Tablets vs. textbooks: How are students adapting?
Why we shouldn't shun traditional textbooks. Source: Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

Young students are digital natives, so what does that mean for the use of traditional textbooks in schools?

We all know that our technological screens can transfer us to limitless webpages of information in less than two seconds, but there’s always the worry that we become too dependent on our gadgets and give up on the simple pleasure of flicking through book pages by hand.

Don’t forget the seemingly endless information hidden among library bookshelves. Source: John Michael Thomson/Unsplash

The teaching benefits of a tablet

Students using iPads or other tech-based devices in lesson will no doubt experience a wide array of academic advantages.

Firstly, they will build upon their digital experience and have the courage to use their computing skills safely and effectively for the future.

Secondly, they won’t feel left out of the digital era or the technological trends ahead. If children are trained from a young age about the importance of the internet, the greater their computer literacy level and the higher their chances of being snapped up up by future employers.

Thirdly, the speed of a student’s knowledge transfer increases dramatically. With the instant response of internet search engines to the 21st-century technique of touch typing, learners can increase their academic progress by conveniently scanning web pages rather than trawling through pages of a paperback book.

Yet, according to The Guardian, the rise of digitalisation could be linked to a hidden goal of ‘surveillance capitalism’, “It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us. These processes are meticulously designed to produce ignorance by circumventing individual awareness and thus eliminate any possibility of self-determination.”

Could it be that the use of technology in the classroom is a slow move towards a world where we are constantly watched and viewed as digital products ourselves?

Tech or textbook? Source: Grovemade/Unsplash

The teaching benefits of a textbook

Despite lacking animated imagery and funky moving visuals, textbooks are still vauable classroom resources.

In a lesson full of varied learners, every student is going to complete tasks at their own pace, so every student also has their own way of using technology and does so at their own speed.

So, is it fair to expect every child to understand computing techniques straight away? Or is it easier to start the lesson on an equal platform, where everyone turns the textbook page at the same time?

Otherwise viewed as ‘old school’, textbooks may be stuck on the shelf, while flashy new tech tablets are favoured by students and teachers.

But another problem that can arise from these new gadgets is classroom disruption. While working from iPads or laptops, young students can secretly avert their attention to games or other distracting apps.

Whereas if students are learning from a textbook laid out in front of them, they have no other source of distraction apart from the teacher, the whiteboard and their peers.

The battle between textbooks and tech-based tablets is ongoing. Until schools invest in digitally-dependent classrooms, students are still free to pick and choose their preferred learning resources.

What do you prefer? Source: Ben White/Unsplash

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