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Tablets and E-books: Taking Over Schools
It is undeniable that many innovations are very popular because of the rapid development of technology. E-books and tablets are examples of these innovations. Their use has been continuously increasing in the past five years. As a result, they became a technological boom in 2011 (Heggestuen, 2013). Theyshowed a faster adoption rate than smartphones. According to the report by Business Insider by the end of 2013, 6% of the global population will own a tablet. While it took smartphones nearly four years to reach 6% market penetration upon their introduction, it only took two years for tablets to accomplish this feat (Heggestuen, 2013). Moreover, according to an Extreme Tech report, Gartner predicts tablet sales of 320 million units by the end of 2015 (Anthony, 2014). A research made by Ofcom (2014) found that one in three children in United Kingdom now has his own tablet.
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With the rapid rise in the use of tablets with more and more youngsters owning one, the use of E-books should be considered as the new textbooks in schools. Many schools have already taken the lead and made this possible. In the Washington area, students in hundreds of schools already have access to tablet computers. Moreover, Prince William County schools are preparing to give all freshmen and sophomores in three high schools tablets next fall. This initiative is part of the new grant program for struggling schools. Also, officials in Alexandria are considering updating a decade-old laptop program with tablets starting this 2015. Another increasingly popular approach practiced by Fairfax County is that it invites students to bring their own devices to school (Chandler and Tsukuyama, 2014). Given these situations, it is possible to let E-books be used as replacement for paper books.
On the local front, the adoption of E-books has been tested in a private high school (Miriam College), in a private university (FEU-Manila) and in a national university (UP-Diliman). De Luna (2015) reported that the results of the pilot study have been very encouraging but the scene represents a dilemma in the academic community. It was discovered that the students are better experienced with technology than their teachers. Furthermore, some Filipino teachers are the one who need to “migrate” to the “high-tech world” where the students seem to be the “natives” (De Luna, 2015).
So, what is in tablets and E-books that make them suitable replacements for paper books?
Tablets and E-books have features that make them offer more benefits than paper books. Tablets can store hundreds of textbooks or E-books, increase student interactivity and creativity, save the environment by lowering the amount of printing and are cheaper than print books (Procon.org, 2014). Moreover, paper books negatively impact the backs of children due to their heaviness. It is reported that more than 13,700 US children, aged 5-18, were treated for backpack injuries for the school year 2011-2012 (Dallas, 2012).
Even though E-books give the users more benefits, still some oppose their use as replacement for paper books. Oppositors say that tablets are expensive, too distracting for students, easy to break, and costly/time-consuming to fix (ProCon.org, 2014). Moreover, “the adoption of e-books can distract students’ learning because there are so many things they can do like surfing the internet and playing online games. Therefore, it is difficult for students to concentrate” (Leung Chi, 2010).
However, with the rapid development of technology, it has become imperative for our country to be at paced with the world to remain competitive. Reinforcing our educational system with the use of the state of the art educational tools like e-books and tablets is a practical move. It does not only ensure updated contents of the textbooks being used in school but is also keeping Filipino students to be at par with other students in the world. Hence, the use of e-books and tablets is necessary.
I will present arguments that will support my thesis that the benefits of the use of tablets and e-books far outweighs their disadvantages.
First, tablets and E-books are good investments. Tablets may seem pricey at first, but there are various models to choose from to suit one’s budget. Tablet prices also continue to drop, making them increasingly affordable. Tablets cost on average $489 in 2011, $386 in 2012, and are projected to cost $263 in 2015 (Thibodeau, 2011). Furthermore, E-books on tablets cost 50-60% lower than print textbooks (ProCon.org, 2014). K-12 school districts spent more than $8 billion per year on textbooks according to the 2012 report of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). So, if people would invest more on E-books rather than on printed books, they would be able to save up and could use the extra money for other equally important purposes.
Second, features in tablets increase flexibility and convenience for teachers and students alike. Tablets give users the ability to highlight and edit texts and write notes without ruining a textbook for the next user (ProCon.org, 2014).They also have a search function,a backlighting option to read in low light, and a built-in dictionary (ProCon.org, 2014). E-textbooks can be updated instantly to get new editions or information. E-textbooks and other files can be stored on “cloud” servers and accessed on any equivalent device and users can sign into an account on a different device and access all of the information (ProCon.org, 2014).The aforementioned features make the tablets as better choices than printed books for they give users more benefits.
