Web Culture

4 Things That Totally Suck About Using Technology in School

Jessica Cam Wong 16-11-2011

4 Things That Totally Suck About Using Technology in School image19 300x300I’ve read that e-books The 10 Best Free Ebook Download Sites Want free ebook downloads? Here are several of the best sites for downloading free ebooks. Read More are the future of books, and it’s not a matter of if they’ll surpass print books but when.  Being still in college, I wondered if that was the case for e-textbooks 3 Websites To Purchase Electronic College Textbooks One of the biggest shocks for me when I first enrolled in college was the insane cost of textbooks. Unfortunately, there is really no way to cut out this problem, but if you don't want... Read More . There’s certainly more buzz on e-textbooks as they’re cheaper and it means that students don’t have to break their backs with heavy physical books. But are they better? Is going all digital better?


This whole semester I’ve been dealing with e-textbooks and using just an Android The Best Android Apps on the Google Play Store for 2019 Looking for the best Android apps for your phone or tablet? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for Android. Read More tablet (Acer Iconia A500) to digitize all of my schoolwork to answer these questions. It’s not even the end of the semester but I can conclude that it’s been more of a hassle than a convenience. The tablet The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out While the iPad was able to jump on the tablet market before anyone else, Android tablets from competitors are starting to flow like water. There’s now a wide variety of options available and many of... Read More itself is great, but using technology in school isn’t quite the same. Remember the Kno tablet? While I thought it was revolutionary, the concept didn’t seem to be picked up by schools. Universities, professors and students simply (some may be but most) aren’t ready to embrace digital textbooks, and not all professors make it easier for students who want to use their laptops or tablets to replace pen and paper.

Have An e-Textbook? You Will Fail An Open-Book Test


The argument of e-books versus traditional textbooks books goes beyond whether you prefer the look and feel of an actual book to the more unnatural book-on-a-screen experience. In terms of practicality, there are many obstacles and opposing forces to replacing physical books with digital versions for good. For instance, even right now when tablets have been hot for at least a year since the iPad 1 came out and there are quite a few people who can afford them, none of my professors at my apparently-expert-in-social-media school so far have declared that they prefer digital textbooks. One of my Computer Science professors reasoned that you can easily cheat on a test, go online on your web-enabled device and easily call or email your mom and ask her to look up the answer in a textbook for you. You could also simply Google the answer.

Having e-books and web-enabled devices also limit forms of testing, which is a just a headache for instructors. They’ll probably hate you for making them figure out a way you can’t cheat on the test and giving them additional work. This is true when the study material is as difficult as figuring out the answer to some obscure logic riddle, and some professors might prefer to give open-notes and open-textbook tests. Right now, since there are some students with the physical books and some with the e-books, those who purchase the digital versions of the textbooks end up disadvantaged.



Students could solve this by printing segments of their textbooks for the exams, but this is usually not permitted per the textbook publisher. How do I know this? My classmates who buy the (cheaper) digital textbook end up going through hoops of inconvenience to secure a remotely decent grade during these open-textbook exams. That usually includes having to figure out a way to bypass the limitation the textbook publisher has imposed for the e-book – you can only print 10 pages at a time. So the unpleasant options you have when you buy the digital textbook are to either print 10 pages at a time, harass a classmate to make photocopies of their physical book or buy the textbook anyway. I swear this is happening in one of my classes this semester.

Have An e-Textbook & Are Majoring In The Sciences? Your Book Will Confuse You

Another downside I have seen when traditional textbooks are replaced is that not all the text in a specialized textbook will be compatible with the rendering engine of an e-reader or tablet. I am NOT kidding. I’ve seen this first hand when one of my classmates who got the Kindle textbook ended up being totally confused with a formula. The way the formula was displayed on the Kindle involved a delta triangle instead of the correct symbols.

Talking about incompatibility, here’s an example of something equally confusing from my actual Logic class notes on my Android tablet.



I’m pretty sure those squares up there in the screenshot were meant to be curly braces, but that is just a guess.

