CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This school year, Mingo Central High School swiftly changed gears into 21st century learning.In addition to becoming a paperless school by utilizing technologies such as laptops for every student and interactive white boards in every classroom, the school introduced online textbooks at the beginning of the year. The only e-textbooks currently registered at the school are for social studies, but a larger variety may become available in the near future.Joseph Hunt, a history teacher and the school's textbook coordinator, said, "The online books have had a rough start, but their future looks bright."Student opinion has been mixed.Freshman Molli Ferguson said, "I like the e-textbooks a lot because I spend most of my time online anyway.""I really dislike them," said freshman William Collins. "I prefer a printed textbook to an online one because there are fewer technical difficulties."Technical difficulties that have been experienced include Internet failure, forgotten passwords and broken laptops.
Faith Hensley, a sophomore student council member, said, "I would much rather use paper textbooks, even if I had to carry them. All of the online tests from the book are computer generated and precise in the questions, making them harder to answer.""The paper textbooks are simple and easier," said junior Angela Blackburn."[The e-textbooks] are helpful, but I miss the old books," said junior Amber Thaxton, an honors history student.Not only does the textbook website provide the educational material, but it also offers homework help and test prep and gives students a lighter load to carry to and from home every day. The books are accessible through any computer with an Internet connection, so if students have an issue with their assigned laptop, their books are still available.The books also work on tablets and other mobile devices for studying on the go. The site aids in career and college readiness, including ACT or SAT prep and college information.Some drawbacks include technical glitches and lack of a home Internet connection for some students. Another issue for students using the e-books is the transition from studying with paper books to the new books.Despite their shortcomings, e-textbooks are yet another way of displaying how innovative schools in the area are becoming, and they lead the way for even more technological advances in the future.