The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Amid Rising Tuition, Winthrop Spends Thousands on Gimmick

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Winthrop University spent $14,000, mostly from student fees, for 18 Kindle DXs, given to students in a Human Experience course. Student response has been less than overwhelming.

Winthrop University is at the forefront of South Carolina public institutions experimenting with e-book devices and, not coincidently, Winthrop students are at the forefront of undergrads not overly thrilled with the trial run.

Winthrop spent $14,000, mostly from student fees, for 18 Kindle DXs, which were given to 18 students in a Winthrop Human Experience course at the start of the semester in August. 

In addition to the Kindle DX, Amazon’s newest e-reader, the devices came loaded with the syllabus, textbook and assigned readings.

The experiment has been met with disdain among Winthrop students, according to an article in the Rock Hill Herald.

“There’s got to be someone in here who doesn’t hate it,” asked Mark Herring, Winthrop University’s dean of library services.

“Where?” a student said.

The class laughed.

“I don’t really like it,” senior Cindy Satta said after class. “We used to highlight things we read, especially with complicated texts. We can’t do that now.”

And Satta prefers leafing through paper pages over fumbling with the Kindle key pad. But, she added, it was nice not having to buy a book.

The novelty seems especially impractical given the rising cost of higher education in South Carolina. This summer, Winthrop’s board of trustees voted to hike tuition to $5,803 per semester, a 4 percent increase.

Over the past decade, in-state tuition costs at Winthrop have increased 172 percent, from $4,262 to $11,606, according to the S.C. Commission on Higher Education.

True, $14,000 might seem like a drop in the bucket when one considers the overall size of Winthrop’s budget, but try telling that to the students and parents of students who year after year have to face increasing tuition bills.

Winthrop isn’t the only public institution in South Carolina to make an ill-advised foray into e-book technology, as the Policy Council pointed out in a report earlier this month.

Indeed, the school would have been better off waiting until some of the bugs were worked out before shelling out student funds for an unproven gimmick, particularly given the state of higher education economics in South Carolina.


Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

October 12, 2009 at 4:22 pm

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  1. […] The Palmetto Insider | Amid Rising Tuition, Winthrop Spends Thousands on Gimmick […]

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