Stylus Or Not, Hand-Writing On A Tablet Will Suck (& Be Slower Than If You Just Freakin’ Use Pen & Paper)

Right now, iPad and tablet owners have probably thought it best to try a stylus in the hope that they can replace paper. I know I have. I used Bamboo’s Stylus for iPad, which is supposed to be one of the best styluses out there, on Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro, which is probably the best drawing app on the Android Market right now. Though both were good, no matter how long I tried to get used to it, I have found that using a stylus on a touchscreen just isn’t as pleasurable as it is using pen and paper.

It’s probably too much to ask for the stylus experience to be similar to what you get with a pen, I reckon, but it’s the precision and extra pressure you need to add that put me off. Want some proof? Here are my actual notes, taken with a stylus. Does this look legible to you?



Parts of my hand-writing aren’t so bad; some other parts look like hieroglyphs. If you own an iPad and have experienced something different, let me know in the comments. For me, no matter how much I try to like a stylus, it just doesn’t cut it for me.


As you can see here in my actual Logic class notes, another problem I’ve experienced is that if you’re focusing somewhat hard on making your notes legible, guess what, it’ll take you longer than usual and perhaps the professor will have moved on and erased the tidbit of information that was meant to copied quickly.

There are also problems when your tablet doesn’t actually support palm rejection or requires you to write really big and you have to keep zooming in and out. There have been some newer tablets that hold promise and seem to solve some of these problems, like the Noteslate (which seems to be vaporware), the HTC View and the Lenovo Thinkpad tablet. If you have these tablets, please share your experiences in the comments.


Now if we’re talking about a graphics tablet (like a 12’’ Cintiq), it might be a whole different ball game, but you’ll have to lug around both your laptop and the graphics tablet to school, and set up your little office during every single class, provided you have enough desk space…

There’s No Way To Sync Last-Read Points In Your Study Material


You like having your leisure books synced on the Kindle, Kobo, Google Books, etc. apps, right? Imagine having to study books and slides (especially PDF slides and Powerpoint presentations that professors use so much these days) and not having a way to sync these across your computer, tablet or phone. It becomes increasingly annoying when there are more and more instructors relying on these slideshows and there’s always a need to either print them out (countering the purpose of saving paper in the first place) or re-figure out again where it is that you last read.

This frustration is something I’ve personally experienced and perhaps is not well-founded since you could try to figure out a way to remember the last checkpoints in your collection of slides, but I just don’t see why e-books can be synced so easily nowadays, yet digital slides, online tutorials, etc, aren’t so easy to organize.


That’s why I appreciate ideas like IbisReader which allows you to upload PDF documents and read them on the web with any device, but until the project is optimized for bookmarking last-read pages and so forth, it’s just for the casual reader that’s not in school.

Yes, Benefits Do Exist

I’ve encountered some inconveniences as you can see, but there are more good sides of owning a laptop , tablet or smartphone.


Not only do tablets (and smartphones too!) make good clocks, they also are just lighter than a pile of textbooks of course, offer excellent battery life, are great e-readers (not for school), can be your personal planners, etc.

The point of this post isn’t to bash tablets or laptops. This rant is just my opinion of the current state of personal technology in schools. There are many ways to solve or remedy these concerns, but as of right now, the notion of having digital textbooks and using tablets for school is fraught with many problems. The transition to digitizing schoolwork is just fractured in many places because some are enthusiastic about the old ways, and others are ready to touch the future (on their tablets).

Agree or disagree? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

Image credit: karam Miri, Dmitry Lobanov, Digital Storm [Broken URL Removed], Olaf Speier

Related topics: Ebooks, Education Technology, Study Tips.

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  1. Surface Fan
    April 23, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Fast-Forward today, the Surface 3 is the best tablet to use for school! It's digitizer pen is better to write than a finger. Sadly, Apple still hasn't done better with their tablets.

  2. Secret
    February 2, 2015 at 3:55 am

    I agree school computers are terrible. I am in high school and all the school provided computers suck! They are way to slow, They glitch and are to restricted. What sucks even more is that the school knows they are not working but they still have rules like you must bring it to school, you must use it, You can't use your own or you get a detention. WHAT! It is easier to use your own because you've got everything there. Schools should really find out what students think of it so they know if it is helping. Plus we are paying $4000 a year to use these crappy tablets. I prefer using books. Not because of being a young old fashion person it is just easier.

  3. AjaanRob
    December 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Many programs to sync your notes like Zotero in Firefox and MS based Readcube plus many others on chrome os. As for ebooks, in general continued development will occur just as the same development will occur with stylus and tablets. Specific 'firewalls' could be in place if the G3/G4 is disabled or scrambled during exams. Shift toward ebook tablets vs Ipad usage could also limit cheating. You must face it, one can always 'cheat' any system in place, so that behavior will not change with the modality being used in assessment. It is just how to prevent the 'honest' ones from temptation. 

    Finally, I would like the Book Publishers to open up and create a ebook standardization. Currently all book publishers are fighting the direction of going 'paperless'...which is a losing position to be in. Yes, the smaller publishers may become extinct or the big Publishers failing to adapt may become fragmented over time, either way, I am for complete, free open access for research in all fields to assist in the global perspective in innovation and creativity.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      December 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion on using Zotero and Readcube.

  4. KAte
    November 24, 2011 at 4:41 am

    That said, I am also an aspiring fiction writer who, if I ever get published, will never allow my work to be "printed" in e-book form. There's something just sacred about the feel, the soul of a bound book that can't ever be captured in modern soulless machines.

    I may never be a billionairess like that B.S. sell-out J.K. Rowling-in-the-D'oh, but at least my words will be mine and never belong to the Internet.

  5. Kate
    November 24, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Whoa. Another point about technology in school: it makes dumb Luddites like me majoring in liberal arts seem stupid compared to the computer science majors with their fancy gizmos. I did textbook renting rather than buying the books straight out. I don't have too much faith that anyone would buy them back on Amazon, so in previous years I just sold it back to the store. For the life of me I can't figure out the textbook buyback thing, and the only person who could help me otherwise is my mom, who doesn't get anything -- and I mean anything -- about the computer, not at all.

    In the end, for me it was a matter of convenience and space. Either sit with a $100 anthology of the most boring short stories ever written that make waterboarding seem like a real joyride, knowing you'll never use it again, or rent it out of financial aid monies and save space in the house. Maybe I'm weird in that I went to community college and not a four-year university, but decided a Bachelor's was too much hassle and a PWOT in terms of getting a job.

    Kimberly, I too, have something of an LD, but it's dyscalculia (although I write slowly by hand, so maybe dysgraphia?). Dyscalculia basically means I'm a terrific writer who can't do math, not even the basics, or understand computers, and therefore my job prospects are basically nil anyway. (That's more than one percent, though, "amirite"?)

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      I haven't done online textbook buybacks either, but if you sell it back to the bookstore, that's still textbook buyback (it's just not online). Even if you sell them online, the prices the online store (e.g. Amazon) offer you are just as low as they'd offer at the store (which is why I don't do them). Apart from that, I think the online stores usually pay for shipping. 

      The way I get rid of my textbooks is through http://www.half.com. It's an eBay company that lets you set your own prices. I've sold many textbooks there. 

      With all of that, I still think textbook renting solves a lot of hassle. It might be a bit more expensive in some cases, but at least you don't have to be stuck with a textbook that you might or might not be able to sell later.

  6. Kimberly
    November 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I'm responding as an elementary teacher, advocate of technology in the classroom, and as a person with learning disabilities (dyslexia and dysgraphia). My dysgraphia is more of a problem than the dyslexia. 

    1. Why do professors have open book tests? That seems so well lazy teacherish. A professor at my university having an open book test would have been told in most situations to not let the door hit his/her rear end on the way out the door. I only had one open book test in 4 years of University. It was in a poli sci class. Basically we had 6 hours to write a very detailed research paper complete with citations. No amount of googling would have got you the right answers, unless you were purchasing a paper on line. Given the nature of the questions asked finding a paper that answered the questions would have been impossible. The questions referred to specific comments made by students during discussions. So basically if your professors' tests are so low level that answers could be found by googling - you have bad professors.

