“It’s not that we use technology, we live technology.” (Reggio). The students of the twenty-first century enter in the classrooms as digital experts with an adequate knowledge of the usage of information technology. Modern Technology has replaced many of the traditional modes that people had previously been using since centuries. For instance, email has replaced the speediest means of communication in the past, telegram. Reading habits also have revolutionized over the past twenty-five years with e-books and power point presentations have replaced traditional textbooks. People are now more interested in visual media like movies and documentaries rather than paper textbook and novels. Students are less likely to be attracted to use printed books with overfilled pages and find them a difficult source of getting an education. So why should they be forced to read lengthy textbooks and novels in classes?
Educational researchers claim that electronic devices motivate and improve learning of the reader. In this scientific world of computer and digital technology, students should not be expected to read from printed textbooks because they are comparatively more inconvenient, inefficient and eco-unfriendly. Printed books are less convenient because not only they are the costly and weighty mode of learning but it is also very difficult to update them. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed that too many students are using textbooks that are 7-10 years old with the outdated material (Federal Communications Commission). Books are not readily present in an updated version, although there is a constant development in the field of literature and science. As the world is making progress in the field of modern technology, traditional learning methodologies should be updated and improved with the use of latest technology.
Traditional textbooks are very costly as compare to e-books. The use of technology minimizes the expense and makes the required material more readily accessible. A report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2012 showed that primary and secondary school districts spend more than eight billion dollars per year on textbooks (Federal Communications Commission). It is very inconvenient for young children to handle lengthy books and novels with thousands of pages. The sight of students leaned back by the weight of 16 pounds of their textbooks in backpacks seems inhumane. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “During the 2011-12 school year more than 13,700 kids, aged 5 to 18, were treated for backpack-related injuries” (Dallas). However, these days 1000 books take only one gigabyte of space on any electronic device with manageable small size. Latest technology provides ease of storage and sharing due to the presence of software like cloud computing and Internet of Things (IOT). Technology makes life convenient because of its portability and availability.
Furthermore, textbooks are incredibly inefficient as they have long chapters dense with data that may or may not be relevant to the reader. Students’ frustration level increases with a higher rate while reading textbooks and novels, especially non-fictional because they consider this a dry mode of education. This in return, creates a great hindrance in the content resonating with the students. In contrast, visual imagery in classrooms helps students to better gain and remember information because human’s mind is an image processor, not a word processor. This technology is highly user-friendly and customized because it is made on a belief that students will remember what they see.
Features such as word pronunciation, narration, animations and sound effects, which support the text, all help to remove the effort from decoding individual words and allow the student to focus on meaning (Fox 522.). Research indicates that people generally remember what they see and hear rather than what they read. The appropriate use of digital visuals makes abstract notions more welcoming and tangible for students by making learning more retentive and long lasting. According to Ciampa K. (2012), “It appeared that the word-by-word matching and 3D animated features helped to capture all the participants’ attention, assist in the learning of new words, and sustain attentive listening during the read aloud without being distracted or influenced by their peers or External stimuli” (qtd. in Fox 522).
The use of technologies like Moodle Blackboards and Flipped classrooms make lectures potentially more engaging for students. Digital technologies improve learning by debating and linking learning activities. For example, in a choreography lesson, two classes in different schools may be connected via the internet to analyze culture diversity in relation to a specific global environmental issue such as climate change or pollution. The groups can research together to understand not just the problem itself but its impact on social units and individuals (Cambridge International Examination). Digital technology promotes active learning, research, builds understanding, and exploration for the students that replace monotonous learning techniques.
Digital technology is an environmentally friendly alternative to printed books. The environmental costs of book production are pollution and deforestation. The dispose of methods of books increases the carbon footprints in an environment that causes global warming. Research shows that “Two billion books are produced in America in one year. To get the paper for these books requires consuming 32 million trees where one tree yields enough paper for 62.5 books. The two hundred million free e-books downloaded from Project Gutenberg and the WEF saved three million and two hundred thousand trees.
Moreover, printing a single book has a carbon footprint of about 7.5kg CO2” (Zorba). Technology saves trees and reduces greenhouse gas emission. Multiple users can access the same e-book simultaneously, whereas the same book in paper form can only be used by a single person. A very practical example of this situation is when multiple students try to borrow the same book from the library and have to wait for their turn. However, if the same book is available in electronic format, there is no limitation to the number of students accessing it. A student helps the planet earth by using technology rather than paper books due to its eco-friendly advantages.
Critics claim that the proliferation of information technology is accompanied with fears of dangerous and negative side-effects for the user. Technological devices are often associated with numerous health problems. Constant use of screen not only results in eye strain but prolonged sitting in front of the screen causes back fatigue and muscle soreness. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which includes headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and musculoskeletal disorders like fibromyalgia and fatigue, are often associated with the long use of screen (iStrain). However, there is also another side to health concerns surrounding visual technology. Gould and Grischkowsky carried a study to evaluate the correlation between screen use and user fatigue levels. “They obtained responses to a 16-item ‘Feelings Questionnaire’ after each of six 45-minute work periods.
This questionnaire required subjects to rate their fatigue, levels of tension and mental stress. Various visual measurements were also taken at the beginning of the day and after each work period. Neither questionnaire responses nor visual measures showed a significant effect for presentation medium” (Dillon 1297-1326). These results directed to conclude that good-quality Visual Digital Units in themselves do not produce fatiguing effects rather fatigue is a byproduct of over time reading from average quality screens. This shows that better quality of technological devices does not harm human health.
In conclusion, students should not be forced to read extensive textbooks and novel in this high-tech world. Education is meant to prepare students for practical life and not supposed to bore them. With the advancements in the field of technology, we now have more convenient, efficient and environmentally friendly methods of acquiring knowledge. The use of traditional textbooks and novels should be minimized and they should be replaced by digital technological devices. Research shows that addition of digital processing systems in class curriculum adds value for both students and teachers. Technology based education changes the way of reading. Books and technology should work together as a source of information to provide the best experience to students.
Graphics designers can work together with publishers and make better learning tools for interactive classes. Computer hardware developers can try to make digital screens more user-friendly by giving high screen resolutions and bigger dimensions. Collaboration between the technology providers and publishers would help students to improve academically. Students of today are the future of the world tomorrow and should be provided with latest tools and incentives to help them stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and benefit from their use. Exposure to technology early in life helps students to be prepared for the world immersed with technology.
Cambridge International Examination. “Digital Technologies in Class Rooms.” Education brief 5. Nov 2015. Web. Mar 2017.
Dallas, Mary Elizabeth. “Overloaded Backpacks Can Injure Kids: Experts.” HealthDay. Aug. 26, 2012.
Dillon, A. (1992) “Reading from paper versus screens: a critical review of the empirical literature.” Ergonomics, 35(10), 1297-1326.
Federal Communications Commission, “Digital Textbook Playbook.” Feb. 1, 2012. Web.
Fox, Leah C.C., “Effects of Technology on Literacy Skills and Motivation to Read and Write” (2014). Education and Human Development Master’s Theses. Paper 522.
“iStrain: Tablets and iPads Can Cause Eye Problems.” New York Daily News. Mar. 14, 2012. Web.
Reggio Godfrey. “Essence of Life.” Dir. Carson Greg. MGM Home Entertainment, 2002. Film (DVD).
Zorba. “Ebooks Save Millions of Trees: 10 Ideas For Sustainable Publishing.” Epublishers Weekly. September 28, 2009. Web. March 4, 2017.
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