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The Enduring Power Of Printed Textbooks vs E-books

Technology is a big part of our lives in the 21st-century, and nobody argues today that future generations should be familiar with it and know how to use it if they want to be successful in their careers. For this reason, schools all around the world have been investing billions of dollars into making their classrooms technology-friendly, and Singapore is no exception.

Schools in Singapore use modern technological equipment in almost all educational facilities in order to enhance collaboration and improve students' motivation.

Desktop computers were the first to enter the classrooms, and they were soon followed by more convenient and portable tablets. Nowadays, tablets are such a big part of a school that educational institutions are investing in special apps that are used by students to share information and collaborate with teachers and one another.

Recent global developments have proven to us that technology is indeed very useful in education.

However, there is one aspect of school life where tradition persists - textbooks. There are many students and parents who still prefer traditional printed textbooks, and even teachers cannot reach a consensus on this matter. On the one hand, digital books seem to be better because a great number of them can be loaded into one single tablet, and you can carry them with you anywhere you go.

Read also: Approved Textbook List by MOE

On the other hand-printed books are easier to work with (especially if you have to fill the information in the book with a pencil), and they don't strain your eyes as much.

Let's go into detail and see what the benefits of printed and digital textbooks are and why, despite the existence of e-books, printed versions are still so popular with students, teachers, and parents.


Benefits of printed textbooks.

The first and most significant benefit of using printed textbooks is the ease of use. Teachers and students do not require special training to know how to operate conventional books, whereas if they want to read an e-book, they might need to learn how to use a tablet or access a specific application.

Another significant benefit is that all books are available in print, whereas not all necessary material may be available for download. Printed books have been a standard in education for as long as we can remember.

All academic publishers produce high-quality printed books; however, not all of these academic books have an electronic version.

It is true that electronic books are easier to read on the go. A tablet usually doesn't weigh much and doesn't occupy a lot of space in the backpack, so you can have access to all of your books wherever you are. However, when you are in the classroom, reading books on the tablet may be distracting, especially for younger children.

If children have a printed book in front of them, they will focus solely on that book. However, when they have a tablet in their hand, it is very hard to resist the temptation of other applications that are loaded onto the tablet. So instead of focusing on the job at hand, some students end up exploring their electronic devices and not paying attention to the lesson.

In addition, it is much easier to share and to borrow a printed book than a digital one. If you need a specific book for a specific purpose, you can just go to the library and borrow it for a few hours to look up the information you need and then return it.

However, you cannot "borrow" a digital version; you will have to purchase the entire book in order to access any part of it, and some books can cost dozens of dollars. Similarly, you cannot share the digital copy of your book with one of your friends since many applications (in order to protect the copyright) prevent you from sending a copy of your book via email or in any other way.

Another advantage of printed books is that they require no maintenance. Once you own a printed version of the book, you will be able to access it anywhere at any time. However, in order to access the digital version, you need to make sure that your tablet is charged. If students fail to do that, then the tablet may switch off in the middle of the lesson, and they will find themselves without any of their study material.

Read also:
A Singaporean parent's guide to buying Maths Assessment books


Disadvantages of E-books

Also, just like ordinary computer programs, some e-book files can be affected by various viruses and glitches. A virus might make parts of the e-book incomprehensible or even erase it from the device. And sometimes, it may not be possible to restore your purchase for free, so you will have to re-purchase the file and pay for it again.

Screen glare is another problem.

If a student is sitting in a certain place where the sun is hitting the screen of their tablet directly, then it will affect their ability to see what's on the screen.

Know more about "How to keep your eyes safe from screen glare"


Benefits of E-books

The benefits of digital books. Although a traditional printed version remains a favorite with the teacher, students, and parents, digital books are also not without their benefits. Here are just some of them.

As we have already mentioned, digital versions are easier to carry and weigh considerably less. School children have to carry a heavy backpack on a daily basis, and swapping just some of their books with the light-weight tablet will make their commute to school more comfortable.

Also, some applications allow you to make notes in your digital book, and when you decide that you don't need those notes anymore, you can erase them without any trace with just the push of a button; you do not need to spend several minutes rubbing in an eraser on the page.

Moreover, digital books are relatively new, and tablets are fun to interact with. So students who do not usually like to read traditional paper books may be intrigued by the digital version.

Where to get ebooks in Singapore? Try Goguru website.


The choice is yours

In the end, your choice of the book depends on your personal preference. And it doesn't really matter which version you choose as long as you have access to the necessary information. It is the content of the book that gives you valuable knowledge, not the medium through which it is delivered.

What about you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.