Textbooks have been at the core of education for centuries. Afterall, the written word is how information has been passed from nation to nation, and from generation to generation. But, with the invention of the Internet and countless other technological advances, are textbooks still as crucial as they once were?
First of all, let’s look at their uses and benefits
For most subjects, the course is determined by the textbook. Merely, the contents provides a logical syllabus, and the layout gives a cohesive structure to lessons.
Textbooks are a key resource for both the student and the teacher. The teacher can set homework based on reading or questions in the textbook, and students are able to direct their own education as all the information required for the exam should be found in the textbook.
Also, textbooks are usually written by a leading expert in the field. So, you can be sure they’re reliable and they know what that they’re talking about. Plus, textbooks aren’t filled with unrelated ads and cookies.
If a student is lucky enough to own their own textbook, they can highlight, underline and annotate key bits of information.
Similarly, a textbook keeps all the information for a subject in one convenient place. Internet resources require copying, pasting and printing, before a student is able to piece it altogether.
Additionally, students are less likely to be distracted using a textbook. Of course, they may have their phone or laptop close by, but at least they have the option to turn them off, on silent, or leave them in the next room. Funny YouTube videos of cats and the latest Facebook message are only mere clicks away when students are using the Internet.
Finally, reading a textbook for hours on end is much better for a student’s eyes than staring at a screen for the same length of time. Bonus, textbooks don’t emit blue light that messes with our circadian rhythms and throws our sleeping patterns off course (it is said that one night of bad sleep impairs your reasoning abilities up to 4 days afterwards).
Is there anything they can’t do?
Well, yes. Once a textbook is printed and published, there’s no redoing the information. Further editions can be published, but this is not an instantaneous process and takes time. Whereas, the Internet is an ever-flowing stream of the latest information and research.
Textbooks are expensive. Many students cannot afford to buy the textbook for one subject, let alone textbooks for multiple subjects over multiple years; therefore, schools foot the bill and buy enough for each class at each stage. But textbooks need replacing when they’re damaged, lost, or the information is out of date. With already tight budgets, this isn’t ideal when the wealth of information on the Internet is free.
Textbooks are limited with the amount of information they contain. There are literally millions of webpages on every subject possible, and these pages are often linked to others, making it easy for a student to jump for page to page, amassing a mountain of knowledge about and around the subject.
Textbooks are still as essential as they once were. They contain the vital and reliable information required for an exam, which is clearly laid out for the student and teacher.
Students should be encouraged to use the textbook as their starting point but should also be taught how to find and evaluate information on the Internet. The Internet is a tremendous resource; therefore, students should be empowered to use it.
Learn more about Smartsquare.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash