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Mace & Crown | December 17, 2017

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Is the online textbook a benefit or a scam?

Daija Marrow | Contributing Writer

Many universities have been subjected to the monopoly known as McGraw-Hill for decades. Recently, a new, money-draining disaster has come about. If you aren’t aware of the new book finding it’s way into science and history classes, it’s an online textbook and tool designed to help students better their studies. This is the description that is fed to students upon being told that they will be forced to use it.

On the first week of classes, a representative from McGraw-Hill takes up 30-45 minutes of a class period to teach the students how to use it. Some of the helpful aspects that are emphasized is the highlight tool and the dimming of the text. If the information is not necessary for the student to know, it will be dimmed out, giving the student the opportunity to skip it and continue with important content.

During this reading, the student will be required to complete quizzes up to 40 questions long, and are graded upon completion. The book also has a search bar that allows the student to search it in its entirety with a single word. These benefits appear to be overall helpful, but its disadvantages are gaping.

University textbooks are heavy, bulky masses of discomfort for students. McGraw Hill Connect supposedly solves this problem with activation codes. Students purchase the code, ranging from $150.00 to $270.00 at the least, depending on the course and how long the code will be used. It is impossible for students to buy a pre-owned code nor can it be passed down, so the only option is McGraw Hill’s steep pricing.

After the student purchases this tool, it is programmed to expire at the end of the semester. The code will not be reusable and all of the content vanishes. Purchasing a physical copy of the textbook is possible, but it’s a more expensive option and still requires the code, so reselling the book is redundant since professors are required to give assignments through the McGraw Hill website.

Most professors in this technological era are at least 50 years old and are being thrown into the electronic requirement that is online textbooks. Along with their traditional teaching methods, they must implement McGraw Hill Connect lessons into their own. It is highly unlikely that a professor reads these books, so they need to conform and accept the content that the students are given.

This is something that can’t be done with confidence. Since this online book gives the option to block out certain material and retake the quiz until a one hundred is scored, it is not focused on teaching the student, but on memorization in hopes that the student will get an A.

The McGraw Hill Connect team boasts that students who have used this tool received a higher pass rate, but it’s lessons are based on the hopes that the student can finish the lengthy quizzes, not on if the student has actually learned the material.

These facts feed into the truth that McGraw Hill has recently begun losing money because of its competitors. As of recent years, websites such as Slugbooks, Amazon, Chegg and eBay have popped up, making it easy for students to purchase pre-owned books at lower prices. This lowers profits of the print business.

It is argued that this is being done to save trees, but if that were the case, the codes given by McGraw Hill would not have expiration dates. The company is one of the few that offers an online resource to students. By merging this into mandatory class activity, it has found a way to monopolize the textbook print industry, forcing the students to pay high prices.