Paper Books or eBooks: Which One Is Preferable?

Nowadays you can hardly imagine your life without a modern and sophisticated gadget in a pocket. It can certainly facilitate the learning process for students. Is this growing influence of technology as effective and useful as it seems to be at first sight?

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Digital Reading: How Effective Is It?

Modern schools, colleges, and universities are equipped with up-to-date screens, tablets and computers. Students have unlimited access to e-textbooks in the Internet libraries. They admit that digital reading is more convenient. E-readers literally take weight from shoulders, as they are able to download hundreds of books on their gadgets. In such a way there is no need to carry a heavy bag full of books. One more thing to be considered is that digital reading is much more environmentally friendly. In addition, it costs less, so students save money using educational resources online. To sum up, e-books offer flexibility in the classroom.

However, recent research showed that e-reading influences students’ academic achievements which are likely to suffer. Hanho Jeong, professor at Chongshin University, Seoul, South Korea, conducted an experiment concerning the practice of using electronic and paper books with purposeful measures. 56 students of a public school were involved in this study. It was organized in the following way: pre‐CFF measurement, paper/e‐book reading, post‐CFF measurement, a quiz, and a questionnaire.

The study proved that paper books enable better reading comprehension, because usually e-book scrolling negatively affects students’ concentration. What is more, students admit having less eye fatigue after reading a printed book. Some of them also state that there is nothing like the smell and the soft texture of paper.

Moreover, linking, highlighting, and bookmarks are certainly great advantages of printed books. There is a connection between our body moves and cognition: the actions we do with print books seem to be useful for us in understanding and remembering information better.

In addition, Harvard Medical School proved with its study  that the light electronic gadgets cause sleep disturbance. It can adversely impact overall health. “We found the body’s natural circadian rhythms were interrupted by the short-wavelength enriched light, otherwise known as blue light, from these electronic devices,” said Anne-Marie Chang, corresponding author and associate neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders.

Purpose to Be Taken into Account

There are different types of reading, such as scanning, skimming, study reading, and reading for pleasure. The point is that the choice of one or another medium should be based on the purpose of reading. For example, e-books are perfect for skimming and scanning. For tasks that demand deeper understanding, printed books are better. So, there is place for both media.

Marc Slater, director of 7 Speed Reading, said, “Clearly, the winner in this round is none other than the person doing the reading, no matter which method they choose. With all of the options available in the market, there simply is no way to not enjoy reading. After all, there are so many books to pick up and read out there — both in printed form or e-book version — that we should be concentrating on reading as many as we can, in whatever format suits us best.”

It goes without saying that learning process in the 21 century is impossible without the usage of modern technologies. It stands to reason that e-reading should go hand-in-hand with digital one to meet the requirements of the current curriculum, and surely their application should be balanced and controlled.

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