Sunday, January 16, 2011

Technically Old School

I cannot believe I’m about to admit this, but I am old school.  I mean seriously old school, as in this old dog apparently is having trouble learning new tricks.  The long and short?  I hate reading my online schoolbooks.  Hate with a capital L.O.A.T.H.E.
The odd thing about this is that while I am getting a little lengthy in the tooth, I am pretty familiar with (addicted to?) the Interweb and computer-y stuff.  I get most of my news via a wide variety of online sources.  I spend way too much time on Facebook and Twitter and email; I don’t actually speak out loud with any friends anymore.  I follow techie newsie social-y stuff on TechCrunch and Mashable.  People, I even advise clients on ways to ramp up and enhance their social media presence, and I spend a good amount of time testing different tools and sites and whatnot.  I’m not a guru, but a slouch I am not.  
My precious Kindle in front of my favorite elephant lamp
In addition, my husband and parents teamed up to get me a Kindle this year, which I ADORE. J’adore. Lo quiero. Did you guys know there are, like, a billion books, including many classics, that you can get for FREE to load onto your Kindle?  I spent hours and hours a few days ago force-feeding classics into my skinny little reader buddy, classics I may or may not ever choose to or care to read.  Just because they’re “classics” and they’re “free.”  As my husband says, if it’s free, I’ll take two!
Where was I?  Oh yes… so a few of my classes offered downloadable books, and I thought, “Wow, how very technologically awesome! And so environmentally conscious. Yes! I will buy the downloadable books!” And so I did.
The first problem I encountered – and if you’ve been in college this century, you may know this already – is that these books aren’t always (often?) made for a Kindle type reader. Nook can read some, but not all. The books I was assigned… well, they each needed a special, downloadable reader, and neither reader system carried both books I needed.  So now I have two new programs on my computer, each taking up space and memory in order for me to read a single book.
So far, not great but not awful, right?
I ran into the second problem when I tried to read one of my downloaded books from my laptop computer while sitting on my couch. The reader system just churned and churned but wouldn’t open my book.  After a few refreshes and a complete reboot, I called the company customer service and told him exactly what was happening.  Here is a snippet of our actual conversation:
Customer Service:  I think I know what’s wrong. Are you using a laptop and not plugged in?
Me:  Um, yes, that’s correct. My laptop is not plugged in.
Customer Service:   Ah, that’s the problem. Our system won’t run correctly unless your computer’s plugged in.
Me:  Come again?
Customer Service:  Our system glitches up when you’re on battery power.
Me:  Let me get this straight. If I am working from my laptop from some random place, like a Starbucks or my couch or a playground that happens to have WiFi, and I'm not plugged into a wall socket, I can’t read my downloaded book?
Customer Service:  Yes, ma’am.
Me:  And this system is supposed to be helpful for modern college students?
Customer Service:  Yes, ma’am.
So I went online and bought the physical book, which would be in my possession already had it not been for Snowmageddon.
The other downloadable book reader isn’t as odd in its performance, but after a week using it, I have to admit that I don’t love reading a book on my computer screen.  I don’t like scrolling down to read a column of text only to have to scroll back up to the top of the next column.  Highlighting via touchpad is kind of anticlimactic, and, well, there’s something so very scholastic and memory-enhancing (and just a smidge naughty!) about scrawling actual, handwritten notes on a physical schoolbook!  Don’t ya think?  And isn’t there even a study about how writing by hand helps lock in knowledge?
Oh, well. Enough griping. I suppose I should drag my sorry behind into the 21st century. This old dog has some more online reading to do. While taking copious notes. Into a notebook. By hand. With a ballpoint pen.

1 comment:

  1. I agree on every point. I very much dislike my e-books for class. That and we've been informed that even though we're paying full price for these books we only keep them for five years before we get notice that we have to purchase them again. hm....$75 for an e-book or $30 for the same book that I can keep for however long I choose.... that and I'm like the half blood prince, I write notes all over my books.


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