As the new generation of college students head off to begin their learning, the ways that coursework has been taught for generations must confront the available technological resources today. One particular issue that sits at the forefront of these discussions is the issue of textbooks. While students today have grown up on tablets and laptops as part of their regular educational experiences, many wonder what value books have in their academic programs. Although this is an understandable reaction, there are several factors to consider when deciding between digital and traditional books.
Bite-Sized Chunks of Information
Many students wonder why textbooks are still considered reliable. This is especially true considering that some states, such as California and Florida, require all books to be made available in digital format. However, a 2014 study conducted in Australia and published in the Journal of Cogent Education found that texts present smaller chunks of information and better understand the material. Unlike digital formats, traditional textbooks’ familiar form prompts students to take breaks between paragraphs and pages. These natural break-ups in the text allow students to absorb the information they’ve just read before going on to the new information.
Speed vs. Comprehension
BusinessInsider noticed a huge discrepancy between speed and comprehension when investigating traditional textbooks versus digital materials. While students reported performing better using digital books, they performed much better using conventional print sources. Students’ understanding was especially better when they examined sources longer than one page. Research conducted in 2009 and published in Human Factors describes the disruptive side effects endlessly scrolling on a digital device can have on comprehension. This effect is believed to be responsible for the greater understanding that students experience when reading traditional texts versus digital ones.
Traditional textbooks have that as a strike against them when it comes to cost. Digital formats are typically much cheaper. However, as long as instructors insist on keeping traditional textbooks as part of their curriculum, there are ways to reduce the out-of-pocket expense of buying a textbook. Websites such as BooksRun allow students to sell, buy, or rent textbooks. Typically such websites can save the student a lot of money than students might pay in their college bookstore.
Although the digital age is playing a role in our educational system, most available research does not entirely support throwing out traditional textbooks. Instead, there are unique advantages to including both classic and newer forms of learning. While this may be cost-prohibitive at first, it is through the digital landscape that prospective students will save money.