The two differences stated above delineate why e-books may be the book of choice for college/university students but have no place in K-12 public education:
As classrooms across the country embrace digital textbooks, one Sydney school has declared the e-book era over and returned to the old-fashioned hard copy version because it improves comprehension and reduces distraction.Why anyone would expect any different outcome is far beyond me, but I still congratulate this particular school for believing the facts over their prejudices and restoring dead-tree books to classrooms.
For the past five years, Reddam House's primary and junior high school classes have used e-textbooks on iPads. But the consistent feedback from the students has been that they preferred pages to screens.
Teachers also found the iPads were distracting and did not contribute to students' technology skills, prompting the school to announce that students should no longer use digital textbooks, and must revert to hard-copy versions instead.
Dr Margaret Merga, a senior lecturer in education at Edith Cowan University, said an analysis of all the research into differences in book formats has found that understanding improves when information is read in a paper rather than a digital format.There is one legitimate concern about dead-tree books:
Research into why young people prefer hard-copy textbooks "points to greater perceived comfort, comprehension, and also retention of what's been read," she said. "Some have found that there's less immersive involvement [in digital text]."
As for the weight of the textbooks in backpacks, Mr Pitcairn said students could leave them in their lockers or use a digital version at home. "I've noticed that students prefer their textbook in both places," he said.My solution to that would simply be for schools to stop buying behemoths! My students marvel at the tiny algebra book I have from the 1940s and the moderately-sized book I have from the 1980s. The Integrated Math 1 book my (mostly freshman) students use today is so large that it has to be split into two separate volumes, and each of those volumes dwarfs my 1980s textbook. Does anyone reading this believe that today's math textbooks are more challenging than those older books? If they're not, then what justifies the huge size? Bring books back down to a legitimate size. So many K-12 textbooks nowadays come with an "online component" that there's really no need to try to cram so much crap into a textbook. A lot of the "extra" stuff can be put in the online component that students can access at home if they want or need to.
College/university students should have the option of purchasing dead-tree or online versions of their texts. If cost is an issue, perhaps the online version would be preferable--but the student should know up front about the reading comprehension research regarding e-books. But college/university students are adults, they're volunteers, and they're more academically capable than the average K-12 student. Let them make the choice for themselves.
I'm in California. Textbooks are not my usual area of activism. How would I start a movement to shrink the size of textbooks? Who's with me on this?