Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ah, the costs of learning technology

Through the Kept Up Librarian, an editorial piece out of the Pitt News on the costs of learning technology for students. The moment I read this piece I thought of our Systems Librarian, who is very conscious of the costs of paper and cartridges for our printers. I am as well, but I think he is a bit more aware as it is part of his job. Now if the higher ups would listen to him so we could implement a bit more cost effectiveness here and there, but that is another story. At any rate, the article discusses how professors find it very easy to put more materials online for students to find thanks to course management software (CMS) systems. In the olden days, the teachers had to make copies and make a packet, the dreaded packet students had to buy that was usually worthless by the end of the semester. Now, the professor can scan to his/her heart's content without real thought to what is being put online, and the students will have to print it out. Well, I hear a critic say, "they don't have to print it out; it's online." To the critic I say, "have you tried reading a couple hundred pages on the screen?" Now, in many institutions, there are print control mechanisms that give students an allowance of pages to print; however, someone still has to pay for the paper and ink, and eventually it goes to their tuition. There is a price for the convenience.

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