Online Textbooks
Friend or foe?

By Ann Dolin

Online textbooks are here to stay. The problem is that not all parents like them and most students don’t know how to use them efficiently. In fact, one of the questions I hear most from parents during my school presentations is, “How do I monitor my child’s computer usage when he has to use online textbooks?” All too often, parents report that their children are surfing the Internet instead of completing homework.

With Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and an entire world of distraction just one click away, parents’ concerns are warranted. Moms and dads aren’t the only ones troubled. Of students surveyed, over 50 percent said they were unsure if they would use e-textbooks again if they had the choice. But like it or not, online textbooks are becoming increasingly popular in classrooms.

Four tips to make digital learning a little more manageable:

tip #1
Put the device in a public place. Have you ever turned the corner to see your child quickly minimizing a tab as you approach? If so, it’s likely that he’s really not doing homework. If this is the norm, consider keeping the computer or tablet in a public place helps. This change of location helps students to be more focused and accountable.

tip #2
Decrease the number of windows. Interestingly, research has shown a direct correlation between the number of tabs a student has open to his attentiveness —the more tabs that are open, the less attentive he will be while doing schoolwork. Furthermore, there is a correlation between the number of tabs a student has open and their GPA—the more tabs they have open, the lower their GPA.

tip #3
Track the time. There are a number of great applications available to help students manage distractions. One of my favorites is RescueTime, which actually tracks time spent on applications and websites, giving students an accurate picture of their day. RescueTime helps students understand their daily habits so they can hone their focus and be more productive.

tip #4
When in doubt, order the hard copy. The reality is that some students are going to struggle with online textbooks. If your child seems to function better with good old-fashioned hard copies, consider buying them online. Many times, you can find slightly older editions for nothing more than the shipping cost.


(January 2014)


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