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Education

Iowa College Goes Paperless 421

As reported in this Wired article, joelav22 writes that an "Iowa college plans to go completely paperless. There are no libraries, just work stations for e-books and online information. the article supports that 'The school plans to be an entirely paper-free campus. Last year, about 75 telecommunications students participated in a pilot program to go paperless. Each student used a Compaq iPaq handheld to access e-textbooks, syllabi and class materials, and to take notes and exams.' less time spent in a library equals more time for beer and filming amateur Girls Gone Wild digital video!"
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Iowa College Goes Paperless

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:00PM (#4021091)
    Heavens! That ain't gonna be a pretty site!
  • for research documentation. There may be lots of info on the net but half of it is outdated, and a quarter of the rest is just plain wrong. Unless they are going to sport subscriptions for everyone to one of the big DB companies this is going to erally hurt researchers...
    • But I know my local public University (UTD) has subscriptions to all the major online DB's and research orginizations, and has copies of most referance and reserach journels online. Personally I still think there is a lot to be said for the print stuff, but most Universities are already setup for the electronic research and study end, getting rid of the big old textbooks that you have to lug around would be nice though.
      • again, I don't MEAN TEXTBOOKS. They are issued every year and change alot. What I am refering to is the research books. Now most schools have a few stations set to access in the library area, but if you do away with all the books you are gonna need access ponits for ALOT more students, VPN so they can work from the dorm, or off campus vs 1000 students in the lab or library. It HAS been a while since I was at University so things may have changed but I don't think they are erally set up to support all that access.
    • Had you read the article, you'd have seen that this is not a research university, but a community college. There's probably not very much, if any, research going on there - that's not their mission.


    • Paperless information allows better distribution. This is proven with the success of the world wide web, file sharing, etc.

      What we need to do is get rid of chalk boards and use smartboards, get rid of traditional books and use ebooks, make the information free, produce digital paper so people can download an ebook into an actual book and read it, of course publishers wont like the file sharing community sharing books but its going to happen so get ready for free information and books for all once digital paper is released.
  • No books? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:02PM (#4021116)
    Call me nuts, but there's no fucking way I'd go to a college without books! I understand their desire to be trendy and cool, but a college without a library doesn't have much of a chance to stay a real, accreddited, college.

    A college without a library is called a tech training school. They teach people how to pull cable.
    • It's as if I didn't already have enough distractions. I have enough problems getting actual work done because of me getting sidetracked on a computer. If there weren't books I could grab and strand myself with, I'd never get anything done.

      I'd never want to go to a school without a (paper) library.
    • Instead of a centralized library they have thousands of libraries available anytime, anywhere on campus. Need a book at 4 a.m. because your paper is due at 9 a.m.? Download it and you can get your references, just like that.

      Research has been beyond the scope of paper institutions for some time now. Glad to see them putting this tech to efficient, economic use.

      I can think of hundreds of more examples. Save money on full time staff, more money goes to professors, or pick your passion.

      Save space for the waste of books, build a amphitheatre.

      etc etc.
    • This "Iowa College" is just a single branch of Des Moines Area Community College--emphasis on the community college part. What's more, the branch is in West Des Moines so the students taking classes there can take classes at the main branch (West Des Moines, as you might expect, borders Des Moines) or any of the other four branches with no real hassle. Apparently this branch is going to cater to those just taking tech classes for work or to get a degree that will get them the above-mentioned job pulling cable so they can stop working at the Hy-Vee. Really, with the public libraries and main branch library so close to the students, it seems kind of silly to build a separate library just for this campus--so they decided to become "paperless" and capitalize on the ensuing publicity.

      At least, that's my bet. So don't be alarmed that books are going to be disappearing from colleges and universities, and don't mistake this for the beginning of a revolution in education. It's just a clever marketing spin on the fact that building a separate West Des Moines branch library would be redundant and a waste of funding.
    • No books?! Where the hell am I supposed to stash my used gum?
  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:03PM (#4021121)
    So when some h@x0r CompSci major takes down a box, 30,000 students can't study or do homework. Greaaaaaaaaat. And we all know how secure Campus boxen are, right?

