Digital Health - Tablets or Books for School?

Category: Digital Health

Tablets or Books for School?

Dyana Macalino   September 24, 2018

With technology influencing the way students study and work, more and more schools are opting to use tablets instead of textbooks for students. One question in the minds of schools is how much technology is enough? A popular debate topic is the “texbook vs. computers” for learning and with technology being used in more classrooms, this debate won’t stop anytime soon. Learning tools in the form of tablets, computers, smart boards, and other machines are utilized in most schools which lead us to the question if textbooks should be replaced with tablets and notebook computers.

Computers - a helpful tool for everyone

It is a given that most people rely on computers. We use it to reach out and communicate with friends and family, research on a variety of topics, read news articles, plan our appointments, and many more. But what is the impact of technology with students as they study? Parents and teachers ask this everyday. Let’s have a look at effect of using tablets in school.

But what is the impact of technology with students as they study? Parents and teachers ask this everyday. Let’s have a look at effect of using tablets in school.

Tablet learning - advantages

Lighter school bags

A tablet can contain hundreds of textbooks as well as homework, quizzes, and other files. This removes the need for physical storage space and papers. The average backpack of a high school student is 18 pounds. With a tablet, the weight of heavy textbooks is eliminated and makes carrying a school bag easier.

Preparation for the future

The job of a school is to prepare its students for the future. As time goes on, technology will only keep innovating. Giving children a head start by immersing them in technology will give them computer related skills. Most careers are done using computers and a computer-centered approach to learning helps pave a future of career success

Shared communication

Tablets help communicate information between teachers and students. Documents, homework, and class activities can be shared to a teacher’s folder in seconds. Teachers can check on these files immediately and since they are stored virtually, teachers and students have easy access. This also works in reverse where teachers can send study materials and graded homework through shared folders.

Tablet learning - disadvantages


Computers can be used for both playing and learning. It can be difficult for students to separate “computer time for fun” and “computer time for school” which can lead to several distractions. Instead of focusing on lessons in class, students can browse social media media sites, check messages, or play mobile apps. There are numerous opportunities for distractions which can prevent a student from paying attention to the teacher.

High cost

Students from lower income families may not be able to purchase a tablet or computer for class. To require all students to purchase a tablet can create a financial strain on family on a tight budget. This can alienate students and force them to adjust in an environment where most of the lessons are done using technology. Tablets run the risk of being stolen if left unattended or getting wet. Textbooks cost less money and should it be lost or stolen, is easier to replace than a machine. Learning should not be limited to those who can afford it.

Charging issues

Lack of electricity could pose a problem for students if they go to school with a tablet they forgot to charge or running out of power in the middle of the day. Sockets in school could be limited and if a student cannot use their tablet in class, then they cannot access their learning materials for the day.

Textbook -advantages

Memory retention

Most students take notes when studying with a textbook. Kids who handwrite their notes have an easier time with remembering facts and lessons. It is easier to highlight, annotate, and make personalized marks on paper than e-books.

Reduces multitasking

Relying on tablets can encourage short attention spans and multi-tasking distractions. It’s easy to change from reading an ebook to playing a game, then messaging a friend instead of focusing on the lesson. With a textbook, a student can focus on reading and learning the material instead of getting distracted with notifications, apps, and internet browsing.

Low risk of theft and cheaper to replace

Though books are also prone to theft, it is easier and cheaper to replace compared to tablets. If a tablet is dropped or soaked in water, it may not work properly and parts or the whole unit has to be replaced. If something similar happened to a book, the price is more economical compared to buying a new tablet.

The verdict

Textbooks have been the tried and tested method of learning for many years. Books provide an opportunity for students to interact with their lessons. They can memorize facts easier via highlighting and taking notes. Lessons that require internet access may cause trouble in a classroom setting where stable and reliable wifi in the Philippines is still a problem. Computers can assist and supplement the lesson plan of a teacher through research and homework assistance but a student’s journey for learning should still be done using textbooks.


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Dyana Macalino

Dyana Macalino is a writer and editor specialist in health, lifestyle
and food. Follow her at @DyanaMacalino

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