In today's digital age and with every child ( sometimes even in Pre K !) having access to a mobile phone or tablet ,it is worth considering whether tablets should be introduced into schools to replace text books .
Tempting as it may be for schools to move into this modern age there are many points which need to be considered first before deciding on whether to introduce tablets in order to replace textbooks .
Consider the Expense
There is considerable expenses in introducing tablets to a school .This may make it beyond the reach of some schools who deal with tight budgets and lack of any sponsorship.
- If students are to each given a tablet ,then there will need to be a High Quality Wi-Fi Server installed at the school .This can work out initially to be expensive .
- Schools will be required to purchase the hardware ( The Tablet).Even if the school is small this will involve considerable expense.
- Schools will have to buy in various software packages ( Textbooks and programs).
- All teachers and administrators will have to attend training programs to use the tablet and relevant software.The teachers must be fully versed in using the tablets so they can also teach their students.
- Statistics have shown that the cost of e text books supplied to an I pad is 552 % higher than providing a new textbook.
- Estimates have been given that the annual cost ,per student per class, with tablets would be $71.55 as opposed to $14.26 for text books .( Lee Wilson ,Economy & Education ,K12 Publishing)
- Budget needs to be put aside to repair tablets by a skilled technician when there is a fault .In addition Tablet batteries last normally a maximum of two years .These are expensive to replace particularly if a school has to replace a few hundred at a time .Tablets are prone to theft as they can be utilized in daily life for many tasks .Additional Insurance would probably have to be taken out by the school .
- The average battery life of a tablet is 7 hours . This means that chargers would have to be provided for students to use after the school day in order to complete their homework .The end result is more expensive outlay.
Students are slower when reading digital text
Studies have shown that people tend to read digital text between 20 to 30 per cent slower than textbooks . This obviously impacts on the amount of time available to get work completed .Students who read print from textbooks comprehend and retain the information better than reading off a tablet .
Health problems may arise for students and teachers
- The American Optometric Association states that hand held devices can cause Computer Vision Syndrome resulting in eyestrain ,blurry vision and even migraines.
- Studies have shown that mobile device users have a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel ,neck pain and fibromyalgia .
Digital Divide between schools
Not all schools can afford to buy and develop a program for students to use tablets instead of textbooks . This will lead to a further divide between rich and poor school districts. Remember that many rural areas do still not have access to an effective broad band .
Textbooks do not get infected virus
Printed textbooks are not subject to down-loadable viruses which result in the whole Tablet freezing and no work getting done .It may seem old fashioned but the reality is that a textbook is more reliable .
Students are distracted when utilizing Tablets
In the classroom students will often pay more attention to their apps, e mails and games than to their e textbooks .Four fifths of students under 18 multitask whilst using digital media and this will result in insufficient attention being given to e learning text .The temptation to use the tablet in class or home for personal use other than lessons is undeniable.
Textbooks not available
At present many text books that are in use at schools are not available in a digital format .This software facility is growing but at present has long way to go to match the availability of text books .
Considering the above points discussed it seems that most schools are not ready to do away with textbooks just yet .