  • Somehow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mstyne ( 133363 ) <mike@@@alphamonkey...org> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:04PM (#4021129) Homepage Journal
    I don't think I can curl up with an I-Paq and get any studying done. The left side of a book is designed so you can rest your head on it and read the right side. Then you fall asleep. Falling asleep on a I-Paq = time for a new I-Paq.
    • Seriously, I do enjoy reading/flipping through a real book much more than a text file. The feel of paper and flipping through, being able to stick your finger on a page and go on so that you can jump back, it all makes it much better. Not to mention that there is way less eye-strain. I've had friends send me files of books (Hobbit, LotR, Sillmarilion among others), after trying to read them for ~3 min, I went out to a bookstore and bought the damn books. $52 well spent.

      The only advantage I can see to e-books is searchability. I do waste time trying to find info in paper books that I could easily find in seconds with an electronic copy. If I had one, I'd probably find the page on the e-book, and then open up the paper book to that page.
    • I don't think I can curl up with an I-Paq and get any studying done

      I'm at exeter university, UK, I cant get any studying done either, and we do have books!
    • has any one tried those 'e-book' readers? are they easy on the eyes? is there enough material for it yet?
  • I hope... (Score:3, Funny)

    by bravehamster ( 44836 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:04PM (#4021132) Homepage Journal
    I hope they're not including _toilet_ paper in their phase-out plans. It's really really hard to wipe your ass with an ipaq. Trust me on this one.

  • Annoying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Perianwyr Stormcrow ( 157913 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:05PM (#4021139) Homepage
    What I'd rather have, instead of a paperless campus, is one that provides good mobility between the spheres of paper information and electronic.

    Give me a Paperport scanner or something similar, and give me electronic versions of my course assignments on a website. But also give me the sheets of paper.

    The vital thing is to be able to use paper for what paper is good at, and electronic systems for their own purposes. There is no reason to throw out what is otherwise the right tool for the job.

    Removing books is an_stupid_00. That means that your ability to study is limited to the availability of computers, and the functionality of said machines. Multimonitor becomes a MUST in this case. I would not mind electronic versions to do full text searches of, but dammit I want dead tree editions- zero failure chance, save physical loss. I also do not want to be forced into a zero-ownership system for my textbooks (which seems to be the primary thrust of schemes like this.)

    • Digital Paper/Ink Digital Paper [eink.com]

      This new paper, with electronic ink would mean one book could hold all your books. One piece of paper could be your news paper, magazine, even your favorite website. One peice of paper could have all your schoolwork on it.

      Sympodium [smarttech.com]Interactive Lecture technology, This allows students to view the board, as well as move along at their own pace doing their own thing. This would allow a student to learn more due to the class not slowing them down. Its interactive so if a person wants
      more detail about something they can get it.

      Reason, Logic, Cause and effect.

      This is something schools never teach and this is one of the most important things we must teach kids, as well as adults.
      Example [intel.com]
    • Libraries in general have way more books than they could possibly have terminals. It's quite possible for all terminals to be occupied yet no two people using the same book. This means, I can't study, but in a traditional library I could.

      Having electronic copies of assignments and lecture notes available is great (I get that at my far-from-paperless university), but I also find it easier to study from notes that I wrote, partly because the writing is familiar and I can remember writing it and the lecture that went with it, but also because I can have many pages all laid out around me at the same time. I would find an iPaq screen very very restrictive.

      I wonder how many of those students end up writing notes out on paper later anyhow?

      • Just about every university requires pc's, mac's or laptops anymore, so every student should have the resources to run an app to digitally sign out whatever info they need. Now you just need an app that is cross platform and which contains all the needed information.
  • You now have a tremendous reliance on clean, stable power. Without more details, I would imagine that there are additional cooling facilities that become critical, not just desireable. I would hope that there is an extremely fast turnaround on equipment repair and maintenance or that paper you need to finish for tomorrow could be late...

