Textbooks: Necessary, or Outdated?

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Textbooks have been the primary teaching instrument for students since the 19th century, making a huge impact on how students learn. However, as digital technology has overtaken the world, it has shifted how students use textbooks to gain access to knowledge.

Whether on paper or online, there is a sizable cost. According to the National Association of College Stores, in 2018-19 students spent an average of $415 on course materials, $419 on technology, and $108 on supplies.

Technology Takeover

Online textbooks, Google, smartphone apps and other digital tools are becoming the biggest sources of knowledge for students today seeking help with classes and assignments. Even children in elementary school use tablets and online games to help sharpen their senses and test their different subject abilities.

Lindsey Brewer, a senior from Lubbock, said, “I just became a teacher and even in student teaching, I saw how much the students used technology over textbooks. It was really interesting to see, just because it was so different from when I was in that grade. But the kids seemed to be more inclined to listen and learn through their tablets rather than books.”

Are Textbooks Doomed?

From a certain perspective, it would seem textbooks are dying and online devices are taking their place. To an extent that is true, but old-school paper textbooks are still being used and hold an important place in classes, especially at the university level.

Some professors apparently don’t feel that learning through technology is better than hitting the books right in front of your face, so for their courses they assign a textbook for the term and other textbooks to help with assignments and tests.

Hannah Sherrard, a sophomore from Lubbock, said, “I had so many textbooks I had to order this year. Not that it was a bad thing — in a way it was kind of nice to have the information right there and I could highlight it and go right back to it whenever I wanted. But I would say I definitely had more classes with textbooks than without.”

A Little Bit of Both

As time and techniques change, it’s important to understand that, while the method of getting information may vary, the resources are still the same. Textbooks may lack popularity, but they still hold a significant place in classrooms.

For more reading about the future of textbooks, visit https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-death-of-textbooks/387055/.

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