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The fifth in a sponsored series on reading & education

Friday, 26 June 2020

Physical Books vs. PDFs: Which are Better for Education?

Types of books

Technology continues to shape the landscape of education. Teachers and students alike rely on smart devices to exchange information, create forums for meaningful discussions, and access educational content. A massive shift in the last two decades has seen institutions of higher learning preferring the use of a portable document format (PDF) instead of physical books to train students. This article discusses the merits and demerits of using these two forms of passing on knowledge in a school setting.

PDFs Are Relatively Safer and More Efficient

When the Romans were engaged in the civil war of 48 BC, part of the library of Alexandria was burnt. Although the emperor at that time was Julius Caesar, and he did not mean for this to happen. Still, the world lost a vast repository of knowledge since there were no backups of the scrolls found in the collection. Likewise, if a fire breaks out in your local or school library, the chances are that none of the books will survive. It makes wholly depending on that medium for education risky since we can quite easily lose it in such an unfortunate event.

Storage technology has improved to the extent that a single pocket-sized hard drive can store all the information found in a typical school library. Moreover, there are redundant features that allow us to create multiple backups of the same data in different locations. So, if your local school server is experiencing some downtime, you can still access the same books (in PDF form) from other online repositories. It makes their use safer and more efficient in terms of preserving the knowledge contained in literature.

Escaping the Distractions of Using Smart Devices for Reading

Every student has to set aside time for doing their studies — either in school or at home. However, if the content they are engaging in is in a digital format, they may find it difficult to concentrate. Higher institutions of learning have started allowing their students to go to class with their laptops. They can take down notes and access several books simultaneously without having to carry the weight of their reading material.

Nevertheless, students can go to social media platforms while in class, and this can cause them to be distracted from the lecture. Instead of listening to their instructor, they can log in to a paper writing service to get their assignments done by others. Relying on physical books allows learners to remain focused on the lesson without having their concentration spans interrupted by unrelated notifications from their devices. Consequently, they can increase their engagement in class and improve their school performance.

Is Print Media Better than Digital for your Eyesight?

The debate as to whether using digital media for reading is more detrimental to your eyesight than print forms is still continuing. Admittedly, each of them comes with their own issues that you need to look out for. There are many ways of accessing PDFs:

  • E-readers
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Computer screens and laptops.

Still, the consensus remains the same - you should strive to take breaks in your study session to avoid straining your eyes. Arguments are claiming that reading a physical book in natural light is the best way to prevent you from developing a headache.

Moreover, technology has enabled us to create blue-light filters and other antiglare tools to help us remain fixed on our computer screens for longer durations. In this case, you must maintain a habit of looking away every so often so that you can avoid straining yourself as you do your studies.
Physical Books Are More Expensive and Less Environmentally Friendly
As we move towards a greener way of doing things, we must consider the cost of printing books in terms of the trees we need to cut down.

Moreover, a physical copy of a book is much more expensive than paying for a membership on an online repository containing the PDF form of the same literature. Since the population of students in schools are on the rise, we must look towards more efficient ways of ensuring all of them have access to the course books.

Additionally, you will not need to wait for someone else to return the book to your school library for you to borrow it. PDFs allow everyone to engage with the same content from different locations. So, the verdict is — PDFs offer more flexibility and access to academic literature than physical books. Thus, it makes sense for learning institutions to facilitate access to online repositories for their students instead of investing in building larger libraries.

See also

Physical Books vs. PDFs: Which are Better for Education?

Does the Type of Books determine the Level of Education you will attain?

A Top Book Platform for Academic Success

Fantastic Reads on Classical Education

Books on Education you ought to read

What Types of Books do we need for Our Education? Here are Some Tips!

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