Third, tablets help students learn more materials faster. This has to do with the efficiency of the E-reader and the student. According to the US Department of Education and studies by the National Training and Simulation Association, technology-based instruction can reduce the time students take to reach a learning objective by 30-80% (ProCon.org, 2014). 81% of K-12 teachers believe that tablets enrich classroom education and help improve students’ performance on standardized tests (ProCon.org, 2014). 77% of the teachers found technology to “increase student motivation to learn” according to the Public Broadcasting Service survey (Public Broadcasting Service, 2012). A study conducted by Rockinson-Szapkiw, Holder, & Dunn (2011) compared the motivation of students for a number of learning tasks when using E-books in comparison with paper books. The authors found a significant difference in motivation between groups. The students with E-books has a significant higher motivation to study the instructional material as the other group. Another example is the project of Kathy Parker, a library media specialist in an Illinois school district. She started a project where she first placed 18 Kindle E-readers into the hands of seventh and eighth grade students, expanded that project with 117 Kindles in the middle schools and then started a project with second grade students and their teacher. The students were very positive about using the E-readers, and they learned to manage the E-reader quickly. Teachers found that the students had improved in their comprehension and their ability to take responsibility for their own learning (Barack, 2010).
Fourth, students who own tablets purchase and read more books than those who read print books alone (ProCon.org, 2014). The average tablet-owning US student reads 24 books per year on a tablet compared with 15 in print for those who do not own a tablet (LearnStuff, 2012). Based on the survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 30% of e-content readers say that they now spend more time reading than they used to due to the availability of e-content (Zickuhr, 2012). These show that students who own tablets are more motivated and encouraged to read more than what they can when using print media.
Fifth, tablets help students better prepare for a world immersed in technology. Early exposure to technology would help in preparing students for the technology-based workplace environment. According to a report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), the fastest growing and highest paying jobs in the United States are technology based. Also, employment in “computer and information systems” is expected to grow by 18% between 2010 and 2020 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). The use of tablets in school will serve as a training ground for students to be technologically-literate in order for them to be ready for the pictured growth of jobs in the future that deals with computer and technology literacy.
Sixth, print textbooks are heavy and can cause injuries while tablets weigh 1-2 pounds and are safer (ProCon.org, 2014).Pediatricians and chiropractors recommend that students carry less than 15% of their body weight in a backpack, but the weight of print textbooks in all subjects exceeds this percentage at nearly all grade levels from 1-12 (Adams, 2004). More than 13,700 kids, aged 5 to 18, were treated for backpack-related injuries in 2011-2012 according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission(Dallas, 2012). I have also experienced carrying a backpack jam-packed with many thick books when I was in elementary, and it was not a joke to carry a bag that was around one-eighth of my weight up to the 4th floor of the building. It gave me back strains every time I carried it. In my point of view, it would be better if paper books would be substituted by E-books.
Seventh, the use of e-books and tablets is a practical alternative to the Philippine educational system. Initial results in the adoption of E-book technology is very encouraging (De Luna, 2015). Moreover, the same study discovered that Filipino students are technologically adept and seem to be “natives” in this technology (De Luna, 2015). Moreover, with the high cost of printing and the high carbon footprint associated with paper books the use of E-books and tablets becomes a cost efficient alternative. Also, the fast paced development of technology would eventually render paper books obsolete.
Lastly, education experts in the US were convinced that the use of E-books and tablets over paper books is a better alternative. As a consequence, they submitted to the US Secretary of Education a recommendation on the adoption of E-books or tablets to replace paper books. For they believe that an interactive education and an up to date content are the key in improving the quality of education all across America (Federal Communications Commissions, 2012).
In summary, the benefits of using tablets or E-books far outweigh their costs. Looking at the presented arguments, tablets and E-books have many advantages that would aid the user to have an experience that can be offered by the 21st century-technology. Tablets and E-books can accommodate hundreds of books and users can save money by using them. As a result, tablets and E-books are good investment. Moreover, their features offer flexibility and convenience for teachers and students alike. With their ability to accommodate more books, learning becomes faster. In fact, owners of tablets and E-books read more books than those who do not according to Pew Internet and American Life Project. As a result, tablets and E-books help better prepare students to real life situations for a world that is technologically driven. Tablets and E-books are also safer because they are lighter to carry among school children. Also, the use of e-books and tablets is a practical option for its adaptability and cost implications. Finally, tablets and E-books are cheaper source of information. Hence, the time has come for schools to adopt tablets and E-books as textbooks in schools.
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