    I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a Mobile P4 2Ghz, 512MB, 30GB, 2.2lb laptop.
  • Copyright? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:05PM (#4021144) Homepage Journal
    Isn't the only reason that a library is legal because they have a limited number of copies of a book? I mean if a new book comes out and goes in the library, its ok for the library to lend it out because they only have a limited number of copies. Assuming they will have a collection of fiction these university students will be able to make an e-book copy of every book in the library and share them with the rest of the world. A new book will come out, these students will make e-book copies, and anyone who wants can have it for free rather than going to Borders.
    The book companies have been on "our side" in terms of DMCA and stuff, we don't want to make another RIAA evil organization.
  • Besides the really horrific idea of just 'discarding' their paper libraries in favor of digital media, (They can't be planning to really do this. It seems like conversion would cost far more money than it ever saved.) The introduction of digital textbooks is just too good an opportunity for DRM to get its stinking, rapacious tentacles into the virgin halls of academia in the form of pay-per-read, unresellable, instructional media.

    Now if they were planning on introducing textbooks in entirely restriction-free formats like ascii text, PNG/HTML, or postscript, then I can see this happening, but I trust them to do this like I would trust a drunken frat boy at a catholic girls' junior high school.

    The article never mentions DRM, but there is a telling quote about half-way through:

    "We are heading toward a world where, instead of reading a bunch of Bill Gates' quotes, you want to have a video clip of him actually speaking that quote."

    Thanks, but I won't be burning my bridges just yet.

  • by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:07PM (#4021166)
    I believe Microsoft is a paper free environment, having all employee related forms and guidebooks online on their corprorate intranet. Would any Microsoft employees care to comment? Anybody else here want to comment about other companies that have gone paper free or at least tried?

    as for replacing BOOKS with electronic texts...that's still a problem because of readability due to resolution. It takes longer to read text on a CRT or LCD vs. a piece of paper. I've noticed it's easier to read text for longer periods of time on an LCD vs. a CRT, but the rate of absorbtion is not as fast as nice sharp text printed at 150 - 600 DPI. Technology will fix this eventually, but until then it's a partial solution at best.

    ---Mike

    • Yeah, when I was at Intel, the Intranet was great, especially for benefits questions etc. There was just one problem--there was no record of previous versions of the site.

      It was essential to have a paper copy of your benefits so you could know what they were when they were given to you, instead of what they are now.
  • They say they're going paperless, then they say that students pay for printing after 20 pages.

    If they were really going paperless, they'd be outlawing printers, too.
  • This would suck. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:10PM (#4021189) Homepage
    Given that you read something like 1/3 more slowly off a video screen opposed to a paper book, this would suck pretty big-time. Reading assignments were always bad enough; the last thing I'd want to do is spend more time than I have to reading.

    Besides, nothing (yet) can replace a book you own, a highlighter and a pen for making notes in the margin and taking the whole thing to a study lounge to get away from your roommate's beer party (the sacrifices we make for good grades).

    • Where did you pull that 1/3 figure from? It doesn't
      seem to be true for me. It is probably heavily dependant on the font used. Books are typically written with a thicker font than is used on a computer screen. Change the font and the computer screen becomes a lot more legible.

  • Knowing the bookstores in colleges, they will be able to charge the same wonderfully high prices for books that can be used for only one year.
    Personally, I'm broke, and have, on more than one occasion, gone to the library to check out a textbook held on reserve instead of spending $100 for a fucking math (ya, lots of work went into those) text that I will never use again.
    That said, consoles and wireless = hella cool, tho I have to wonder about the speed of the network w/a lot of people.
    • A college that has an e-book that is only for one year is one that I would avoid. Its been 10 years since I got my degree and find my old engineering books as a great reference. Yes, even they were pricey and they always would increase the edition version each semester so we couldn't trade. But at least I still have these dead trees and they are still valuable.
  • I've never heard of said college. I just finished my college search in the CS career a few years back, and never once got refered to even look at them. This leads me to believe it's one of those "get a few credits and transfer" schools, not a real college.
  • so much for anything to actually happen when the power goes...

    yeah the Ipaq's have batteries but not the network they would connect to for the libraries of info

    that would be a great place to get a contract for UPS systems
  • by rhadamanthus ( 200665 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:13PM (#4021230)
    If the textbooks you "downloaded" continued to be available after your class is over. I doubt this personally (but I don't know for sure), since e-books are fairly notorious for being DRM equipped. I use my older books all the time for my current classes in chemical engineering. I would be completely screwed and rather pissed if I opened my old thermodynamics book to see "We're sorry. The book you requested to view is no longer available since you are outside of it's registration period. You must re-register. the cost is only a modest 50.00."

    Thanks but no thanks. I would only do this if the book was mine FOREVER.

