Physical vs. online textbooks: Pick your learning style

As the role of technology increases in schools, the debate over traditional or online textbooks has become prevalent.

Matt Mcgonigle, Staff Writer

Today, technology plays a huge role in schools——it gives students more accessibility and possibilities than was ever possible in a traditional pencil, paper, textbook style school. BSM was one of the earliest schools in the state to introduce a 1-1 laptop program and many schools have followed in its tracks since. However, with schools now introducing 1-1 iPad or laptop programs, consequently almost everything is now done on the students device; online textbooks are one of the controversial aspects of having a 1-1 technology program. Traditional textbooks are becoming a thing of the past in our modern day schools,Instead, traditional textbooks are being replaced with online copies. Although there are pros and cons to each side, I personally prefer a traditional textbook when it comes to school work.

Data taken from BSM survey of 193 students.

One of the biggest benefits of using online textbooks is convenience. Online textbooks give students peace of mind knowing they don’t have to lug home multiple different textbooks for different classes each night. Online textbooks can be accessed easily from anywhere via a wifi or cellular connection. They often have convenient shortcuts to get students to the sections faster without having to flip through multiple pages like in a traditional textbook.

Because online textbooks are on students’ laptops, they often take up less room than a traditional textbook would. When doing in-class work, many of the classroom desks tend to be small. In classes such as math, often a student will need a notebook, calculator, and textbook all out on a desk at once. The small size of desks makes it hard to do all the work and a traditional textbook just takes up more room than is necessary.

Data taken from BSM survey of 193 students.

Although online textbooks are convenient, they also have disadvantages. My biggest complaint about online textbooks is the fact that you can’t physically flip through the pages or reference where sections in the book are. Another problem I have with online textbooks is the fact that they are on your computer. When using online textbooks, I easily get distracted by the “new tab” bar, and before I know it, I will be on Netflix or YouTube––and be far from accomplishing the task at hand.

Whether you prefer to have a physical or online textbook, there are benefits that come with each. At BSM you have the option to check out a physical textbook while also being registered for the online textbook, so you have the best of both worlds. Ultimately, textbooks come down to personal preference and what works best in a student’s work environment.