The book is a familiar friend to many of us; a book can be a place where we can meet wonderful characters and immerse ourselves in their worlds, or it can be a teacher to educate us about our favourite subjects. The book has been around in one form or another for many centuries but the format we recognise today was probably born in India, where the craft of book binding was pioneered. The first books to benefit from the technological advances which enabled book binding were religious texts, and the binding process used to create them was subsequently taken into Persia, China and beyond by Buddhist monks around the first century BC. The techniques of book binding spread throughout the world thereafter, and though the processes have evolved over the centuries, the end result is similar and instantly recognisable to all of us.
But now the book which we know so well has a competitor: the eBook. This latest technological development certainly has convenience on its side; an eBook reader is light and portable and can hold several thousand books, something that could only be done with the help of a large truck in the case of traditional books! So is it likely to take over from its paper counterpart and, more particularly, how do the two match up in the classroom?
The eBook certainly has its advantages: it gives students the ability to search for particular words or sentences when they want to locate a particular quotation, and it allows them to view dictionary definitions of any words they need help with in an instant. On the downside, it is more difficult to read from the screen and limits the ability for children to share their books. And, given their natural curiosity, there’s a tendency for kids to get distracted by other apps and tools on the reading device, which could be a disruption to learning. Naturally, cost is another major consideration. A move towards eBooks would require significant investment in technology which may be prohibitive for schools; children could easily lose their reading devices, or the devices themselves may not prove robust enough to withstand the constant wear at the hands of pupils which use in the classroom would expose them to.
The bound book has been a mainstay of the classroom for generations. Its physical form makes it easy to flick through and read; its size and format make it convenient for students to share in the classroom if there aren’t enough copies to go round, and it certainly doesn’t cost anywhere near as much to replace if it is lost or damaged. When compared to the eBook, however, it does lose out from being self-contained and having no other inbuilt learning materials such as a dictionary. The result is that students are likely to have to carry several different text books, and could lose time and concentration when they have to switch between them to look up information.
We must conclude then that, as is usually the case when technology vies with traditional media, there is a place for both. We may one day see a move to 100% eBook usage in the classroom but we would need to get the devices in place first and thoroughly stress test them in that environment. For the present, the printed book is a convenient classroom companion which lets teachers supervise more easily, so it’s likely it will not lose its place just yet.
Guest blog by Binding Store www.bindingstore.co.uk/ who sell business solutions for a wide variety of binding and printing finishing needs.