Jul 27, 2009

Paper or Plastic?

ESchoolNews.com published an article last week documenting the debate over whether or not the government should provide students with electronic reading aides dubbed “Kindles”. These devices are essentially flat, lightweight, high-resolution black and white screens that incorporate a built-in keyboard and wireless capability. With 2 GB of internal storage, the Kindle could do for the bookworm what the iPod did for the audiophile.

Actually giving every student in America access to a Kindle is no easy (or cheap) proposition, and opponents are quick to list the many problems that could arise. Who, for example, would replace a Kindle that is lost or stolen? Additionally, classic textbooks will never “break-down” like an electronic device could. However, the benefits for integrating eTextbooks like the Kindle are just as compelling. Proponents say the price for providing reading materials would actually decrease over time once the devices were in the hands of students. Factor in other advantages, such as doing away with the chore of hauling around cumbersome and heavy paper textbooks, plus the ability to instantly update old content, and it’s easy to see the excitement that surrounds this issue.

But is the world ready for education without the paper-bound textbook? The answer to that question lies in the reality of the modern learning environment. While some teachers are quick to integrate the latest technology available into their classrooms, there are still traditionalists who see eTextbooks as just another boondoggle. Teaching styles are varied and conditional, and what works for one teacher could seriously hinder another. On the other hand, while making teachers happy is certainly beneficial to education, in the end, it is all about the student.

The real question at the heart of this gets back to a previous blog post where I called upon all online students to address the question of what the next learning environment should look like. There seems to be a groundswell of new ideas being presented that want to answer this, but while an imaginary destination is nice, what’s really needed is a roadmap.

1 comment:

Jonathan Lopez said...

More on digital textbooks from eSchoolNews.com: