The flip of a page versus the click of a mouse


Photo credit: Sarah Shanley

By Sarah Shanely, Intern

Our lives are continuously evolving along with technological advances and school is no exception. Senior Stephanie Schaefer has noticed the shift from paper to the computer throughout her high school career.

“(I noticed the shift) probably freshman year … so I got more used to it then,” she said. “Every teacher is different, it depends on the class.”

However, according to an article from BusinessInsider old-fashioned paper textbooks still hold merit over digital ones. The article cites a study that proves that students who read and study from print perform better on tests and quizzes because they comprehend more information. This is because it takes longer to read from a regular textbook.

 “There’s less distractions with it (on print), and just what’s there is what you need,” Shaefer said. “And online you can get distracted (and) find other websites and it’s easier to not be totally focused on what you’re doing.”

When history teacher Bridget Cooley began teaching at North she wasn’t given the option of allowing her students to use an online textbook, but in 2008 the district got a curriculum overhaul which then allowed it.

“We got a new edition of the textbook, and then the code came with it, so students were able to then access the online book,” Cooley said.

Both students and teachers notice the pros and cons of using actual textbooks versus online books. Junior Jillian Peters likes how accessible actual textbooks are but does not like the space it takes up in her already overflowing backpack. Schafer agrees that actual textbooks are easier to use, but a pain to carry around.

“With online books it’s easier to use it wherever you want, but you never know if the website will crash, or if you won’t have WiFi,” Schaefer said. “Regular books, you know where everything is, you can just flip to where you need to go, you’ll have it with you. The only thing is it gets annoying to carry around.”  

Some students also can have a harder time with relying on an online book because they don’t always have easy access to a computer.

“A lot of times I can’t access a computer, Peters said. “I have two siblings that are in high school and my mom also needs the computer, so it’s hard to manage who uses the computer at what time. Sometimes for homework I need to use a tutorial pass, but I don’t always get one, so then I can’t do my homework. If I have a textbook I can always do it.”

Contrary to the study, Cooley has not noticed a difference in her students’ grades, but said students who study and do their homework will always have a better outcome.

“I can’t speak specifically to a score differentiality between the online book and the hardcover textbook,” Cooley said. “I do really think that students that overall put effort in, whether that be online, whether that be on the hard cover book, they’re going to do better than students who don’t read, and for so many classes students don’t necessarily always read the text, so if you read the book that’s a great start whether it’s digital or hard cover.”