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The Advantages of Digital Textbooks

Allen Baragar

Young students sitting at a table in a classroom using tablets.As a student of an online master’s program, I have found an appreciation for digital textbooks. In my previous studies for my bachelor’s degrees, online books were not widely available. As I sit here writing this article, I am looking at my bookcase full of textbooks that take up more than three feet of space on a single shelf, and that does not include nearly all of the books that I had to purchase for my degree.

Importance of Educators Embracing the Digital Age and Utilizing Digital Textbooks

Disruptive Innovation in the classroom can prove beneficial, such as being able to tailor a lecture based on quiz results taken prior to the students attending class. With the implementation of a digital textbook, the instructor can further customize the lesson not only for an entire classroom, but for a single student. If a student reads a chapter in the book, takes a quiz, and does not pass, the teacher can adapt the activities such that the student will have to redo the work until a mastery level is achieved. The students of today and tomorrow are digital-based students. Their worlds revolve around electronics. If the education system and teachers do not embrace the use of digital textbooks and the advancement of the digital age, they will be putting their students at a disadvantage in the work force.

Benefits of Digital Textbooks

  1. Textbooks can be downloaded instantly: As part of my research for this article, I visited pearson.com to shop for a textbook on Vector Calculus. There are currently 5 options for this title. Three out of the five allow the students to have immediate access to the materials via downloads.
  2. Cost effective: Since 1978, textbook costs have increased by 812%, and since 2006, textbook costs have increase four times faster than inflation. Digital textbooks typically cost substantially less than their printed counterparts, and as the cost of education continues to rise across the nation, the amount saved on a single book is significant.
  3. Environmentally friendly: According to the EPA, paper and paperboard products make up roughly 18 million tons of waste in landfills. When combined with the cost of production in paper, energy, and other materials, the standard textbook contributes more negatively to the environment than the comparable digital version.
  4. Interactive textbooks: Pearson’s MyLab allows for the development interactive course materials and customized solutions for the students. The teacher can observe digitally how the student is performing and adjust material accordingly.
  5. Don’t have to carry physical books: With an average book weighing between 2-3 pounds, a student could be carrying an additional 9-15 pounds of weight on their backs on a typical day. That can exert an extra 36-60 pounds of pressure on a students’ knees. With the digital textbook, the only additional weight is that of the device the student is using to read the material.
  6. Most up-to-date information available: The life cycle of a book edit is 18-24 months. Once a book has gone digital, it has the potential to be updated yearly, if not more frequently, based on the material covered in the book. There may not be a need for an algebra book to be updated every year, but a history book with the most current events added to it is a magnificent advancement.

#digitaltextbooks
#ebooks
#digitalage

Dec.9.2019

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Allen holds a BBA in Mgmt. of Info. Systems and is pursuing an M.Ed. in Instructional Technology at University of St. Thomas, TX. 

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