What is the deal?
Abstract: To read text on paper or on a computer screen is an everyday business for university students but which do they prefer? In this paper a research conducted at Reykjavik University in Iceland discussed. The focus is on university students’ attitudes to use books versus computers in they study. The research shows that students like both learning by reading books and from computers, they use computers frequently in their study but also books and paper and pencil. Key words: Learning; Computer attitudes; Book attitudes
Development of computer technology has changed working methods and everyday life in countries where access to computers and the Internet is common. This has also influenced teaching and learning styles and methods. If we think back 20-30 years most students searched for knowledge in books and other printed material but after 1990 the use of computers and the Internet as a source of information became an influential option and after the turn of the century the Internet is probably the main resources for information search, both among students and lecturers. In 1989 Internet users were about half a million but in 2006 they were over a billion .
The Internet offers many opportunities for educational purposes where search for information is hardly limited with growing number of good databases with high quality academic material e.g. ACM digital library, Britannica online and ScienceDirect as an example. Teachers and students have not only the opportunity to search for information; they also have fast running programs for information processing and presentation. Learning management systems (LMS) offer communication, distribution of material and a variety of opportunities for organising teaching and learning. Research focused on computers has had different focus during the years from computer anxiety and computer use to information and communication (ICT) use and in resent years computer games as a source for learning have gained increased attention. Among other research in Iceland a study on methods for evaluating computer anxiety and attitudes toward computers was done in 1990  but the main research on ICT in education, so far, was conducted under the project LearnICT in 2002-2005, a project funded by the Research Council of Iceland under the Information Technology research program (see namust.khi.is). Results from the LearnICT project suggest that students in upper secondary schools and universities in Iceland are using computers in they study, they are using word processing programs, making slides, searching the web and using LMS .
Many studies have been conducted on ICT in education with different focus where computer attitudes have been a popular subject of interest but research on attitudes towards books seems to be of little interest although books have been the main source of information in education over the centuries. Garland and Noyes  have looked at students’ attitudes toward books and computers as learning support and in their research on 217 individuals they found no significant difference between participants’ attitudes - IV.9-1 -
International Conference on Computer Systems and Technologies - CompSysTech’07 toward books and computers. Garland and Noyes  designed Boks And Ccomputers (BAC) questionnaire and in a study of 274 participants the main result was that students preferred books rather than computers but as the authors say “…many respondents (close to 40%) pointed out – they are different tools and both are equally useful” (p. 361). In Iceland access to computers is quite common. Computers are almost in every company with good connection to the Internet and computers are in 86% of homes and most of them (83%) connected to the Internet in 2006 . At the university level many students have laptops and they have access to computers both within and outside the...