We can all agree reading is valuable for students, but you may get more varied opinions over the issue of online books vs. printed books. Is one option better for young learners than the other? Parents tend to be more familiar with print books and their benefits, so you may be dubious about using e-books in place of print. However, as we’ll see, e-books offer some valuable advantages that make them an excellent option for your child.
Understanding Digital Native Reading Trends
While many adults today use technology daily, some users bear the distinction of being digital natives — meaning they grew up with computer technology. For example, you may be impressed or bewildered by how quickly a young child can learn to use a smartphone. Digital natives have a different relationship with technology than previous generations, but that’s not all. They also use reading and traditional media differently.
The National Literacy Trust in the United Kingdom has been studying children’s reading habits since 2005 and recently found that children today read less frequently than ever before. Research from the American Psychological Association found that fewer than one in five U.S. teens reads books, magazines or newspapers daily for pleasure. Contrast this with the fact that 80% of teens say they use social media every day. Digital natives undoubtedly find digital media more engaging than traditional media.
While this shift may seem disheartening, it’s not all bad news. Today, many books come in digital formats, including e-books and audiobooks. These can cater to digital natives’ preferences and encourage them to become avid readers in a way that fits their lifestyle.
Engaging Digital Natives in Education
Research supports the conclusion that electronic books can help children learn and enjoy reading. While print books still hold value and offer some conveniences over digital books, e-books come in a format with which digital natives are especially comfortable. For some learners, reading on a tablet rather than a print book can feel more engaging. This solution addresses a possible disadvantage of books in education — that students may perceive them as dull or antiquated.
E-books also open up possibilities that aren’t there for print books. Many early e-books are scanned versions of print books, but today, you’ll find more books designed for a digital format. Digital natives tend to associate relevance with technology and may be more inclined to read the classics if they come in a digital form. Print books can be engaging, too, but students who struggle with disinterest or reading comprehension may find e-books engage them more effectively.
Benefits of E-Books in Education
Digital books can be convenient for anyone who enjoys reading for pleasure, but they shine in an educational context. Textbooks and other reading materials that come in a digital format offer several advantages to instructors and learners.
- Offline access: For some online resources, a disadvantage is that you need an internet connection to access them. However, that’s not the case for many e-books, which you can download onto a device and continue to read even when you’re offline. It’s also easier to have all your books on hand when they’re on one slim, lightweight device instead of carrying a heavy stack of books.
- Affordability: In many cases, e-books are also more cost-effective than print books, especially compared to hardback books. You may even be able to get e-books on sale for as low as $1 to $5 in some cases. Authors and publishers still need to earn a living, so you’ll typically only find free e-books for works in the public domain. But avoiding the cost of ink and paper makes most e-books more affordable than print.
- Up-to-date content: Publishers may release a new edition of a textbook once every few years when there are enough updates to warrant it. In contrast, with e-books, publishers can frequently revise content without that same barrier. Often, educational e-books are more likely to contain the latest, most accurate information.
- Interactive component: Digital books may even be interactive with pictures or resources that children can investigate further to enrich their understanding of the story or the textbook material. They can also highlight and write notes without the limitations of page margins. Adding an interactive component can make written materials more engaging for learners who may struggle to concentrate while reading a traditional book.
- Personalized learning: E-books provide a level of customization a print book can’t match. For example, readers can adjust the font and text size to make it more legible and reduce eye strain. They can also take advantage of interactive components to enhance their learning. In addition to the example above, another example is a built-in dictionary that helps readers instantly build their vocabulary and reading comprehension.
- Digital literacy: Digital literacy has become an essential skill for all learners. Teachers often look for ways to incorporate technology into their classes to help students become confident tech users, preparing them for their futures in a digital learning and professional landscape. Using e-readers opens the door to other technologies to teach students to become more adept at using tech for a wide range of beneficial applications.
It’s no wonder educators and learners alike appreciate e-books for these valuable benefits and more. However, it’s worth noting that digital books are not always ideal for every student. The best use of books in education may look different for one child than it does for the next. And in many cases, using a combination of print and electronic books is the best way to enjoy the advantages of both options.
What to Know About CCA’s Technology for Online Students
At Commonwealth Charter Academy, we provide learners with the digital devices and print materials they need to succeed. That means you don’t have to worry about purchasing a laptop or e-reader for your child before they can participate in online school in Pennsylvania. CCA instructors leverage the benefits of virtual learning to help learners maximize their education. These may include e-books and print books — whatever works best to help students absorb the material and feel engaged in their learning.
Parents can also play a pivotal role in exposing their children to various forms of reading, including print and electronic books and audiobooks. See which format your child latches on to and encourage them to grow as readers in the way that fits them best. We’re all about personalized education at CCA and strive to see every learner achieve their goals.
Experience Virtual Classroom Technology at Commonwealth Charter Academy
If you’re interested in enrolling your child in an internet-based charter school, take a moment to learn more about CCA. We believe in student-centered, personalized learning, and we equip students with the practical tools they need — including technology — to give them access to this quality education. Join families across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who have become part of the CCA community. To learn more, request information online.