E-textbooks are beneficial to today’s society because they are an accessible way to find information and a reliable resource for students and teachers. E-textbooks are textbooks that are either electronically published, or scanned online from a paper textbook. They are attempting to take the place of and have all of the same educational purposes as their paper counterparts, such as self-teaching, practicing, providing material to be taught, to be a credible resource for assignments, or to answer questions. They were created to be a more easily accessible and compact or portable. They utilize visible light to see the book on an electronic screen, and radio/microwaves, which are used to share the textbook between students online. This information can be accessed on any electronic device, such as a smartphone, laptop, computer, tablet, etc.
These textbooks transmit information from a textbook, whether it be science, history, or anything else, by sharing the originally uploaded textbook with others. E-textbooks are intended to provide information on a specific topic to multiple people on an electronic device. They are much less expensive than paper books, because only one book is needed to be published, and then it can be shared with many others. The average textbook costs $70 (cbsnews.com). With an average class size of 24.3 students (economix.blogs.nytimes.com), that could mean upwards of $1700- and that’s just for one class set, not even enough for students to take books home! If one online textbook is purchased, it can be shared online to an entire body of students. Or, even if only one paper textbook is purchased, it can be scanned online and also shared to all of the students in the course the textbook is required for. However, e-textbooks do present their own issues, such as those with comprehension. IN studies done from 1992 to today, the motion of scrolling through an e-textbook is a disruption, and negatively affects comprehension of the subject (theconversation.com).
Although e-textbooks have the reliability of always being in your pocket, phones die, or experience technical problems often. If the electronic device used to access the textbook dies, the textbook can no longer be accessed. However, the lesson of responsibility teachers and parents give up by not requiring their students to remember to bring textbooks home anymore can be retaught as responsibility to keep electronics charged for use. E-textbooks are also much more compact than the paper kind. The average textbook is 7x10 inches, and the average tablet is only 7 inches across the entire screen. WHen textbooks are more portable, homework can be done in places besides just a home, like the car or a sibling’s baseball game, or wherever necessary.
However, none of this works without an internet service, and studies showed in 2015, that only 61% of kids 3-18 had internet access at home (national center for education statics). This creates a massive issue when the entire basis of an assignment is online. Another advantage is that there would no longer be missing or damaged textbooks. Students would not have to fill out aivers to pay for lost books, and the school wouldn’t have to constantly pay for new ones that get ruined. On the other hand, students are less likely to stay focused on their work, especially on their phones. People, on average, receive about 45.9 push notifications on their phone per day (askwonder.com). With odds like these, keeping kids on track may prove to be harder than what meets the eye.
Obviously, e-textbooks wouldn’t even be a debate if they didn’t have an affect on educational performance. Children who either aren’t provided with paper textbooks, or are and forget theirs at school or home, can use their electronic textbook to complete homework and assignments. This will decrease the number of incomplete homework grades, and increase overall class grades. In a study of 838 7th grade students, a significant relationship was shown between higher self-esteem and academic achievement (ncbi.hlm.nih.gov).
So the better grades will result in a higher self-worth by students. However, if one student is behind when their classmates are getting better grades, they will still be behind, and since they would not move at the same pace, their self-esteem could suffer as in inverse of the aforementioned survey. Teachers would have a much easier time assigning homework because everyone could have a copy of the textbook. Lots of classes only have one set, so kids can not take books home. But with e-textbooks teachers could do this more easily. However, sine teachers did not grow up in such a technologically advanced generation, they often struggle with electronic substitutions such as e-textbooks. E-textbooks also affect student’s health, both negatively and positively. On the negative side, the blue light from screens gets absorbed by the person looking at it. Children absorb more bluelight than adults, and when it is absorbed into the eyes, it goes straight into the retina. This can prematurely age the eyes and affect vision. However, since tablets are averagely less than a pound, and textbooks are averagely 4.8 pounds, carrying tablets could be healthier for kids and their spines. Even if a student only carries 2 textbooks, they are carrying just under 10 pounds.
We are better off with e-textbooks because the educational benefits and accessibility outweigh the disadvantages of eye strain and losing the lesson of responsibility. This is true because the positive effects on education and grades could have long-term effects, like college acceptances and jobs later in life. The negatives, like the lesson of responsibility could be taught other ways, like by keeping electronics charged. Also, there are filters that can be used to help combat eye strain, but things like heavy books have no alternatives. E-textbooks are beneficial to society due to the long-term beneficial effects on education and the mental and physical health of students.
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