Learning Sources: Internet or Books?

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  • #1
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How do you learn new material (internet or books) for courses? Would you think that an individual would learn more efficiently using the internet instead of using books?
 

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  • #2
The internet is a mile wide and an inch deep. Stick to the books.
 
  • #3
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Why not use them both? I am currently learning calculus mainly through a university level textbook (I am in sr.high) but also refer to calculus lectures on the net. I find that there simply is not enough information on most material on the internet to learn a subject in it's entirety, so interested learner's metaphor stands, I suppose.

In my oppinion, books should be your primary tool for learning information, and the internet should be used as an enrichment tool.
 
  • #4
JasonRox
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interested_learner said:
The internet is a mile wide and an inch deep. Stick to the books.
Well said.
 
  • #5
Importantly -- note the internet is usually self-monitored (for the most part). Very few internet sources are peer-reviewed (a few online journals from professional societies are, but that is recent). You can somewhat trust a site that has good grammer, good formatting, or better yet, cites some non-net sources... but do you know who wrote that web-site? Can you cite them... really? will that website be there tomorrow, would you be able to find it again if requested? Some sites, like American Physical Society/ American Chemical Society/ etc. journal sites will be... but then those are sources that also exist as print. So while there is something to be said for quick-look-up and accessibility, for general material, such as calc, you might use the net to get a hint on an area... but be sure to then look it up in a reliable/citable source once you get that hint.
 
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  • #6
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I think I go by the old saying: "a person who doesn't read books has no advantage over the one who can't." Although I don't think it's particularly applicable here; it's still a good saying! My point is: books are superior to the internet in this regard. I'll use the internet to gather history and general information about a certain topic, or look for some afterthoughts, etc. But I'll use a book to actually learn the topic.
 
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  • #7
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Actually, one of the things that I've found the internet most useful for is deciding *which* books I need to be reading!
 
  • #8
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For a course, I would say the book that is required for the course. Now if you are fortunate enough to have an incredible lecturer, then his/her notes will be better than any book. Regardless, you should use both when trying to learn the material taught in a course, the notes and the book.
 
  • #9
I think the internet is better: more information and greater depth.
 
  • #10
ZapperZ
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I think the internet is better: more information and greater depth.
Would you like to show some proof to back this up? For example, show me an internet site on superconductivity that has "more information and greater depth" than, let's say, Michael Tinkham's classic text.

Zz.
 
  • #11
http://arturo.fi.infn.it/casalbuoni/barcellona.pdf [Broken]
 
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  • #12
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Wikipedia's bound to come up on a topic like this, so I'll just address it now. I understand the controversy surrounding Wikipedia and its potential lack of accuracy; however, it's been said many times here that it can be of high quality. I personally find Wikipedia helpful through its style of words, most of all. The way the authors/editors write/revise the material, in my opinion, is very successful and makes the material more enjoyable to read. My primary learning of calculus has come from my text, as it always will be, but some enrichment certainly comes from Wikipedia and similar sites. I find that a lot of sites have organizational problems that Wikipedia prides itself on not having.

Sticking to books for primary resources seems to be my preference, though, as well.
 
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  • #13
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Check your College's website, and maybe the sites of some math professors. My Diff Eq professor had some really helpful PDFs and a few links to various websites.

However, during finals, I went and checked out 4 different books on differential equations at the library as another supplement. (Still haven't found a diff eq book that I really liked...)
 
  • #14
ZapperZ
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http://arturo.fi.infn.it/casalbuoni/barcellona.pdf [Broken]
This is a good DOCUMENT, but would this qualify as an "internet source"? I mean I could also put Tinkham's book online and then claim that it is an internet source that is refered to in the OP? I don't think so.

There are many books that have been released online - they are still books. Internet sources are webpages made to deciminate info.

BTW, I still don't think this document you gave has "more information and greater depth" than Tinkham's text. Someone studying the BCS theory for the first time, for example, would be LOST! A "lecture note" doesn't provide the same pedogigal detail as a well-thought out book. Tinkham dealt with the BCS theory using two separate methods - field theory AND variational method. There is a wealth of physical explanation on why it is necessary to know both in the text. This is just one reason why it has become such a classic text AND also cited in physics publications.

If I were to compare your "internet souce" and Tinkham's book, I would still recommend the latter.

Zz.
 
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  • #15
verty
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Books are usually biased; people are more likely to say biased things in a book where no opposing voices are heard, than in a public forum. Therefore I typically prefer anthologies in subjects where bias matters so that one gets different views. Of course, anthologies can also be biased, but that's what reviews are for.
 
  • #16
ZapperZ
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Books are usually biased; people are more likely to say biased things in a book where no opposing voices are heard, than in a public forum. Therefore I typically prefer anthologies in subjects where bias matters so that one gets different views. Of course, anthologies can also be biased, but that's what reviews are for.
So you would rather learn about intro mechanics from an open forum like this? Are you serious?

Zz.
 
  • #17
I guess what I meant about internet sources is any document (including books) on the internet. My argument is that one can easily say study physics, and then switch to studying probability theory. Whereas if one was studying from a physics book, and wanted to study probability theory, he would have to go buy the book or check it out from the library. So I think internet sources allow for one to learn different subjects at the same time (i.e. multi-task).
 
