Tablets vs. textbooks:what should schools use?

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Published in the March 8, 2017 issue of The Bells

It seems that educational systems have been pushing for more tablet use in the classroom over the use of a textbook in recent years. Although this is not a new topic, the controversy is still an ongoing question of how this might benefit students in the educational realm. Its highest effects have been in the high school area. My biggest concern is how the dependency on tablets will affect students when they get to college.
As I sat in the second row of my dual credit British Literature class during my senior year of high school, the class began to review the reading assignment. Dr. Caddell, my literature professor who had a passion for books, stood up and spoke out about this controversial topic.
While he was speaking, the principal rolled a huge cart full of iPads into the classrooom. Dr. Caddell, very confused by the interruption, asked what was going on, and the response was that our books were being replaced with the tablets so we could read from them and not have to waste money on getting new books each year.

It seems logical from an economic stand point to use tablets, but to my professor it was more than that. She was worried about the future education of the students. Most, if not all, the students in the class were in there because they were moving onto higher education. She stood up and said that these kids needed to know the feeling of a book in their hands, to carry the weight, to know what it’s like to read from worn pages and flip them, not to just swipe right. College was going to be no different.
I was in complete agreement with her claim. Being a book nerd myself, I love the smell of new books, walking through Barnes and Noble and feeling the new pages and smelling it like it was hot off the press. I also love the weight that it had, the story it told, and the richness of the character’s background and timeline in my hand.

In the educational world, it is said that everyone learns differently, and that is true. I believe forcing students to read from tablets rather than a book might be beneficial for some. They will like the feel of the technology in their hands. It might even help them feel more comfortable with reading the material because the tablet is their comfort zone. However, I do not believe it will help them later on in college.
College is about getting out of your comfort zone, meeting new people, starting life on your own, and getting that higher education to achieve the goals of your childhood. These tablets could hinder that process. Professors won’t always assign books with e-books attached, there won’t always be a tablet or phone to make you comfortable.

College is a challenge, and it requires stepping out of our comfort zone. Maybe it’s time we roam the aisles of the classrooms feeling the weight of books on our back and realize that inside the books we carry, is the weight of history on our shoulders. Next time there is an option to purchase an e-book or a textbook, grab the textbook and feel the history between your fingers as you flip through those pages. It just might put some perspective on bright lights and swiping right.

Author: Bryce Keller

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