Professors rethink need for textbooks
by Keith Uhlig
Wausau Daily Herald
When biology professor Paul Whitaker was deciding which textbook to use in a first-year seminar course, he chose to use no book at all.Plenty of books would help the University of Wisconsin Marathon County professor teach the seminar, a college-success course that helps students develop time-management and study skills.
"But they typically run $50 or something and are 300 to 350 pages," Whitaker said. "There are just gobs of materials online and plenty of articles. I can tailor (education materials) a lot more for our students and save them a whole heap of money."
With technology offering so many other resources and with ever-increasing tuition prices, college professors across the country are deciding that the once ubiquitous textbook might not be needed for every class after all, said John Curtis, director of research and public policy at the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of University Professors.
Curtis said he didn't know whether any studies have been done on the declining use of textbooks, but he said he thinks more professors than ever are moving away from their use. "I think one of the reasons for it is that there has been a lot of talk about the cost of textbooks," he said.
Q: Are there any of your classes that you could teach naked (without textbooks). If you could and you don't, why not? Are there some disciplines where this might work? Are there some where it might?