  • #18
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guess what I meant about internet sources is any document (including books) on the internet. My argument is that one can easily say study physics, and then switch to studying probability theory. Whereas if one was studying from a physics book, and wanted to study probability theory, he would have to go buy the book or check it out from the library. So I think internet sources allow for one to learn different subjects at the same time (i.e. multi-task).
I agree with sherlockjones. While books will give you more indepth coverage like you said ZapperZ if you want a quick reference or arn't sure on a certain defintion whether it be math or physics you can quickly look online and find examples of this defintion being applied.

But of course I wouldn't trust the internet over a book a class recommends you buy. But the internet is a nice compliment to the book. For instance, if i didn't have this website to help me understand what the book is saying somtimes i'd be in trouble. All these posts are questions :)

I find the internet really useful with programming as well. You can read a book all you want but for me, looking at the code at work really helps me get an understanding of whats going on.
 
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  • #19
ZapperZ
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Remember, this isn't an argument about using the internet, or even about checking up on things quickly. I do that all the time myself. My argument here is about sherlockjones claim that one can actually get detailed and indepth sources from the net MORE than textbooks. This is what I disputed. So we need to be clear on what the issues are here because I do not want to fight this on several different fronts that I did not argue against.

As for allowing one to study different "subjects" quickly and easily, I am quite confused about something. WHO is doing the studying? If you're in school, then your school has a set of recommended/required texts. Presumably, the instructor or some committee has carefully selected the texts that are appropriate to be used for a particular class. In many cases, these texts are NOT available online and so, one has to obtain these somehow. Are you claiming that you would still refuse to use such a texts simply because you don't feel like buying them? You'd rather use some unverified and unapproved "text" that you found online as your primary source? Am I the only one who thinks that this is utterly strange?

I would never, ever use that source you listed if I was about to study superconductivity. It isn't suitable for someone who has never studied it before, meaning it did not go into the proper depth of explanation, and it went almost immediately into the field-theoretic method. Instructors, when choosing a text for a class, has to balance between the material content AND the pedogogical presentation of the material. That's why Halliday and Resnick text underwent such huge amount of rewrites and edition to improve not only on its content, but also PRESENTATION! So even IF you can find a valid source, it doesn't mean it is an APPROPRIATE source.

Or maybe you have a different scenario in mind, such as someone doing an independent study perhaps? Then I'd say that that person, since he/she obviously do not know the material and do not know what's valid, has MORE of a need to seek reputable sources than someone who only needs to find some clarification of something. If I were that person, how am I supposed to know that such-and-such a source that I found on the web is reliable, valid, and correct? I would tend to look at what schools use as their texts and use those!

That's why I criticize the making of a blanket statement that internet sources are more detailed and indepth than textbooks. I've yet to see one that isn't itself a textbook.

Zz.
 
  • #20
I concede defeat.

The internet is also distracting, when trying to learn something new.

But lets say you had Tinkham's text in a pdf file. Would you still say that it would be better to get a hardback copy of it? In other words, do you prefer learning from a book or a pdf file if the material is the same?
 
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  • #21
I personally would suggest the textbook option, save your eyes. :tongue2:.
 
  • #22
marcusl
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I also prefer hardcover, and as painful as it is I put my money where my mouth (or eyes) are. I downloaded the draft pdf of Carl Meyer's book "Matrix Analysis and Applied Linear Algebra," for instance. He had put it online prior to publication to collect comments and errata. I decided I liked it and bought a hard copy when it came out, even though the final published version was also available online. I continue to use the harcopy even though the book came with a CD containing a searchable pdf version of itself. Looking at a screen, scrolling and clicking just isn't as comfortable to me as reading a book.
 
  • #23
verty
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"Books are usually biased; people are more likely to say biased things in a book where no opposing voices are heard, than in a public forum. Therefore I typically prefer anthologies..."

So you would rather learn about intro mechanics from an open forum like this? Are you serious?
I didn't say that. I said I find books to be biased, more biased than public forums. That I do. So when reading a book, I try to keep in mind that the person might be saying something that others would have disagreed with.

I didn't mean to suggest that public forums are a substitute for books. I use books. Depending on the subject, I prefer anthologies. Obviously you wouldn't find an anthology of intro mechanics, but for instance you might find an anthology of mathematical logic or whatever. I was justifying my prefences within the scope of books and my approach to reading them.

I disagree with Sherlock Jones' former position.

As for an online book versus a normal book, you can resell a normal book so it does seem preferable.
 
  • #24
ZapperZ
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Online public forums less "bias" than books.... How you are able to quantify something like that is beyond me.

Zz.
 
  • #25
radou
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The only thing I find irritating about learning from pdf-s which I download is the continuous scrolling up and scrolling down, since one often has to go back to certain points in the text and jump forward again. For some reason, I find this very uncomfortable, so, if it's some material which is important, I rather learn from a book/printed version of the text.

But the internet is an amazing resource, which, in combination with the facts above, implies that I'd kill for a good laser jet. :biggrin:
 

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