    2. For the first 5 or 6 years in my current district I would be told at workshops that I couldn't bring in my laptop. Their reasons were silly - you won't pay attention and that their presentation was copyrighted. Yea never got that last one. Each time my response was fine lets call HR and discuss Dysgrahia and the American's with Disabilities Act. Every time the district told them to stop being idiots of course I could use my laptop now tablet. 

    The rest of your argument is simply that today's tech isn't quite were it needs to be for your specialty - time will fix that. 

    To be blunt if I was at student at your school and was told I couldn't use an e-book, laptop, tablet, or other device I use to get around the glitch in my brain - the professor, administration, and I would be discussing accommodating people with LD's. The use of the these tools should be no more significant than someone using glasses or a hearing aide. 

    I wrote this blog post about this topic at the beginning of the school year. http://kherbert.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/i-would-rather-lose-my-glasses/ 

  7. Robin Ashe
    November 18, 2011 at 4:49 am

    I didn't run into any of these problems when I had a Windows XP Tablet Edition base Tablet PC. It used a Wacom digitiser with pen, so it was basically a 14" Cintiq built into a laptop. It worked fine for Uni. I took notes on it with Microsoft OneNote, since it was a convertible I typed up notes when I had to be fast, and wrote them when diagrams were necessary. The built in handwriting recognition solved a lot of the legibility problems too.There were no e-textbooks at the time, so the open book test issue never cropped up for me, and it doesn't sound like something easy to solve. Not to mention, you want the added speed of being able to flip to the page where you know the info is. I'd say the problem really is that Apple made it all about getting away from the stylus. That's not useful for notetaking or any sort of productiity. It's great for games, and that's why the iPhone an iPad have been such hits.
    If we're lucky some tablets will come out with Wacom digitisers to use a pen properly, rather than the hack job on iPads and Android tablets (and likely more than a few Windows 8 tablets). It's no longer a concern for me as I'm long done with Uni, but the key is to look at what the XP Tablet PCs got right. 

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 6:06 am

      Tablets with Wacom digitizers that aren't only for artistic purposes sound fantastic.

      The thing is, I've seen iPad owners write notes with a stylus, so I'd ask them if it worked well for them. I remember one individual actually told me he had been doing it for at least two semesters (taking digital notes only).

      When I tried it on an Android tablet, it went OK, but not as good as I had hoped. Thus, the list of concerns I listed on this article.

      But I'm glad your tablet PC worked wonders for you. I keep hearing good feedback about OneNote on tablet PCs so I'll keep that in mind next time I make a computer purchase.

  8. Jessica Cam W.
    November 18, 2011 at 1:47 am

    That's a very good point you're bringing up! Later on, kids will appreciate it as college courses often ask them to think on their own.

  9. SmpCtryPhys
    November 18, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Respectfully, two of the four points fail to be expressed. This leads to the hypothesis that the problem is at least partly the author and not the instrumentality

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 6:14 am

      Could you elaborate on which two points those were?

      The concerns I listed here are part of a rant where tablets didn't get the results I wanted. Perhaps I had set my expectations a bit high.

      But my point for this post is that while touch-screen devices are the technologies of the future (e.g. tablets will probably replace textbooks), at this point in which some individuals have tablets and some don't, there's a lot to do to bridge the gap and ease the transition to switching to digital textbooks.

  10. Meredith
    November 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Wonderful post! The "all-in-oneness" of mobile tech is certainly alluring, but perhaps at this point, without the proper optimizations for note-taking and multimedia, synced bookmarking, we're trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Clearly, students don't have time to spend trying to make their notes legible and instead should easily keep notes while they internalize content - thus is the benefit of compounding audio (lecture), kinesthetic (note-taking), and visual (reading notes) learning styles. No doubt tech will continually advance, but in the meantime, people tend gravitate to practices that facilitate their end goal; in this case, hand-written notes are simply a better option. As you mentioned, at this point the visual/image components of tech devices and their collaborative capacity seem more promising in enhancing learning. I'll have to keep thinking about this one... thanks for starting the discussion!

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 5:58 am

      Thank you for the comment and the message! I really appreciate it!

