TABLETS VS. TEXTBOOKS IN AMERICAN K-12 SCHOOLS
In the present-day America tablets constitute more than $70 billion industry with about 40 % of the US adults owning this electronic device. Since tablets have become commonplace and even more prevailing than textbooks, in the last few years society has been agitated by a new debate whether K-12 schools should substitute print textbooks with digital textbooks placed on tablets or e-readers.
In 2010 the US Department of Education published its National Education Technology Plan with specifications on potential improvement of learning with technology in American Schools, one of the recommendations being to leverage the common use of mobile digital devices. As consequence, in 2012 the Department in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission released a special downloadable program “Digital Textbook Playbook” with the aim to “encourage collaboration, accelerate the development of digital textbooks and improve the quality and penetration of digital learning in K-12 public education” (Federal Communications Commission 46-60).
Indeed, due to numerous updated technical possibilities, practical mobility and up-to-date interactive facilities, common implementation of electronic devices appear to open a new era in the system of world education. Considering valuable opportunities which this innovation can invest in learning, cognition and information exchanging processes, national system of education is about to make an important proactive breakthrough. Nonetheless, the debate on this decisive step has its proponents and opponents, each side presenting their reasonable arguments. As a matter of course, opponents of tablets predominantly insist on substantial financial costs to be faced with implementation of tablets in K-12 schools.
According to official statistics, the average cost of digital textbooks is 50-60% less than the charge of new print textbooks. Although, practical implementation of the new technological corpus is supposed to take additional costs that will cover building Wi-Fi infrastructure, special training of the staff as well as annual publisher fee to support further using e-books (Wilson). The second counterargument is that e-devices can be potentially harmful to health. In these terms tablets are supposed to contribute to headaches, eyestrain or blurred vision and, therefore, increase valid pretexts for students not to do their homework. On the other hand, the use of e-devices has become inevitable in the era of newer technologies.
Thus, the average use of using computers in classrooms increased from 51 % in 1998 to 98 % in 2012 with 40 % of school teachers using devices during in-class instruction (The AVG Digital Diaries Report 6-14). Meanwhile, with 43% of Americans are reported to read daily online books, newspapers or magazines as well as to use computers for work and leisure time, the expansion of e-devices seems to be a logical and practically inevitable consequence of the contemporary Internet era. With regard to the ‘health’ argument, however, one more thing should be considered.
According to 2012 peer-reviewed study published in Archives of Disease of Childhood, a student’s backpack should averagely weight 15.4 pounds with 3-4 books normally. Importantly, pediatricians recommend that students carry 15 % of their …