What’s better for education, iPads or Textbooks?

By: Isaac Lund

Image taken from: http://www.bpr.org

The textbook industry has long been the backbone of elementary to collegiate learning. Today, with tablets and especially iPads increasing their foothold in American households, a new argument has emerged: Which one is better suited for today’s education needs?

In 2019, book publishers generated 8.38 billion dollars in revenue selling textbooks, an 8.2% decrease from 2018, according to Statista. On the other hand, the iPad made Apple 21.2 billion dollars in revenue, a 12.3% increase from 2018.

Both proponents and opponents of implementing tablets in schools have evidence to support their views.

Supporters of iPad learning most often bring up weight. iPads can hold hundreds of textbooks, worksheets, and tests, without increasing the need for physical storage and backpack weight. According to Mayo Clinic, leaning forward to compensate for the extra weight of heavy backpacks can affect the natural curve of the lower back. E-textbooks also cost less than printed textbooks, and these textbooks can instantly be updated to the newest edition. Furthermore, iPads allow for highlighting and taking notes directly on text, without destroying paper media. Finally, they drastically reduce the need for excess paper, helping save our ever-crumbling environment.

There are many opponents of tablets as well, and they have their fair share of cons to back them up. One such shortcoming evident is that blue light in tablets can cause eye-strain and other forms of agitation, according to the American optometric association. Also, many students, especially in public schools, do not have sufficient internet bandwidth at home to even use tablets for homework. Furthermore, even without paper, one iPad’s manufacturing requires the extraction of minerals and fossil fuels. Adverse health effects from this far exceed those of a textbook, according to the New York Times. Finally, tablets allow for easier cheating.

In my opinion, as long as iPads are properly introduced to schools with measures to combat distractions and cheating, they are far better tools to aid education than backbreaking textbooks that have so long been the go-to.

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