Which would you choose? – #ictedu

One of the main components of learning is reading.  But what is the best medium for reading?  In the recent years there has been a lot of arguing and debating between the fans of traditional print books and those who prefer the modern e-books.  Although most people would agree that the smell and texture of paper is part of what makes the reading so enjoyable, the benefits of digital reading material are undeniable also.

The arrival of e-books has drastically changed the education system all over the world.  One of the biggest advantages of using e-books in education is in their portability.  Instead of carrying a school bag full of heavy books some students are now required to possess a single small device which stores all of their study material.  By implementing the use of tablets in the classroom teachers can ensure that all students have the necessary books for every lesson, in a single gadget!  It helps to ensure that the study equipment is not left at home due to the student’s forgetfulness or because the schoolbag is too heavy to carry.

Without the massive books there is also no requirement for lockers and storage places.  Instead of having to repack the backpack every day, the students must only ensure to bring their tablet to school.  Instead of allocating an entire room as a library, extra reading material can be found and borrowed, or purchased, online and then stored on the tablet for as long as needed.   It is much easier to keep the study area nice and tidy.  The organisation of equipment becomes much easier as there are not so many books and note copies scattered around the place.

As digital books do not require paper, they are more environmentally friendly and cheaper to purchase.  These books can be accessed much quicker- by a simple download as opposed to paying and awaiting their postage or travelling to a bookshop.   There are also many discounts and deals available for the educational e-books which help to save money and make the lives of parents much easier.

The small size of tablets is also helpful at sustaining the health and safety of children as their backs are less likely to get damaged by the heavy weight of the school bags.

However digital books and tablets can have drawbacks also, and as a technological student, sometimes looking at screens for long periods of time can lead me to suffer from eye strain and discomfort.  Many of my fellow classmates who also work on screens for numerous hours every day, sometimes find that their vision gets blurry and their eyes can become irritated and fatigued.

The fact that not all books are available online is also a weakness.  Libraries have been around for a much longer time than tablets, and of course, they provide a bigger range of reading material.  The variety of e-books can quite limited in that many historical books may not yet be digitalised. In my experience from a previous project I completed, I found that online resources were lacking and the main resource for information of bygone times was in fact the library and museum. Yes there are many resources online but there will always be some areas that are lacking.

There is also the feeling of accomplishment when a student can physically see how much of the book has been gone through by the number of pages on the left compared to the number of the right.  It is a lovely way to see progression in a subject. It is also the experience of reading in the library itself and interacting with others in it is irreplaceable.  For me, that quiet space can prove invaluable to learning, because I can get the mind-space away from distractions and technology and focus on the matter at hand.  It is a breathing space place.  Albeit many libraries have computers, many of them also have spaces which are technology free, which to my mind is a great facility to have.  Sometimes, technology just gets in the way.  After all, most people nowadays have email, group chat, shared online work space and many other mediums on their phones, so to get away from all of that for a short while can be invaluable to recharging one’s personal batteries.

In comparison to a digital book whereby one may see the percentage complete in number form, there’s something very special about actually seeing the pages that have been covered. So, you do have e-books and you do have print books, but in the end it is often a personal preference as to which one is suitable for you.  For me personally, I prefer the printed book as I can physically see the amount of reading I have done.

There are some schools that seem to be giving the students some choices in this area.  A living example of this is a scheme piloted by a secondary school in Ballincollig in County Cork, whereby they introduced the use of iPads as part of the school curriculum for first year students in 2012.  The students and parents were given the choice at the time to take part in this pilot scheme.  Approximately half of the students opted to use the iPads.  We’re certainly curious to discover how this worked out since then.  Are you?

For another riveting read on print books vs e-books visit:




For more information relating to #ictedu, please visit:

Ictedu Information: http://www.lit.ie/ictedu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ICTedu

Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.ie/o/lit-thurles-6143436117 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICTinEducationConference

Written By Inese Vecele, a student at Limerick Institute of Technology Clonmel, along with her team Eiren McLoughlin, Claire Murray and  Glen Sweeny