BY ELENA VALDEZ
Online textbooks are more convenient, but that does not mean that they are more effective.
Online textbooks are now preferred in the classroom as schools are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. However advantageous they may be in the sense of accessibility, the overall learning disadvantages outweigh the pros of online textbooks.
Physical textbooks are dreaded by the student body. They are bulky, heavy and put a strain on one’s backpack. Some courses may have a class set, but the thousand-page books still take up space at home. Through computers and cell phones, students are able to access their textbooks whenever they are needed. There are no flipping pages as students can simply scroll to advance to the next chapter.
There are distractions and the LCD display screens mess with the mind. For some students, it may even be hard to see. This creates a strain on not only the eyes,
but the mind as well.
Without having to lug the enormous books required for most core and some elective classes, students have one less thing to worry about. The weight of hard copy textbooks can reach upwards of 5 pounds, and when students have to carry multiple a day, they make for an extra 7-10 pounds to lug around.
Taking the weight of textbooks off of students’ shoulders may help their back, but it does not benefit their brain. Studies have shown that learning via electronic screens is not as effective as learning with a hard copy. Students are not able to interact with an online textbook like they are able to with a physical one. Annotations and underlining do not offer the same benefits online, as well.
Much like note-taking, more information is retained when a piece of paper is in hand and not a keyboard. Typing notes is not as effective as writing them; the same logic applies to reading course material online. Reading on a screen is far less effective than reading from the page in a book.
Screens are associated with consuming mind-numbing media and wasting time. By putting learning material on the screen, it won’t be taken as seriously. There are distractions and the LCD display screens mess with the mind. For some students, it may even be hard to see. This creates a strain on not only the eyes, but the mind as well. Obtaining the information is made more challenging and therefore takes more effort to process and absorb.
More learning is accomplished when students interact with their course materials. Online, the most one can do is copy and paste notes. A physical copy of a textbook provides an outlet for students to directly copy important information, paste sticky-notes and take note of the most important information to make sense of it. Being able to touch the words one is reading can make all the difference.
When it comes to public learning institutions, all students must be given equal opportunity and that is not the case when it comes to using online textbooks.
Online textbooks are costly, and so are the computers required to access them. Not every student on campus may have access to a functioning computer at home. Phasing out physical textbooks will make learning even harder than it already is for underprivileged students.
Technology is not reliable– crashes and poor connection can infringe on online textbook usage. A physical textbook, although old-fashioned, is the most reliable option available. While the school may face a shortage of physical textbooks toward the beginning of the year, it does not signify that a switch to online copies needs to be made. It is more reliable in the long run to stick with the hard copy rather than the digital link.
The textbooks online create a clear divide within the student body, splitting the classical students from the modern ones, and the lower income from the more privileged. When it comes to public learning institutions, all students must be given equal opportunity and that is not the case when it comes to using online textbooks.
It is a decades-old practice to carry textbooks and take notes from them. Sometimes the old is better than the new, and, in the case of textbooks, that proves to be true. When using an online textbook, you will always be turning to the wrong page.
Photo by Kayla Florenco