It's been almost 10 years since tablets and iPads were introduced into the world. Since then, people have found ways to replace old, traditional material in classrooms for the new shiny toys. But is using technology instead of traditional books in a classroom really better for the students? Let's break it down.

Here are a few reasons why a tablet in the classroom is better:

1. Helpful for students with learning disabilities

Tablets are helpful in settings where traditional learning cannot be used. For example, Lauren Holloway, a special education preschool teacher in New York says, the tablets can often be more engaging and interactive for students who otherwise struggle in the classroom.

“The iPad is portable, durable, and conducive to activities where just a pointer finger is used.” Holloway explained. She adds that, “The inherent interactive features of an iPad are far more likely to engage both students who have an aversion to more traditional teaching methods, and those with attention difficulties.” 

They also have a better lit screen, options to increase reading material size, and other functions that help students with learning disabilities.

2. Better understanding of material

According to researchers at Missouri State University, students reported that learning from a tablet made it easier to understand the material. Findings from the study proved that students were more engaged and were able to interact and shape the story as opposed to reading it in print.

Other studies also found that tablets helped high school students understand complicated topics like science better. Students were able to understand complex topics like the solar system and space by interacting with the material on a screen than on paper or a whiteboard. 

There are also some downsides to the transition:

1. It's a distraction

A principal at a school in Australia decided to remove tablets and return to textbooks, because teachers noticed that tablets were a distraction and caused students to play online while in class.

"[Students] could have messages popping up and all sorts of other alerts," said Principal Pitcairn. "Also, kids being kids, they could jump between screens quite easily, so would look awfully busy and not be busy at all." 

2. Students learn more from print textbooks than screens

Although tablets help with math and science skills, print textbooks are better for comprehension and deep thinking. A study conducted in 2018 found that a student's overall comprehension and response to specific questions were significantly better when they read printed texts. 

A compromise:

There is middle ground, though. Some schools offer a BYOD program, also known as Bring Your Own Device, that allows students to bring their own tablets and laptops into the classroom. Jesuit High School in Carmichael is one of the many schools that offers this program to better serve the learning needs of their students.

Schools are also offering digital downloads of textbooks so students can leave the hard copy at school and read assignments on a device at home. 

What do you think? Should schools return to paper textbooks? Join the conversation on Facebook.