Professor of journalism and mass communications, has textbooks for his classes registered through the UMKC Bookstore.

Whether his lectures follow the textbook depends on the course, he said.

“I often emphasize chapters I consider more important, and I skip certain chapters that are not important.”

Professor Never of the Bloch School said, “I tend to like books, personally. But if students would rather use an e-reader or tablet, then I’ll order books in that online format.”

Peter Eisentrager, head of operations at UMKC’s on campus Bookstore insists it’s a myth that the textbook is on its way out the back door.

“It’s only a perception,” Peter said, “that no one’s actually buying the books.”

He also said that “the vast majority of instructors require some type of traditional textbook.”

Students at UMKC vary in their views on how textbooks and the internet should interact in the classroom.

“I would say that at times, textbooks have been overshadowed by the internet and other means of getting the answer, such as Wikipedia, educational websites, etcetera,” said senior Kory McEneney.

Melissa Howard, a Junior English major, said her political science textbook is useful. However, she cautioned, “I think that they [textbooks] are expensive.”

Mallory Jones, a graduate student, says that “it has been my experience that the Web has not replaced textbooks but has supplemented them.”

Jones’ comments illustrate the middle path that seems most followed—at least at UMKC.

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