CliffsNotes App can make it so easy for students to avoid reading the classics

CliffsNotes To Go available through iTunes -- just 99 cents per title

The last time I saw CliffsNotes, I was teaching high school English.

CliffsNotes were the yellow and black booklets that were designed to help students gain the information needed about a novel in order to pass a test or write an essay without having to actually read the book itself.

I lost track of CliffsNotes when I joined the Journalism Department at the University of Florida. [Not that undergraduate and graduate students don’t have ways to cut corners in their communications courses — but that is a post for another day.]

Today I was reintroducted to CliffsNotes when I checked out the new iPad. I immediately recognized the CliffsNotes App on the iPad’s user-friendly screen.

CliffsNotes definitely has been keeping up with the advances in technology. Students eager to save time involved in “reading” a novel can purchase a CliffsNotes App on iTunes, paying 99 cents for the novel’s study resources. Those resources include chapter summaries, a list of characters and a character map, and sample test questions.

The digital version enables the student to develop a Cram Plan, determining the approach to the content based on the amount of time the student has to, well, cram the book’s contents.

The CliffsNotes App on the iPad was “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. I must say that I was a Ray Bradbury fan as a high school and college student, reading many of his short stories and novels. Note that I said that I read them.

For just 99 cents, about the same cost as one soft drink, a student can download any one of dozens of the classics.

But drinking in the characters, the plot development and the themes of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Beowulf” or “Jane Eyre” just isn’t the same when gulped with a Cram Plan as when sipped with the page turning of reading the novel itself, whether the hard cover, paperback or digital version.

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