Textbook Types and Popularity

By Carlie Little, COM 250 Reporter

Edited by Taylor Corley, COM 303 Editor

MOUNT BERRY, Ga.- Online textbooks are becoming more prominent in college courses but literary experts say printed texts are the most effective way to learn.

Online textbooks are more accessible now more than ever. This rise in popularity increases the need for students to know which text is best for them. In the past the answer has been print, but now it is evident that the answer is circumstantial. According to Dr. Carolyn Stufft, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, students read and comprehend online texts differently than print texts.

“What I really view as the issue is not whether or not we should be using digital texts, but rather we need to understand they’re here,” Stufft said. “We need to help students understand how to navigate those texts because the comprehension is different.”

Online textbooks can be distracting for students causing them to forget what they read because they are not focused and lose metacognition, which is how someone understands their thought process. Students tend to read online texts quicker than print, resulting in lower comprehension.

“Due to the time spent on devices in modern time, studies have shown that a lack of focus and attention in humans with ADD and ADHD is more prevalent in today’s society, said Brain Campbell, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies. “Screen time makes focusing on online texts nearly impossible. A person can’t obtain long term information using online texts.”

Students require individualized styles of learning and Anna Sharpe, Director of the Academic Success Center, recommends that students reflect on how they learn and decide whether online or print textbooks work better for them.

“Each student really needs to reflect on their own strategies and preferences,” Sharpe said. “Students should go with what works for them.”

The convince of online textbooks also adds to their appeal. Generally online texts are less expensive than new copies of a print textbooks and students can access books on their laptop instead of taking up space in their backpack. Also, the resources that come with online textbooks, such as screen readers and study tools, can be beneficial for students with learning differences.

“Having multiple inputs can be great for people who have processing differences or disabilities,” Sharpe said.

Psychology professor Dr. Alan Hughes said that online textbooks are not significantly better than print textbooks because they are both two dimensional. He believes that students learn best when they engage with three dimensional objects because it is more interactive than reading. However, some of the tools offered by online texts can be more effective than using print texts alone.

“Usually online textbooks are more engaging,” Hughes said. “Most online texts are more than just words on a page. They offer other tools to help you study too, which can be more effective than a print textbook.”

Stufft said that although online textbooks have become more popular over the years, now younger readers prefer print over online. She believes that classes will go back to using primarily print textbooks.

With contributions from Connor Gates.

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