Textbooks have enjoyed the status of being an indispensable part of every classroom. And here, we are talking about the physical textbooks that are made up of paper and ink. While the physical textbooks have dominated the Indian education scenario for decades, they are gradually being replaced by the digital textbooks that are devoid of any physical form. In this blog post we will study about the digital textbooks in detail and explain how they are important for the Indian classrooms.
What are Digital Textbooks?
Digital Textbooks are the e-books that intend to serve as the source of educational information in classrooms. They are also referred to as digital books or e-books. They lack any physical form, thus it can be carried in a tablet, smartphone, laptop or PC as per the convenience. They makes reading easy on the go as the user doesn’t have to carry a physical book that otherwise takes up too much space. In online classes or virtual classroom, digital textbooks have played an important part as shipping the physical books can be tedious and costly. Some of the e-books are also available for free making education more affordable and wider in range.
Importance of Digital Textbooks in Indian Classrooms
There are umpteen benefits of Digital Textbooks in a conventional classroom. Since technology has been touching each and every sphere of our life including education, Digital Textbooks are no more an alien concept in schools. However, this technology has not been able to manifest itself completely into the educational domain. There are still many schools and colleges that rely on physical textbooks for delivering education. Though, it is expected that in the coming decade, physical textbooks might become a museum artefact after being replaced by its digital sister.
Before advocating the need of Digital Textbooks in a classroom, let’s study how they can benefit a traditional educational setup.
Textbooks are easily available
There are chances that you run up to a book store and end up not finding the book you want. Finding a specific physical book in the market can be tedious, time-taking and expensive. However, the Digital Textbooks are easily available on the internet. There are official websites, online e-book stores, e-commerce websites that provide Digital Textbooks on different topics penned by different authors.
Books prices have gone up considerably. Students from marginalised section of the society cannot afford these books. This makes education unapproachable for unprivileged people. However, Digital e-books are easily available online. Some are even available free of cost in PDF formats. All one requires is a tablet, laptop or PC. Digital Books save significant amount of money as compared to the physical textbooks.
The environmental cost of physical textbooks makes education less sustainable. The ink and paper used in the books have heavy environmental cost. After use, these books are discarded or even burnt to get rid of. Cost of production of books is also high and also requires heavy inputs like water, electricity, wood, etc. Digital version of the books doesn’t come with a hidden environmental cost. It reduces the reliance on paper for education.
The physical textbooks lack multimedia content for obvious reasons. Thus, it can get boring to learn from the paper-based books. On the other hand, the Digital books can contain animations, videos, polls and other interactive features to make learning more engaging. The teachers can also customize the textbooks for their students based on their requirements.
No Burden to Carry Physical Books
The physical books can be heavy to carry in a bag. While in case of Digital books, the students have to simply carry a tablet or laptop with them to school or college. They can also access their device and study whichever book they want irrespective of time and place. Same goes with the teachers, they can prepare their notes wherever they want to.
Availability of Up-To-Date Information
Updating information printed in a physical book is an expensive and time-taking process. Thus, some students continue to learn from the outdated books. However, in case of Digital Textbooks the information is updated as soon as it is out. It doesn’t require much labour and money. The author can immediately update the information on the Digital Book and make it available to its readers.
Outcomes of Incorporating Digital Textbooks in Education
Many governments and educational institutions are making large investments in Digital books and e-learning methods. According to the data from Bowker Market Research, students still rely on the printed textbooks over Digital books with only 3% of them using the latter. However, research suggests that the Digital books have the same impact as the printed books.