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Paper vs Electronic Textbooks

By Mihika Badjate

As many schools are transitioning to having schoolwork online rather than in paper, one of the most debated topics has become paper vs. online textbooks. As technology moves on, should we progress with it? Or are there certain drawbacks to this technology that can affect students negatively at school? Below are some common advantages and disadvantages of paper and online textbooks that are often weighed against each other when comparing the two.

One common disadvantage of paper textbooks is that they are heavy and unwieldy to carry. Students can strain their backs carrying so many heavy books from class to class, and they may have to carry multiple textbooks for multiple classes. Heavy paper textbooks are also often more expensive than online textbooks, disregarding the costs of the devices.

However, online textbooks can also be quite expensive because of the price of the computers or tablets that students use for access. Just as paper textbooks can cause back strain, textbooks on digital devices are also associated with eye strain, because of the bright light emitted. The textbooks on these devices can also be inconveniently formatted, and students may have a hard time multitasking and flipping their pages, which is often easier in a paper textbook.

Some advantages of paper textbooks are that they are often much more convenient to use. Students can easily flip back and forth between pages while taking notes, and even annotate and highlight in the margins of the textbook. While many  of these functions are available on ebooks, they are often unwieldy for students to use.

However, online textbooks do have many interactive features, as they can include videos, tutorials, flashcards, and dictionaries, and even translations into different languages. Another advantage of online textbooks is that they are more accessible. Anywhere, on any device, a student can access their textbook, along with loads of other information on the Internet, if they have questions about what they are learning.

Overall, the advantages and disadvantages of paper and digital textbooks balance out. Different people prefer different versions, and some even like to have one digital and one paper textbook to get the most benefit out of both. I personally prefer paper textbooks over digital ones, but I know many people who completely disagree with me. It is completely a matter of opinion, and in the end, what matters is what works the best for you.

About Katherine Han

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