The Wave of the Future: Tablets vs. Textbooks

Hannah Roose, Senior Staff Writer

Has your back ever been so tired from all the books you have to carry?  Recall how difficult it is carrying two or three thick books that take up so much space in your book bag, and cause your arms to ache when hoist them into class. Having to search through all these different books to find one piece of information can be exhausting, but for students this burden has always been a necessity….until now.

Studies show that tablets can be the solution to these problems; although like everything else, there are cons. For instance, an online article on Procon. Org states: “According to Pulitzer Prize winning technology writer Nicholas Carr, peer-reviewed studies show that reading hyper-linked text may increase the brain’s “cognitive load,” lowering the ability to process, store, and retain information, or “translate the new material into conceptual knowledge.’ “ However, many contemporary students appreciate the mobility: “Tablets would allow students to have easier access to and transport of learning materials,” says senior Alexis Ward.

Although replacing textbooks with tablets is still new to many schools, it has happened in several school districts. Some school districts liked the tablets and were very successful with them, but other schools had disastrous experiences like Los Angeles Unified School District, according to sources. In L.A., so many students were able to jailbreak their provided laptops, that the district recalled the distribution.  This information raises an important question, are tablets or textbooks a better choice for a school district? Studies show that there are both pros and cons when it comes to a tablet or a textbook.

Some of the advantages to using a tablet or a laptop are that a tablet is much lighter than a textbook. Textbooks can get heavy, especially when students carry more than one at a time.  Students can actually have back problems due to this heavy load. ”I love when my arms ache while I walk to class,” says senior Kelsey Tingler, sarcastically, of course. Tablets can be beneficial to the environment, they save information from hundreds of textbooks, which can save a lot of paper. If a school bought tablets instead of the several textbooks they buy each year, they could save themselves several thousand dollars in the long run. If a school would purchase and distribute tablets, they then have access to the Internet and available IT assistance.

Even though tablets are the future of modern technology, some schools and students prefer to have textbooks. Some of these cons are that: 1) tablets are more expensive than print textbooks; 2) they are also more distracting–studies are already suggesting that the present generation has a shorter attention span because they spend so much time on electronic devices, jumping from one site to another. 3) Manufacturing these tablets are environmentally bad and dangerous to humans: “According to the New York Times, the ‘adverse health impacts from making one e-reader are estimated to be 70 times greater than those from making a single book.’ “   Another negative is that students would have more excuses for why they did not do their homework–whether it be that the screen hurts their head and eyes or that they had technical difficulties–excuses will abound. “Screens give me migraines, so I would rather use a textbook,” says Senior Lilly Kish. Another issue that could rise if tablets replaced textbooks is that they could become broken and then that student would not have the information for a class or have their homework.

Replacing books with tablets is probably the wave of the future; many teachers say so themselves. Although some parents and students may be on edge with the replacement, it will help with easier access to learning. It will additionally complement the world’s obsession with and reliance upon technology.  The school district may spend more in the beginning when purchasing tablets or laptops, but in the long run, they can save hundreds. Most would say that it’s impossible to prevent what will be an accepted modification not very far in the future.