Technology vs Textbooks: 6 Differences to Help You Make the Right Choice

Technological innovation in education is one of the most significant achievements of our time. Thanks to new tools that combine technology and educational platforms, we can create more advanced and modern classrooms for teaching, create applied products in the field of education and penetrate the most remote parts of the planet.

Digital tools, including tablets, smart boards, and the Internet, are the gateway to new student learning.

Statista says that in the USA, 23 percent of grade 6-12 students reported that their teacher spent all of the class using digital learning technologies to teach in science, math, and history / social studies. All of these were significantly below computer science/information technology, though, with 60 percent of surveyed students stating that they were taught using digital learning tools for the entire class.

However, more and more experts emphasize that digital technologies are not always the best solution. Is it true?

Devices vs. Books: Does It Even Matter?

Whether to abandon conventional textbooks in favor of electronic devices and tablets is on the agenda of many educational institutions. The more technologies develop and various applications appear, the more often this question pops up. However, many teachers are still wondering whether it is worth replacing familiar books and textbooks with electronic devices.

Of course, it’s hard not to remember the advantages of tablets over books: here, you have quick access and the ability to leave notes and share and study the material.

However, for younger students, this may not be as effective as for older students. More youthful learners may be more distracted and less focused when learning through an electronic device rather than a book.

The debate about how large the wait in a modern school should not subside, and this article is unlikely to solve this problem. However, we can study the differences between technology devices and textbooks and draw personal conclusions for ourselves. That is what we will do today.

1. Quick access to the latest information.

When you need quick access to the latest information, research, and current data, digital media are second to none. Thanks to the Internet and data libraries around the world, you can easily access this information.

At the same time, it will take more money and time to print an academic book on the same topic.

2. Structured learning

When we talk about the advantages of textbooks, the main thing is that they are built professionally by those who know their business. Usually, the book’s content is structured logically and gradually leads the student from simple to complex, like steps.

The content that we receive from electronic devices cannot always boast of this advantage.

3. Availability

An indisputable fact is that e-books are more affordable than printed textbooks if you have a device and the Internet. For many remote places on our planet, the availability of printed books is challenging. At the same time, the Internet may be more widespread.

Forbes writes that according to UN estimates, worldwide, more than 263 million children are not receiving full-time education. Online learning makes education accessible even for those living in remote areas and makes it easier to exchange curriculum abroad.

4. Risk to health

The health risks associated with excessive exposure of schoolchildren to light from electronic devices have long been known. Plus, when you learn through an electronic device, you have the temptation to be distracted by surfing the Internet or playing games constantly.

As a result, this harms the overall level of academic performance and constantly distracts students from the classroom.

On the other hand, printed texts allow better memorization and recall of content, which plays a vital role in the learning process.

5. Adaptability of electronic devices

Technologies in the education sector can achieve the goal that many educational systems pursue – to attract students through play, to involve them in the process invisibly and organically. Moreover, electronic teaching devices are a modern way of interacting with the world, and students will sooner or later have to turn to them in the future. Thus, learning on electronic devices immediately prepares students for a successful future.

6. Weight problem

Without a doubt, digital devices are lighter, and you can fit the entire school curriculum in one tablet. In contrast, regular textbooks mean huge backpacks and students’ crooked backs. The problem of a rich portfolio, especially for younger students, is very relevant.

At the same time, you can use a digital device both for classroom activities and for homework, and your only problem with it will only be to make sure that the device is charged and take the charger with you home or to class.

The paradox of the advantage of textbooks

Studies in the field of digitalization of education have concluded that most students

digital text to printed and believed that they learn more effectively with devices. However, everything turned out to be not so simple. With an overall faster speed of studying material on the Internet or devices, it turned out that students memorize information from such media less well. And that textbooks are more effective in this case.

The comprehension of the material was significantly better when the participants read the printed texts. It is because we read printed pages more slowly and more thoughtfully than digital ones. However, the good news is that students can be taught to read digital texts as carefully as printed texts. To do this, you need to introduce some restrictions on the Internet and make the screen lighting more similar to natural.


The main task of education is to enable students to connect ideas with what they see in front of them. Textbooks provide an opportunity to receive information, structure it and assimilate knowledge qualitatively. The digital revolution does not leave without attention the field of education. I do not think we should resist this because many digital solutions can help to simplify and bring the educational process to a new level.

Today, many universities are turning to IT companies or ordering user experience design services to implement convenient digital solutions for their students.

Nowhere in the world has technology completely replaced traditional teaching and learning tools. And the best solution for today is to integrate digital and textbooks and create convenient solutions for students worldwide.

Author’s bio: Anastasiia Lastovetska is a technology writer at MLSDev, a software development company that builds web & mobile app solutions from scratch. She researches the area of technology to create great content about app development, UX/UI design, tech & business consulting.


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