    ---rhad

    • You're only going to give them ideas. Before you know it, degrees will be DRM protected:
      We're sorry, the degree you asked us to confirm for an employer is no longer available since you're outside its registration period. To re-register your degree for a further 5 years at a cost of only $2,000, click here. If you're a dues-paying member of our Alumni Association, you may be eligible to re-register your degree for only $1,500.
  • When *I* was in school I got WAY to many of those fluorescent orange pieces of paper [nyc.gov] tucked under the windshield wipers of my car; I'd have loved to see them try to go completely paperless!
    • so you get an email thats says
      "You have been fined for illeagl parking. The money will be convienantly deducted from your next student loan.
      You have the right to appeal this, but as a safty measure, all your access will be cut off to insure the saftey of the schools data.

      thank you"
  • by BlackGriffen ( 521856 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:20PM (#4021293)
    Yeah, things like Maple/Mathmatica and Tex are nice and all, but I get all of my serious thinking done on paper. I generally turn to such systems only when I need to solve hairy differential equations or when I am typing up a paper. I suppose I might be able to survive with a tablet and some sort of simple sketching program, but you still can't beat the stability and user friendliness of good old fashioned bleached wood pulp and graphite shaft.

    My $.02

    BlackGriffen
  • I have never been a big fan of the paperless concept. There are certain dynamic-content stuff that computers are best at - /. is an excellent example. Everytime I visit the site, I want to see it updated and changed.

    On the other hand, most of the static content like books, journals etc. are better read offline.

    I am surprised that people keep repeating paperlessness as some kind of an Utopian goal. Not using paper might reduce the number of trees that are felled, but switching off computers saves power! Who's to decide which is a more worthy goal?

  • by daveb ( 4522 ) <davebremerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:28PM (#4021367) Homepage
    One of the programmes I teach at a polytechnic is the Cisco Network Academy Programme [cisco.com] which aims to train novice students to the level of CCNA with lots of hands on router experience (rather than exam-cram) All of the written material is available online for free (to enrolled paid up students - ie no extra cost) - a book is available - but its not cheap or required.

    I find that about 2/3 of the students elect to purchase the book even though it has nothing more than the online material - indeed - the graphics aren't even animated (although there is a CD with simulators and movies).

    As one student told me - the book seldom has a glare problem, never flickers, and you can read it in the bath.

    It is good to have the material on-line - but there is still a place for "ink-on-pulped-wood" as a transport media. Just because you can do it solely on-line doesn't mean that you should

  • technology not ready (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 )
    First, I admit I am old. I admit that my learning was with paper textbooks, the CRC Handbook for mathematical tables, and class notes full of examples to copy from for homework problems. Although I understand many of these can be replaced, in the same way that electronic calculators replace numerical tables, I fail to see how one can access information quickly enough, or read enough on current low resolution screens, to do real work using only a PDA and a portable.

    I am not talking about the physical presence of the book, or the convenience of flipping the pages, or the romance of the printed page. Though I grew up with the miles of indexes at the library, and the rows of computer manuals at the computer lab, I transitioned quite happily to central searchable databases and online help. What I am talking about is the sheer quantity of information a student is required to assimilate and fact that all the information needed is never in one place. My desk was generally littered with books to read and resources needed to complete assignments. While having all of this on computer would have been nice, I can't imagine having to read 100 pages a day at screen resolution, or have to flip from screen to screen to find the right information.

    On the other hand, I would have killed to have all the classic English, math, and science texts at my fingertips. If all the resources were remotely and wirelessly accessible, that would be way cool. I can see the benefit of not having to search for that one table needed to finish the problem. Manually searching for table is no longer a needed skill. But still, no books at all? I fear for the students eyesight.

  • After reading the article, this sounds like a really bad idea.
    1. Support costs will go through the roof.
    2. Likewise, most likely, with power costs.
    3. If I was a petty thief reading slashdot, guess where I'd be enrolling right now? And you thought campus bicycle thefts were bad.
    4. I must be old fashioned, but the idea of reading everything on a handheld instead of out of a book gives me a headache already. I've used an iPaq, and even though it has a great screen, I'm not sold on eBooks quite yet. In fact, as the article mentions, printing costs are anticipated to go up as people find this out. How exactly is this going to save paper?
    I am very supportive of tech in education. However, I don't think we're there yet in terms of paperless college campuses. This almost sounds like a propoganda move prompted by a grant from a huge backer.
  • It's important to recognize that the college in question is a community college. In many respects community colleges are largely paperless anyway; for example, many (most?) don't have their own libraries.

