This is the title of a Chronicle of Higher Education commentary by Marc Prensky, in which he suggests the first university to literally replace all books with electronic readers and ebooks will make history and usher in a new era of education.
Why, in a world in which choice and personal preference are highly valued, would any college want to create such a mandate? Because it makes a bold statement about the importance of moving education into the future. It is, in a sense, only a step removed from saying, “We no longer accept theses on scrolls, papyrus, or clay tablets. Those artifacts do still exist in the world, but they are not the tools of this institution.” Or: “In this institution we have abandoned the slide rule. Those who find it useful and/or comforting can, of course, use it, but not here.”
Prensky describes a process of transitioning a university and its students from rigid books to essentially an enhanced reading and studying experience, citing the many additions to a text that are possible with ereading, from web links and multimedia, to commentary on text and/or its preparation, to networked discussions. It would be the professor’s job to decide what enhanced material was useful and relevant to their students and curricula. He describes the process as transformational as well as educational, as significant as moving from the slide rule to the pocket calculator in the late 20th century.
Also notable is a comment about the outgoing technology, books, that I’m not sure I’ve heard put this way before.
Third, and I believe this to be the greatest advantage, ideas would be freed from the printed page, where they have been held captive for too many centuries. In addition to being a dissemination mechanism and an archive, the physical book is, in many ways, a jail for ideas—once a book is read, closed, and shelved, for most people it tends to stay that way. Many of us have walls lined with books that will never be reopened, most of what is in them long forgotten.
A commentary worth checking out in its entirety.