While college textbooks might represent one of the most convenient uses for e-books—replacing a ton of heavy books that are a pain to tote around—for some professors and students, they turn out to have insurmountable drawbacks. The Fullerton College Hornet has an article looking at this issue.
The biggest problem is that it’s simply not as easy to flip back and forth to different pages for the purpose of tests or end-of-chapter reviews, which results in students doing more poorly on exams. Another issue is that, when taking tests, many devices that can read e-books can also access the Internet and other outside-of-class sources—and even those that don’t have Internet access can store additional books and crib notes. Some math professors ban the use of any electronic devices in their classroom at all.
Can these obstacles be overcome? It doesn’t seem likely. While e-books are great for keyword-searching and access via tables of contents, for tasks that require flipping back and forth and finding the right page in a hurry, they’re not so great. While e-books do have the convenience of instant access and search capability, they will probably always be better-suited to mass-market fiction that is meant to be read in a linear fashion, rather than textbooks and reference material that needs instant random access.
(Found via The Passive Voice.)