    There's no danger of research universities going paperless.

  • A similar story (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maydog ( 526424 )
    This is from my Alma Matter:

    http://www.d.umn.edu/cse/techreq.html

    It requires students in Science and Engineering to purchase IPAQs and extra junk in order to register for classes. The University had tried to require laptops for students, but all EE, CS and ECE students already had several and didn't want to be told what to buy. The laptop deal went to a sutdent vote and failed miserably. This IPAQ initative was never sent to a vote - the chancellor saw the almighty $$ and students had no vote.

    I was lucky to graduate before this requirement was imposed. I think it is the school's plan to eventually require all students to purchase this at an inflated price. I am sure some UMD are reading this right now - Do you feel that these PDA's are helping you with your educational experience?

    In the professional setting these are great for keeping track of apointments and emails but are not much good for anything else. I am curious how they are getting worked into the cirriculum.

    "Sorry teacher my dog ate my IPAQ!"
  • With the lastest advances in comptuer, e-mail, and e-whatever use on campuses has prompted the computer-age equivalent of "my dog ate it" excuses. All I hear from people is:

    "oh my e-mail isn't working"
    "my computer crashed"
    "my printer doesn't have ink"
    "the network is down"

    The problem is that these things happen frequently as well so they cannot be just passed off as an excuse. Sure, with the load on school websites around midterm and final time, it is plausible the server might have been inaccessible. So what do you do? Hold it against the student? You can't because of circumstance. Now with this entire e-book thing which I can't stand. I've done a lot of research and sure using an online database to help search the card catalog is nice but reading books online is a drag. Let's face it, staring at a computer screen is far more fatiguing than staring at a book. I want access to both the e-book and the hardcopy. Lastly, I am not shelling out a couple hundred bucks for an iPaq nor am I carrying my laptop on campus. I already have enough to carry and a laptop + charger doesn't help anything. The iPaq is just too much money and I don't see much use for it since I can do everything on my laptop. I bought a Palm pilot when they first came out many years ago. Other than checking for an occassional phone number, I never use the thing. Its a waste of money for me. Sure I see my friends trying to make good use of theirs by sitting their and struggling with the stylus on the same stuff that would take me 1/3 the time.

    Bottom line, computer equipment needs to be more reliable, the networks need to be able to take the strain, and PDAs need to come down in price.
  • by nano-second ( 54714 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:32PM (#4021403)
    My eyes get sore after a certain amount of time staring at a computer screen... if I had to do all my studying/reading/working on computer screens (of various sizes/shapes) I would kill my eyesight. Especially since the iPaq's are way smaller than your average text book. I think the graduating class will all have squints.
  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:35PM (#4021422) Journal
    So will the campus e-bookstore still sell e-books to you and then buy them back at 10% of the purchase price?

    Student: Hi, I have 300 copies of Postmodernism for Dummies to sell back.
    Clerk: Hey, aren't you the guy we bought 500 copies from yesterday?
    Student: No sir, that was my roommate. The guy in the room next to me should be stopping by later. I advised everyone on my floor to buy a few hundred copies of each book at the beginning of the year. An investment in "e-books" sounded like a good idea at the time. Guess not.

  • Call me old fasion and naiive but this is just impossible without even taking into account the fact that many people would just plain prefer books in dead tree format. to quote information from my school librarie's website "The combined collections total more than six million printed works, five million manuscripts and two million nonprint items, and increase at the rate of about 10,000 volumes a month." now lets say half of those are out of print (its probably closer to 90%) thats 3 million books which the publisher sure as hell isnt going to put into ebook format. putting those books in some sort of reasonable digital format (one which allows for illustrations, holds the original layout of the text and allows for searches) would be a staggering project.

    I cant see this being done very well at all unless they have a collection the size of a small public library, and even then it wouldnt be cost effective.

  • I read through the various articles and one point was missed. Why IPaq? Why not a notebook a Palm, a Newton, etc? And yet nobody really said anything about this.

