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Textbooks vs. E-Books in the College Classroom

by  Jones & Bartlett Learning     Jun 1, 2022
Friends studying together

There are four types of learning in education: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing, and educators are expected to research the best tools available to personalize the experience and optimize learning. Textbooks are a source of truth for both educators and students, and now, more than ever, publishers are adding more content that appeals to all learners. Textbooks are here to stay, but as e-books rise in popularity, what are the considerations between online and print texts in the classroom?

 

The benefits of e-textbooks

Although print textbooks are still widely used, e-textbooks have been trending upward for many years. What is driving the choice of digital or printed texts?

 

Reduced cost of e-books vs. print books

The escalating cost of college tuition and residence forces students to find savings wherever possible. The affordability of printed textbooks is a significant concern for most students, and lower cost is possibly the most frequently cited reason for choosing e-books vs. print books.

The concern around the cost of printed textbooks is ironic given the high price of electronic devices, such as laptop computers, cell phones, and monthly ISP fees. However, most students prioritize electronic devices in their overall college education budget. They need (or want) them for many other purposes outside of education, so most are already equipped with the necessary computing power to use e-books.

 

Age affects attitudes to e-books

According to one research survey, younger students and undergraduate students were more likely to report using e-textbooks than older and graduate students. However, this finding may be a function of faculty requirements rather than student preference.

 

E-books allow for a wide variety of devices

There is great flexibility in the devices a student can use when studying with e-textbooks vs. print books. Users can access materials on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and/or Android device. Many choices exist, and the user can easily switch from one type of device to another. Cloud capabilities allow users to work on their laptops, then quickly pivot to their phone or tablet to pick up where they left off.

 

Interactive features of e-textbooks

Some advanced features found in electronic resources may be driving increased use due to the enhanced interactivity and learning opportunities they provide. Electronic resources of the past included strictly text. More recent resources offer highly valued features, including:

  • Links to additional references
  • Ability to annotate
  • Highlighting tools
  • Embedded interactive quizzes

In addition, multimedia e-books include graphic illustrations, animations, and videos to supplement the text. However, it's important to note that e-book designs with too many forms of multimedia presented at once can be detrimental to learning outcomes.

 

Mayer’s redundancy principle

In discussing his seven multimedia learning principles, Mayer refers to the redundancy principle. This principle warns that people have a limited capacity to process too many forms of media simultaneously. Despite the advantages of using e-textbooks, those which incorporate too many features may detract from their value as learning tools.

When choosing e-textbooks for their coursework, faculty should consider the design of lessons and the number of concurrent multimedia types.

 

Other reasons students and educators prefer e-textbooks:

  • Cost-savings for the student
  • Accessibility features
  • Easier to bring and reference in the classroom
  • Built-in study tools

 

The benefits of college textbooks

With so many advantages to using e-textbooks, what reasons are there for choosing the traditional printed textbook? With many in the world still accustomed to paper and ink, the reason may be that people prefer the familiarity of holding a book. However, digging deeper reveals that there are some practical benefits of college textbooks.

 

Printed books may help avoid distractions

For some, using a traditional textbook presents a lower chance of being distracted compared to using e-books. Think of how easy it is to switch gears when a video game is in a window behind an online textbook. Taking a break from the electronic world to hold a printed text and take notes in the margins may keep some students more fully engaged, which increases retention of the material.

 

The handwriting effect

One study suggests that handwritten notes on paper are a more effective memory aid than writing with a tablet's stylus. Cognitive scientists have shown that the neural processes involved in handwriting may positively affect the brain's ability to encode new information.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo found that handwriting notes in the margins enhance spatial and tactile learning. This explains why we remember that a note made in a textbook is on the left side of a book halfway down the page. In addition, the human brain takes spatial and tactile cues from handwriting, such as touching the pen while forming letters and feeling the paper. The result is that these additional pieces of information work as triggers to help pull information from memory.

 

Technical challenges

Remote and international students may not have unlimited internet access or download capacity. These limits and the possibility of power outages may warrant the choice of a printed textbook that they know will always be accessible.

 

Other reasons students and educators prefer printed textbooks:

  • Ability to resell printed textbooks vs. the time-limited use of some e-books
  • Ability to keep printed textbooks for future reference
  • Reading printed texts to avoid blue light on screens may help reduce poor sleep
  • No concern about the number of electrical outlets in the classroom to recharge devices

 

E-textbooks or printed textbooks?

Should students swipe the screen or flip the page? In short, the great debate between e-textbooks vs. traditional textbooks depends very much on user preference. The factors driving the decision are influenced by myriad issues, including cost, learning styles, and who makes the decision – faculty or student.

Jones & Bartlett Learning recognizes that both e-books and printed textbooks have a place in the college classroom, which is why our editors prioritize creating both formats for each publication. New print textbooks include an access code that unlocks an interactive e-book and learning tools on our Navigate platform.

