"I would joke with my students that they could buy all the Harry Potter books for that price and learn more from those than from the textbook." Bret Hovell, a spokesman for the university, says that the majority of the professors in the economics department felt the new tools were an advance that did more than just let students turn in answers that could have been submitted by email or the learning-management system.
And with so many students taking these introductory courses, he adds that it is important that they “make sure that everyone is having to do the same stuff” so they are ready for the courses that require Econ 211 or 212 as a prerequisite.
Even though she didn’t read the related text, she says she used the internet to learn the material and churned through the entire semester’s worth of homework before the two weeks were up, so she didn’t have to pay the fee. A few years ago, a Buzz Feed News article featured students at other universities angry that they had to pay to turn in homework.
One student interviewed said the $100 fee for a homework system was more than she could afford when the semester started, so she just skipped assignments and was forced to take zeros for homework until she could afford to pay. But as a scared freshman looking at their grades, it’s not fun,” the student said.
For Wright, the student at ASU, one solution has been to take advantage of a two-week trial period offered by many textbook companies.
In an accounting course she is taking, the student says she was assigned a digital homework system and she activated the two-week trial just before the course started.
“I can’t believe someone finally spoke out about it,” says Wright.
“I look up a lot of things I need to know, and it’s right there on Google for free, or you can find videos on how to do it.
That raises the question: is the move to digital homework systems creating a new kind of digital divide at colleges?
Textbook companies defend their new model, arguing that digital titles help students learn better than past methods and are sold for far less than traditional textbooks.