    This is a scary notion that an IPaq must be used. it is sort of like saying to study at this college you must drive this car. When I went through engineering we could choose the calculating device so long as it fufilled a certain subset of calculations.

    Scary indeed....
  • Is this an undergraduate only college? While it might be possible for undergraduates to use digitized versions of their textbooks, it won't be possible for anyone to do much research; it is inevitably necessary to look up research papers, and anything earlier than 1990 is not likely to be available in digital form.
  • just two gripes
    1) as far as i know, Lib still contairs *much* more information than
    a) the web
    b) whatever online lib you can come up with
    c) e-book collections

    2) now your library is limited to the number of workstations -- "sorry bud, i know you have an exam tomorrow, but we are simply out of workstations right now"

    * note to (2) i know a bunch of you will immediately attempt to point out that you can access this stuff at home -- but most propriatory acedemic stuff is quite copyrighted, and you need to be at the lib to access them, even today. (journal databases, a lot of e-books, for example)

    3) have anyone ever tried to read a map on a computer screen? it's rediculous how much time you waste on zoom unzoom pan-left pan-right. instead, in the dead-tree version, all the info is right there. you get your high-res view in one fell swoop. same goes with a lot of other big-sheet stuff. why do you think we have plotters for the archetechture kiddiez? sure -- autoCAD makes it easy to *draw* the building, but it's on huge blueprint paper when it really makes sense.

    4) iPaq aside -- i would not want to stare at screens all day. it is
    a) bad for your eyes
    b) i can't study in bed, or on the toilet (cenveniently) -- and we all know men't greatest enlightments are achieved on the throne. (like the FluxCapacitor)
    c) iPaq has shitty resolution for any research i want to do; hell, QXGA screen? wtf? i am using dual UXGA and *still* need more desktop space.

    5) i lied about the two gripes thing
  • That would be hilarious!

    Built a EMP device and put it in the trash can in the middle of the quad. Set for lunch time. Watch the fun!

    Be sure to record results with pen a paper for extra credit!

  • As an aerospace major, there's no freaking way that I could study/research in a paper free environment. Electronic media simply cannot function effeciently in situations where I require graphs, tables, drawings & references simutaneously and directly in front of me.

    Now textbooks are another issue...the disadvantages most definitely out weigh any possible benefits of a paperless environment. This is especially the case for technical texts where it is common for students to add personal notes and comments into their textbooks. Therefore that $100 I spent on my aerodynamics text was not just because my class required it, but was an addition to my personal reference library.

    Ideally, it would best to have everything in paper and electronic media. Look up what you want electronically and perform detailed research with both paper and electronic media

  • The whole idea of "paperless" is a sham... I read some statistic a while ago that since e-mail has been introduced into offices, paper use has gone UP, since a lot of people would print out their e-mails. I don't know about everyone else, but whenever I get a lengthy reading assignment online in one of my classes, first thing I do is print it up on my laser printer and find a quiet spot to read. If I'm on my computer, I generally don't have enough discipline to shut down instant messenger, my mp3 player, and all the other apps I run as distractions in the background.

    Another problem with the whole iPaq thing: battery life. If you're reading a book that takes more than a few hours to finish, you've got a problem! (Especially if you've got a wireless card or some power-sucker plugged in). From my own observations, a lot of people don't read near outlets all the time.

  • Sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by windside ( 112784 ) <pmjboyle AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @04:52PM (#4021566)
    One of the defining features of my youth has been reading old, ragged copies of my mother's books. She was an English major at University and she took notes in the margins of books like Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, Heller's Catch-22, the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the First Edition of LOTR, and Joyce's Ulysses.

    I am an engineering student, but I love to read. Her insights (especially while reading Ulysses) are wonderfully helpful to someone who has a limited knowledge of literature. To boot, I have something that I can really associate with my mother about.

    There's something intangible about picking up a 30-year old copy of your favourite novel and knowing that 5 or 6 other people have enjoyed it as well. This might seem sappy, but reading something from a monitor (or even from the screen of an iPaq) just doesn't have the same soul as reading from paper. It's the same reason why the National Post (a Canadian newspaper, eh?) will ALWAYS be better than The National Post [nationalpost.com].

    Let's keep books of literature and education alive and relegate more soul-less forms of communication (like porn) to the computer world.

