5. Drawing conclusions:
Should tablets replace textbooks in K-12 schools?
Draw your own conclusion based on the evidence:
1. Read all of the arguments in favor of (PRO) and against (CON) replacing textbooks with tablets. 2. Decide which side presents the strongest evidence. In other words, which side do you consider more convincing? 3. Share, discuss and justify your decision with classmates.
Using a tablet is so intuitive that it makes learning fun and easy. In two isolated rural villages in Ethiopia, the One Laptop Per Child organization dropped off closed boxes containing tablets pre-loaded with educational apps, taped shut, with no instruction. Within five days, elementary school-age students without prior education were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs, and within five months they had successfully hacked the tablet's operating system and customized the desktop settings.
| Tablets may be too difficult for less-technologically-savvy students to operate. When Daytona State College conducted an electronic textbook focus group, the most common reason given for withdrawing from the group was "I did not feel that I had the technical ability to read or reference my textbook from a computer."
| Students who own tablets purchase and read more books than those who read print books alone. The average tablet-owning US student reads 24 books per year on a tablet compared with 15 in print for those who do not own a tablet. According to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 30% of e-content readers (including 40% of those under age 30) say that they now spend more time reading than they used to due to the availability of e-content.
| Many textbooks are not available in digital format or on the specific tablet used by a school. As of 2012, only 30% of textbook titles are available electronically. There are many different companies that manufacture tablets, and most contract with one specific e-book seller. This means that some textbooks may not be sold across all tablets.
| High-level education officials support tablets over textbooks. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission chair Julius Genachowski said on Feb. 1, 2012 that schools and publishers should "switch to digital textbooks within five years to foster interactive education, save money on books, and ensure classrooms in the US use up-to-date content." The federal government, in collaboration with several tech organizations, released a 70-page guide for schools called the "Digital Textbook Playbook," a "roadmap for educators to accelerate the transition to digital textbooks."
| Tablets shift the focus of learning from the teacher to the technology. This change marginalizes decades of learned wisdom in the teaching profession in favor of an unproven technology. According to education reformer Mike Schmoker, until the core elements of literacy and critical thinking are learned by every student, "it makes little sense to adopt or learn new programs, technology, or any other innovations." Technology gets in the way and makes learning and teaching more burdensome.
| Files on one tablet can be downloaded onto any other tablet, increasing flexibility and convenience for teachers and students. E-textbooks and other files can be stored on "cloud” servers and accessed on any equivalent device. Users can sign into an account on a different device and access all of their information.
| Tablets increase the number of excuses available for students not doing their schoolwork. Students have new available excuses, including: "the tablet broke/froze," "I forgot the tablet at home so I can't do schoolwork today," and "I couldn't find my charger."
| Tablets allow teachers to better customize student learning. There are thousands of education and tutoring applications on tablets, so teachers can tailor student learning to an individual style/personality...
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