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Textbooks vs. E-Books in the College Classroom

by  Jones & Bartlett Learning     Jun 1, 2022
Friends studying together

There are four types of learning in education: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing, and educators are expected to research the best tools available to personalize the experience and optimize learning. Textbooks are a source of truth for both educators and students, and now, more than ever, publishers are adding more content that appeals to all learners. Textbooks are here to stay, but as e-books rise in popularity, what are the considerations between online and print texts in the classroom?

 

The benefits of e-textbooks

Although print textbooks are still widely used, e-textbooks have been trending upward for many years. What is driving the choice of digital or printed texts?

 

Reduced cost of e-books vs. print books

The escalating cost of college tuition and residence forces students to find savings wherever possible. The affordability of printed textbooks is a significant concern for most students, and lower cost is possibly the most frequently cited reason for choosing e-books vs. print books.

The concern around the cost of printed textbooks is ironic given the high price of electronic devices, such as laptop computers, cell phones, and monthly ISP fees. However, most students prioritize electronic devices in their overall college education budget. They need (or want) them for many other purposes outside of education, so most are already equipped with the necessary computing power to use e-books.

 

Age affects attitudes to e-books

According to one research survey, younger students and undergraduate students were more likely to report using e-textbooks than older and graduate students. However, this finding may be a function of faculty requirements rather than student preference.

 

E-books allow for a wide variety of devices

There is great flexibility in the devices a student can use when studying with e-textbooks vs. print books. Users can access materials on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and/or Android device. Many choices exist, and the user can easily switch from one type of device to another. Cloud capabilities allow users to work on their laptops, then quickly pivot to their phone or tablet to pick up where they left off.

 

Interactive features of e-textbooks

Some advanced features found in electronic resources may be driving increased use due to the enhanced interactivity and learning opportunities they provide. Electronic resources of the past included strictly text. More recent resources offer highly valued features, including:

  • Links to additional references
  • Ability to annotate
  • Highlighting tools
  • Embedded interactive quizzes

In addition, multimedia e-books include graphic illustrations, animations, and videos to supplement the text. However, it's important to note that e-book designs with too many forms of multimedia presented at once can be detrimental to learning outcomes.

 

Mayer’s redundancy principle

In discussing his seven multimedia learning principles, Mayer refers to the redundancy principle. This principle warns that people have a limited capacity to process too many forms of media simultaneously. Despite the advantages of using e-textbooks, those which incorporate too many features may detract from their value as learning tools.

When choosing e-textbooks for their coursework, faculty should consider the design of lessons and the number of concurrent multimedia types.

 

Other reasons students and educators prefer e-textbooks:

  • Cost-savings for the student
  • Accessibility features
  • Easier to bring and reference in the classroom
  • Built-in study tools

 

The benefits of college textbooks

With so many advantages to using e-textbooks, what reasons are there for choosing the traditional printed textbook? With many in the world still accustomed to paper and ink, the reason may be that people prefer the familiarity of holding a book. However, digging deeper reveals that there are some practical benefits of college textbooks.

 

Printed books may help avoid distractions

For some, using a traditional textbook presents a lower chance of being distracted compared to using e-books. Think of how easy it is to switch gears when a video game is in a window behind an online textbook. Taking a break from the electronic world to hold a printed text and take notes in the margins may keep some students more fully engaged, which increases retention of the material.

 

The handwriting effect

One study suggests that handwritten notes on paper are a more effective memory aid than writing with a tablet's stylus. Cognitive scientists have shown that the neural processes involved in handwriting may positively affect the brain's ability to encode new information.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo found that handwriting notes in the margins enhance spatial and tactile learning. This explains why we remember that a note made in a textbook is on the left side of a book halfway down the page. In addition, the human brain takes spatial and tactile cues from handwriting, such as touching the pen while forming letters and feeling the paper. The result is that these additional pieces of information work as triggers to help pull information from memory.

 

Technical challenges

Remote and international students may not have unlimited internet access or download capacity. These limits and the possibility of power outages may warrant the choice of a printed textbook that they know will always be accessible.

 

Other reasons students and educators prefer printed textbooks:

  • Ability to resell printed textbooks vs. the time-limited use of some e-books
  • Ability to keep printed textbooks for future reference
  • Reading printed texts to avoid blue light on screens may help reduce poor sleep
  • No concern about the number of electrical outlets in the classroom to recharge devices

 

E-textbooks or printed textbooks?

Should students swipe the screen or flip the page? In short, the great debate between e-textbooks vs. traditional textbooks depends very much on user preference. The factors driving the decision are influenced by myriad issues, including cost, learning styles, and who makes the decision – faculty or student.

Jones & Bartlett Learning recognizes that both e-books and printed textbooks have a place in the college classroom, which is why our editors prioritize creating both formats for each publication. New print textbooks include an access code that unlocks an interactive e-book and learning tools on our Navigate platform.

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