    Windside
    --------

  • by zapfie ( 560589 )
    This would be really useful at our college.. we have course materials online, grades, etc. It cuts down on a lot of wasted resources (time, paper, etc). I can't help but wonder if eBooks gain more popularity, what kinds of implications DRM, etc will have at libraries and colleges. If even CDs can now contain EULA's, it seems a little scary to think what could be done with eBooks. Hopefully, though, I am just being way too paranoid.
  • What happens to bed-time reading? None of the devices I've seen so far are comfortable to fall asleep with...

    Also, I don't believe all of the decent content is available in digital form. May be, it is good to have the course materials paperless -- the new content, but the libraries should still carry the old texts.

    Finally, sometimes the pure knowledge, that a book you are holding was printed and first read 100-200 years ago can be quite exciting and thought provoking... Not even a reprint would do that, forget an electronic gizmo :-)

  • I worry about going paperless. I mean, it's great and all, but will the information really last? I keep reading posts on /. about entering a "digital dark age," where centuries from now, nobody will be able to access the information we keep now. Information just a few years old is unreadable. (10" floppies, anyone?) How is our information supposed to last for millenia?

    I think that for some applications it's just fine -- nobody really needs to see all my archived emails a hundred years from now (though I'm sure it would be interesting to my progeny to learn about me), but what about the research and scientific understanding in our colleges and universities? We ought to do SOMETHING to preserve our knowledge. Maybe inscribe it in stone or metal and send it off to the moon or somewhere, I dunno.

    I think going paperless is good. But I think the paper trail to our history should be replaced instead of just chucked out the window. Something for long-term storage of our archived electronic information would be fine -- but it should be in a format that we are sure will be readable in the future.

  • Spend all day on an iPaq = drained battery.
    Is that the new excuse for not being able to take a test? "Sorry, my battery is dead" ...
  • Fooling Themselves (Score:3, Insightful)

    by telstar ( 236404 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @05:20PM (#4021756)
    "Once they have surpassed that amount (of allotted printouts), they have to go back and add more copies to their account," Paustian said. "Otherwise, they'll print off reams of paper."
    • Maybe they're printing off reams of paper because your new learning method is flawed.
  • The school plans to be an entirely paper-free campus.

    That is not very real-world training. The boss will hand them hand-scribbled notes on a paper reports, and the graduate will reply, "Can you retype your notes into Word, by chance? I am not used to this medium."

    They won't even know what the pink-slip is that will then be handed to them.
  • So now we know where all the ex-dot-com "business idea planners" went.
  • is this a bong only school now?
  • by isdnip ( 49656 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @05:56PM (#4021959)
    Paperless good. Paperless plus good. Paper can stick around, carrying un-information. Paperless makes it easier for the Ministry of Truth to remove references to unpersons, and to change unfacts when they are no longer true.

    With new paperless media like DVD-ROM and Ebook and the DMCA, it is already a federal crime to circumvent the Ministry's control over information. Once the DVD player expires, or the rights-managed usage grant expires, then it will be a crime to circumvent protections in order to access un-information. Downloaded music from PressPlay will all die when PressPlay does. It becomes un-music! You'll have to buy the next big star they want to sell you!

    Paperless good! Long live Big Brother!
  • I've used a Newton and more recently a Jornada 720 [swiki.net] for taking all of my notes and a lot more at school. I would love to have electronic versions of my textbooks rather than sticking with the expensive and bulky papers ones I have now. Where can I get e-textbooks instead of regular ones? What do they cost? Do they have a decent selection?
  • There will still be plenty of rolling papers.
  • by LoFat ByLine ( 321449 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @06:48PM (#4022259)
    It's interesting that two of the instructors had to develop their own e-textbook because nothing appropriate for their course was available in electronic format.

    This is a pretty clear indication that the decision was made to go electronic before any reasonable assessment was made of whether the necessary course materials were actually available in that format.

    Did the college factor in the cost of developing their own textbooks into their calculation of the overall cost of this initiative?

    Did they pause to consider that maybe their students would benefit more from having the best course materials available for use, regardless of format?

    The observation that "students prefer to look things up online" is irrelevant. Part of a decent post-secondary education is learning how to locate the best source of information available, which isn't always the most convenient source.

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