      The point of my rant was to simply point out that there have been 'early adopters' of tablets in schools, but since a lot of people haven't gone beyond using their laptops, it's not so easy for early adopters to fully take advantage of their devices.

      In the future, that might certainly change since there's already praise of touch-screen technologies and tablets as being the textbooks of the future, but right now, there's more fragmentation along school lines when it comes to these devices. Laptops are still widely used.

      I think it'd help somewhat if schools established a policy of either all students using tablets or none. That way, no student will be at disadvantaged.

  11. Claire
    November 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    One final comment -- I am appalled that textbook publishers released textbooks without verifying that the symbol font, etc. would display properly. 
    Actually, I find it somewhat hard to believe. Do people still know that if you change the font of a document, special symbols will often not display properly? Most e-readers let you change the fonts. Is the display of erroneous symbols a fault of the textbook, or has the student set a font preference that is overriding the font specified in the textbook?In that case, the publisher is still somewhat at fault -- either the fonts need to be non-overrideable, or there needs to be a large warning on the file that tells you not to change the fonts. 

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 5:49 am

      I'm not sure if my classmate changed the font or what.

      All I know is that he asked the professor what that rectangle symbol meant, which then got my professor equally confused so he had to bring up the issue in class. We then realized that the little rectangle was supposed to be a logic symbol, which isn't really on a regular keyboard.

      It was a bit hilarious at the time, but now I still cannot believe the publisher didn't catch that. Maybe it was an isolated case.

  12. Claire
    November 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Yes, the teachers and administration need to adapt to an information-rich environment, in which the problem is not to find the information so much as to evaluate it. 
    Education today needs to be, more than ever, the teaching of critical thinking rather than just information. I used to teach an "Introduction to the interner" course -- laughable by today's standards -- but one good part of it was learning to evaluate search strategies. We also would put the same search terms into different search engines, to see how the different engines yielded different results. 
    However -- nearly all the criticisms listed above had an analogue in the pre-computer era.  Teachers have always started to erase the board before everyone had everything copied down.  Deciphering quickly-jotted notes is an old problem. At least kids CAN bring their textbooks to class; that was rarely done when I was in college (carrying multiple tomes across a large campus was impractical). I haven't yet seen an e-reader program that doesn't allow bookmarking, so I'm not sure where that complaint comes from. 
    Oh yes, and as far as open-book exams are concerned -- there are several fixes. An easy one is to simply to run an interference box in the testing room, so neither wifi nor phone service will operate. Or, you can define "open book" as "real world resources" and simply allow the students to use whatever resources they can access. The challenge is to create an appropriate test. Since the test is time-limited, a deluge of information does not necessarily make it easier to solve a problem.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 5:53 am

      The issue with the bookmark was that the PDF slides on the tablet will have the bookmark, but if you want to look at them on the computer, you need to figure out a way so they'll stay in sync.

      Syncing isn't implemented in a PDF reader unfortunately, unlike an Amazon Kindle, Kobo, etc. account. You have to rely on a third-party syncing app like Dropbox or SugarSync. There's just not a good student portal that can do all that (yet).

  13. Stephen Rice
    November 17, 2011 at 7:10 am

    What is a media specialist at a middle school, exactly? I'm just trying to gauge what their role is.

  14. Elijah Swartz
    November 17, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Just download Calibre(free program), convert the format of the book to something like a .pdf and print all the files you want from a computer.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 5:43 am

      Thanks for the Calibre reminder. It is quite a great program. As far as printing goes, I think it'd be a shame to have to print the file when the purpose of having an e-book is to save paper. But in some cases, it might be the better solution.

  15. Emily K
    November 17, 2011 at 4:27 am

    I certainly understand the textbooks hassel, it's defenitely much more worthwhile to just buy the hard copy, but I strongly believe in taking notes with tablets/laptops. 
    You havent actually brought up the issue of tablet laptops, something which i wouldnt be able to study without (mine is an hp tm2t). I find that my handwriting is much neater and with the pen sensitivity the precision is basically there also, and then when I'm in more theoretical classes like economics or computer science I can switch to typing, which is much faster and simpler for most people. I also find reading through ink-to-text converted notes for any errors is also great review.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 5:21 am

      I used to have the HP Pavillion tx2500! I think it's the predecessor to your model. I didn't fully take advantage of OneNote though as I found it awkward sometimes to draw on the screen, plus the screen glass broke before I could keep loving the little machine.

