Prof: “How many people bought the book?”

Everyone else (including me): … total scilence …

It’s been a while since I bought a textbook. The last time must have been back when I was getting my master’s degree. Before that when I was a BSD student at Seneca. I always bought the textbook for each course, even if it seemed like I could do without. It was assigned in the couese – so I got it, and read the chapters I was supposed to read.

But what about these days? I do have the textbook, but completely by accident, I found it in my office, left there by another professor. Would I have bought it? Probably not. Will most of the students in this course buy it? Probably not.

Same in the classes I teach.

But it was’t /that/ long ago that I was a student. What’s changed so fast?

Not ebooks, these guys didn’t buy the electronic version either. The material online? Perhaps.. maybe what we had online a decade ago wasn’t quite good enough to replace a book. Or could it be that the material was there all along, but I just didn’t know how to use it? Did I still treat the information on the internet with skepticism, because who put that stuff on there anyway?

Or maybe I just did what I was supposed to… no, not bloody likely :)

As a student these days I expect to be able to go through a course successfully (in every way) without using a textbook. What’s going to be in it anyway? More details? Not more than any question you possibly have that forums have an immediate answer to. A reference? How many years out of date? Good writing? Please. Good structure for learning the stuff? Seriously, when was the last time you looked in a programming textbook?

I really wonder if there’s any point left in textbooks. They are still assigned (not required in my courses) but noone gets them, and noone reads them.

It’s not because the information in them was pirated, the change is deeper than that. It’s because what people learn when and how changed. References are utterly unnecessary, and learning structure comes from a professor, not from the book.

Trying to use a book to learn a new technology never really worked for me, not even in the old days. Did it work for anyone? Maybe we should accept the fact that reading a book is just a poor way to learn a technology, and stop trying to get back to something that never worked to begin with.

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