[Opinion] Physical textbooks are better than online textbooks


Physical textbooks and online textbooks are both being utilized this school year. Each version has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Photo by Destiny Cazeau

Ethan Lin, Writer

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, schools across Broward County, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, have switched to virtual learning. As a result, the use of online textbooks for school has undoubtedly increased.         

Physical and online textbooks essentially do the same job of providing students with important knowledge and information; However, physical textbooks are superior in many ways to their online counterparts. Physical textbooks are easier to use, better suited to help readers retain information, and do not cause any problems associated with technology.

Virtual textbooks are less convenient as they are more difficult to access. The process of acquiring a textbook online is much more complicated than simply opening a physical textbook. Students have to click through multiple pages on Canvas to get to their desired textbook, and many virtual books have a different page number assigned than in its original copy.

Physical textbooks also allow students to learn better. According to The State Press, reading from a digital textbook makes it extremely easy for students to click off their textbooks and hop onto another website. 

This action prevents students from learning at their full potential and could cause them to do worse in school. For example, if students utilize their class time to play games or look at social media instead of completing their reading assignments, they will miss crucial information that might even be on their next test.

Virtual textbooks are much more problematic than paper textbooks. They are accessed through a computer, which leads to many potential problems. According to Study.com, teachers must worry about all the problems associated with technology, such as whether they have enough outlets to charge the devices, problems in the device’s interface, or different passages appearing on different pages, all of which cause confusion within the classroom.

Reading from digital textbooks could also be harmful to our eyes. Virtual textbooks are viewed from the screen of an electronic device, which emits blue light. According to MVC Eye Care, when our eyes are exposed to blue light for a long time, they might suffer from retinal damage, macular degeneration, and overall loss of vision.

On the contrary, digital textbooks also have their benefits. They are more portable, as you can carry multiple textbooks on one device. They usually cost much less than physical textbooks, some even being free. 

However, the main reason that we go to school is to get an education, and if reading from physical textbooks allows us to learn better, then spending money and having to carry them on your back is well worth it.

Throughout our entire lives, students have been learning from physical textbooks. It is what we are used to and suddenly switching to online textbooks presents students with another uncomfortable adjustment. 

According to ValueWalk, people are more likely to choose what they are used to instead of an alternate choice unless it is clear that the alternate choice provides an advantage. The pandemic has already caused very much confusion in students’ lives, bringing many changes to schools. Using digital textbooks is just adding to the changes and increasing the confusion. 

All in all, physical textbooks and digital textbooks both have their advantages and disadvantages. However, physical textbooks are arguably better because they allow us to learn better, cause fewer problems, are easier to access and do not harm your eyes.