      Thanks for sharing your note-taking process! I love to hear feedback like this and knowing how others make use of technology when studying.

  16. Amy Kinard
    November 17, 2011 at 4:01 am

    When I was in nursing school, I took my notes on my laptop with OneNote. It was the best of both worlds, I type faster than I write, had a stylus for sketches and highlighting the powerpoint handouts- that the professors made available online- AND I had an audio recording of the lecture that was *synced up* to what I was typing or where I was scrolling when it was said! So I could click a part of my notes I didn't understand and hear just that part of the lecture- which was AWESOME for comprehension AND made up for when I missed something.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 1:52 am

      Genius system! I didn't know that OneNote was such an excellent product!

      One question though: Were you using a tablet PC or a regular laptop with a graphics tablet?

  17. Amy Kinard
    November 17, 2011 at 3:57 am

    I agree. The type of exam that lends itself to open book shouldn't be a fact recall test anyway. It should be an "explain how you would do x and why that way works". Or "which would you do first in this situation and why". Or "explain the cultural and economic reasons why this war started when it did and how changing which one of these factors of your choice, this conflict could have been avoided"- had to throw the bone to the non-science majors.  
    I'm thinking of my organic chemistry exams where the professor let us bring our class notes on the basic reactions. The exam would then be thirty step synthesis problems- show your work. Google wouldn't help me cheat, but if I had created my notes in the form of a PDF that happened to be on an e-reader... might have at least kept pages from falling out of that old overstuffed binder- and been searchable. I still have nightmares and it was years and years ago- and I couldn't ever bring myself to throw "my bible" out. :-)

    • Stephen Rice
      November 17, 2011 at 7:06 am

      I agree with you about the sort of questions that are better as open book exams. I still think that I've sat a number of open book professional exams that asked "what you would do in x situation" where x is something that professionals in my field need to be able to deal with. A quick google for "what would you do in x situation" would have been extremely helpful at giving me an answer that didn't necessarily reflect that I knew what I was talking about. Google is excellent at finding lists of facts but that's  not all that's out there.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 1:49 am

      Good God, I remember those synthesis questions. I'm glad I'm not doing those anymore!

      And I still have boxes full of paper notes from my previous classes, just like your 'bible'! Can't get myself to throw them either!

  18. Anonymous
    November 17, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Your first problem is that you're using toys like ipads and android tablets. Get yourself a 12"+ Windows 7 tablet with an active digitizer stylus. Under 12" is smaller than a regular piece of paper so it's already awkward to read and write on. 

    If you're using Windows you don't have to worry about "apps" that can almost do what you want them to do, you can use the actual program the apps are trying to copy. Win7 isn't as finger friendly as Android and iOS, but MS Office Onenote is possibly enough of a reason for students to use Win7 all by itself. I use an Asus ep121 Slate and the person who sits next to me uses a Lenovo Thinkpad X220 which converts from laptop to tablet. It's not perfect (what is?), but it saves me from having to deal with reams of paper notes and it's searchable. Plus, both devices have wacom style styluses along with their touch screens and they can recognize them as different so I can use my fingers to zoom or move the page and leave the writing to the stylus. Also, some programs allow the reverse end of my stylus to act like an eraser.

    • puzzler995
      November 17, 2011 at 4:04 am

      Some of the major "apps" that are similar to OneNote aren't trying to copy it. Take for example Evernote. It started as a desktop app, and added mobile interfaces, which includes iOS and Android. She's trying to use a drawing app to write... not the best idea...

      • Anonymous
        November 17, 2011 at 4:33 am

        There are definitely some apps, like Evernote, which were built for their own purposes. Evernote is handy for lightweight note taking and it has the advantage of working with my Android phone, unlike OneNote. 

