Textbooks have been the main source of our education for many decades. Textbooks have allowed us to practice our reading skills, and make notes about content that we were unsure about. Textbooks have even printed in different formats, such as workbook or paperback style. However, this is the 21st century, and technology is certainly advancing as the years go by. Now, textbooks have a new gadget to worry about: tablets. Yes, tablets provide much leisure for us when we are looking for something exciting and productive to do. However, tablets also serve a purpose for educational matters. All the textbook sources and materials that have been available to us over the years can now be accessed on a tablet with the touch of the screen. It seems tablets are taking over the education world. Now the question to ask is, “Should tablets replace textbooks altogether?” The answer should be: No. Tablets should not replace textbooks because tablets will cost schools way too much money, tablets can cause technological issues that teachers will need to be aware of, and tablets can lower reading comprehension skills by a great amount.
The first reason tablets shouldn’t replace textbooks is that tablets will cost the schools way too much money. Let’s look at the statistics. Throughout the years, schools have been battling a budget crisis. Schools have had to cut back on certain programs, like music education. These are the schools who want to get on the tablet bandwagon, but can’t due to financial issues. As we look at how much the Los Angeles School District spent on tablets, we can understand why it is a hassle. In the year 2013, the Los Angeles School District spent a whopping thirty million dollars to provide tablets for the students. (Alvarez) For starters, we already know that tablets are very expensive. Therefore, to go all out and purchase tablets for an entire district is quite a feat. In that same year, the sales for those tablets alone greatly affected Apple’s sales. (Alvarez) My question is what could Apple offer in return, aside from tablets? Apple could at least offer a low money down customer service program for schools alone. Apple could also give back to schools in need of financial help. The essential point is that the purchase of all those tablets seemed to only benefit Apple.
The next reason tablets shouldn’t replace textbooks is going to be very deep. Technological issues are going to arise from using tablets, and they can occur more frequently than expected. The main question here is what problems can we expect to see because of using tablets? First, the battery life can drain heavily and quickly. (Klindt) This is an easy decision. Let’s look at our phones. We use our phones heavily, and that explains the battery life. The same can be said for the tablets. If schools are going to have tablets, they need to have a charging station, and they should be charged when school is not in session. This brings me to my next reason. Teachers must set up a charging station to charge a good number of tablets at once. (Klindt) So much for conservation of energy. This charging station is going to use up so much power. The worst-case scenario will be if the charging ports break down. Then, what would the teachers do? Next, tablets are very fragile. (Klindt) Therefore, older students should only have access to their own tablets. (Klindt) These two reasons go hand in hand with each other. I can already see little kids losing grip of the school tablet, and then it smashes.
Then what happens next? At least older students will take better care of handling a tablet. Next, app compatibility can be an issue. (Klindt) When schools receive their tablets, they need to be able to access certain apps. Some apps can be downloaded on iOS and not Android, and vice versa. Next, tablets can freeze up when in use. (Klindt) This is a common hassle. Our apps will either freeze or shut off altogether. We see the same thing happen in phones. Teachers need to be prepared to restart apps or restart tablets altogether without having to call customer service. Finally, an issue that can occur is students demanding tablets on a regular basis. (Cavanagh) You see, kids today are already exposed to tablets earlier than when they really should. You walk in the grocery store and you see a family. The next thing you spot is the two-year-old boy in the family glued to a tablet. This was a bad idea from the start. I don’t believe kids that young should be handling tablets. Kids are very curious, and they can mess up anything and everything on a tablet. Now, because they are constantly on a tablet, students will always try to sneak over to the class tablets when instructed not to. These are all the technological issues that can arise from using tablets in schools.
You may be wondering how tablets can affect students in terms of the knowledge they are obtaining. This leads me to my 3rd reason tablets should not replace textbooks. Tablets can lower students’ reading comprehension skills further than if the students were to use textbooks. According to author David Gelernter, “It [computers] makes the printed page look even more boring than it used to look.” (Gelernter 581) What this means is that tablets won’t enhance the text from the textbooks any better. The students can get easily distracted and move on to another app on the tablet. The whole purpose of the tablet is to read the text, but students won’t be able to focus. This leads me to my next case. Tablets will cause way too much distractions for students. Gelernter makes a point on how free roaming on tablets should be only used “during recess or relaxation periods.” (Gelernter 583) However, students will try to be sneaky and avoid the classwork instead. A student can easily access another app instead of reading a text. This would be a common issue with tablets in schools. Let’s go back to tablets shortening what we are reading. While tablets can condense the readings, the tablets will organize the plot organizations that the textbooks have already mapped out. (Gelernter 582) David Gelernter mentions that the organization is “a crucial part of education.” (Gelernter 582) This holds truth because when students read, they need to make sure they understand the topic at hand. Now, now, you might want actual proof as to how the reading comprehension skills are affected. Anne Niccoli, an author from the website Educause Review, conducted a research on how well students will score on a test after reading both a text or a tablet. (Niccoli) The people in this survey would be assigned either the text or the tablet, but it would be the same reading. After which, despite what source, the people would have to take a quiz. Niccoli’s results had proven that students, who read the text instead of the tablet, would score better on the quiz over students who read the tablet. (Niccoli) In a survey of 231 students, more students who read the tablet passed the quiz over the students who read the text by one student. (Niccoli) However, more students who read the textbook received an A on the quiz over the students who read the tablets by 10 students. (Niccoli) To summarize the poll, it is one thing to pass a reading quiz, but receiving an A or a B will really show that you understood the reading material. Now you have proof to show that reading comprehension skills are deeply affected by tablets alone.
In the end, tablets have proven to be too risky to use in schools. Tablets will cost schools way too much money to obtain. Having said that, few schools that take interest in tablets will be able to afford them in the first place. Next, technological issues will arise from using tablets on a regular basis. Teachers will really have to be computer literate to fix technological bugs in the tablets. Then, using tablets have been proven to lower reading comprehension skills in students. This ties in with the fact that students can get very distracted while using the tablets. Students will be assigned to read a text on the tablets, but they can easily switch between different apps. The essential point is that textbooks will not cause any of these issues. Textbooks can benefit reading comprehension skills by allowing students to mark up the text. So, teachers should make the smart move and just stick to textbooks. Just say no to tablets in schools.
- Alvarez, Brenda. “As More Schools Embrace Tablets, Do Textbooks Have a Fighting Chance?” 31 July 2013. neaToday. 21 April 2018.
- Cavanagh, Sean. “Students’ Tablet, Smartphone Usage Climbs, With Strong Appetite for Apps.” 24 September 2015. EdWeek Market Brief. 21 April 2018.
- Gelernter, David. “Computers Cannot Teach Children Basic Skills.” Kennedy, X. J., Dorothy M. Kennedy and Marcia F. Muth. The Bedford Guide for College Writers Tenth Edition. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2014. 580-584.
- Klindt, Rob. “Should Tablets Replace Textbooks in the Classroom?” 5 June 2013. Online Education Degrees.org. 21 April 2018.
- Niccoli, Anne. “Paper or Tablet? Reading Recall and Comprehension.” 28 September 2015. Educause Review. 21 April 2018.