More and more schools worldwide are deciding to utilize tablets and e-textbooks instead of traditional textbooks. Some contest it’s the way of the future and it’s inevitable since children are now being reared in a digital world. Let’s take a close look at the pros and cons of this technological tool on education.
Easier To Carry
With tablets gone will be the days, where little students have to lug backpacks filled with heavy textbooks every morning. However with tablets, countless words and multiple ‘books’ are all conveniently stored in one lightweight pad. The contents in a single tablet can be larger than that of a school library. There are also environmental advantages as well since no paper is used with ebooks.
Dynamic & Interactive Learning
Tablets are much more interactive and dynamic than traditional textbooks. With videos, infographics and a variety of applications, students are able to absorb information in a more effective manner. Research has shown the usage of tablets in classrooms are correlated with improved test scores and attendance. Students are much more engaged in learning than traditional textbooks.
Up To Date Content
It can be more cumbersome with more lengthy difficult processes to go through when you print new information on new editions of textbooks. There might also be confusion among parents or students about which edition is which. However, with a tablet the most relevant and latest content can be added into their tablets with the simple click of an update button. More than that, if there is confusion about a particular topic, students can even look up the information themselves to get the answer.
More Reactive & Personalized Learning
Tablets have the advantage of providing instantaneous feedback. For example, students will have quizzes and test marked in applications within seconds. This helps them know their strengths and weaknesses quicker. Futhermore, data gathered can be analysed to determine what is effective or enjoyable. Some software applications can retain information like student’s performance and produce individualized learning programmes based on that data.
Inconvenient For Poorer Families
Students in poorer and more rural regions may be inconvenienced by tablets and e-books by a number of factors. Namely lack of internet and electrical access, students will need electricity to charge their tablets everyday while also requiring good internet to download new textbooks and notes. This will undoubtedly put a burden on less well off families.
More Easily Broken
Having everything in one place might be convenient but on the other hand it could also be dangerous. Tablets are fragile and with an accidental drop students even teenagers can be careless with these things. Since they are more valuable than paper, there is a chance that they may be stolen or robbed from students too.
Without proper filtering and blocking tools, students may access irrelevant or inappropriate content during class. There is more temptation for students to give in to the wide array of things you can do on tablets rather than just follow the lesson. Whether it’s social media, videos, or games, there will be a risk that students will be using that instead.
Possible Health Effects
Experts believe that use of digital devices such as tablets contribute to Computer Vision Syndrome, which causes eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes. This is because tablets are usually held close and shows pixilated images. Hence, these two factors cause our eyes to shift in and out of focus which weakens the eye’s focusing muscle. Rates of increased myopia have been associated with increased use of digital devices. However, it is not so much the negative effect of bluelight but more because the lack of sunlight children get when they stay indoors.
Should Tablets Replace Textbooks?
To many right now, the pros outweighs the cons significantly. With proper infrastructure and support, tablets can be a very effective and powerful learning tool. But what about textbooks? What are their advantages?
Right now, there is also some evidence to suggest that print actually allows better comprehension. This is because scrolling may actually have a disruptive effect on comprehension. It was also because students tend to read faster but less deeply with digital text.
Paper textbooks allow for better handwritten note-taking. As noted in our handwriting vs typing article, writing notes by hand is associated with a number of advantages including better comprehension and retention of information, stronger conceptual learning and higher focus. Basically this is because writing requires more focus and you think over the content you write and process it more deeply.
For more information about the various new technologies introduced to the classroom, read our article on learning in the new age.