        It's just that ever since people decided that they were going to try to use smartphone OSes to try and be productive there have been all these apps which are bad imitations of desktop software. The big 3 of Office (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) are where I've seen the worst cases. I don't think OneNote is popular enough to really have copycats. Which is a shame because it could probably benefit from some competition. There are a still few edges that need to be smoothed out.

      • Jessica Cam W.
        November 18, 2011 at 1:36 am

        If you've tried the Sketchbook drawing app, you'll notice you get much more control with your strokes. That's why I preferred it to using Evernote on my Android tablet, which I'm not saying is bad. Its integration with Skitch is genius, but Sketchbook Pro, the writing/drawing experience was finer.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 1:33 am

      I actually used to own an HP tx2500 tablet PC for note-taking, though I didn't know about all the benefits of OneNote back then. Everyone talks about the usefulness of OneNote, it makes me wish I had used it!

      That tablet PC was just very heavy (I think it was like 4.5 pounds) for me to carry since I also carried my textbooks in my backpack. That's why I resorted to a cool little Android tablet. But I agree, using the tablet PC for note-taking felt like a dream.

  19. Mahesh RS
    November 17, 2011 at 3:52 am

    I would say this:

    1. Yes, there are problems with the way ebooks are rendered currently. But, I am sure that we will overcome those issues soon. We just need a new ebook format (plain old HTML isn't bad).

    2. Yes, there are problems with the way you can annotate your books "currently." But, again, considering the pace of technological changes, I am sure we will overcome those issues soon enough.

    3. About students cheating ... i guess we need a change of attitude. What was black-n-white so far has now moved into the gray area. So, professors will have to change their attitudes towards how they evaluate their students. This is also a great opportunity for innovation ... although I can't think of any specific solution to it right now. :)

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 1:27 am

      Mahesh, I'm sure some e-textbooks are rendered correctly. It was my classmate's Kindle textbook that had the little rectangle hiding a recognizable symbol that shocked me. He was asking the professor what in the world that symbol meant, and since the professor had no idea why that was there, he brought it to everyone's attention in class. Maybe it was just that e-book.

      With regards to your second point, some of the commenters below have pointed out that OneNote worked well on tablet PCs. I haven't seen such a product on Android tablets though.

      3. I guess one solution could be to implement an all-or-nothing policy: Either everyone gets e-textbooks or no one does. If a few have tablets while most don't, things just don't go so smoothly because some might get unfair treatment.

  20. Bradstreet Rand
    November 17, 2011 at 2:11 am

    "You could also simply Google the answer."
    That's the biggest reason our education system needs to change!!!

    There are entire websites dedicated to the "common sense" of Googling the answer.  We need to teach our kids how to properly use search engines and what to do with the data and information they find.

    • Kyle Taylor
      November 17, 2011 at 4:42 am

      At our college, a few of us had a serious conversation about making and teaching a "Google 101" class. A lot of people either don't know how to search to find the right information, or they don't know what to do with it. I can't help but agree with this more!

      • Sarah K.
        November 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

        For a "Google 101" class, you might check with your local college library. They often cleverly (or not so cleverly) disguise classes/workshops like that as "information literacy" workshops, or "how to do research," etc., & also help you learn to use the research resource sites they subscribe to that Google doesn't have access to.

        • Kyle Taylor
          November 29, 2011 at 7:06 am

          This is true, but to me I think it is particularly major specific. For instance, I'm a computer science major. If I need to write a paper on the future of automota theory or the introduction of IPv6, I probably don't need access to these resources because they're probably lacking the type of content I'm looking for. But, I would understand if someone were a history or English major, these resources would come in handy.

          In computer science, the professors reiterate to not reinvent the wheel. A lot of students just don't know how to find the blueprints of the wheel to innovate it.

  21. Marte
    November 17, 2011 at 2:09 am

    I graduated from college in 1972 when the only computer on campus took up a whole room and ate punch cards. I always laugh at stories like this.  :)

    • Stephen Rice
      November 17, 2011 at 7:20 am

      Was it bad for taking notes too?

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 18, 2011 at 1:19 am

      Haha, well, I'm glad you at least found it amusing. :) My little fail stories may seem like petty concerns considering how much progress there's been with technology but they're genuine concerns! ;)