Can computers replace textbooks?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
Can computers replace textbooks?

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This question opens up the possibility for many interesting scenarios. Will schools of the future have a computer at every desk? Will homework be completed and then emailed to teachers for grading? The ideas for a school of the future are not that farfetched. Already many teachers and parents communicate by email, research is done online not at the school library, and many presentations are created on the computer and projected to the class as a whole.

Can computers really replace textbooks? A large number of teachers took part in this poll and the results were less than 1% apart. So the answer to the question seems to be yes - or no-or who knows? On a practical level can school districts afford to equip schools with enough computers for every student? With the current budget restrictions this possibility is debatable. Another obvious question is what happens to children in less affluent areas? When families are having a hard time providing food and shelter the chance that those children have access to a home computer is highly unlikely.

If we forget about the problems and just look at the question in a completely logical way, then yes computers could replace textbooks. The entire textbook could be made available online along with numerous other research sources that would be unavailable if the students used the textbook only. It would be far simpler to provide students with updated copies of learning material because there would no longer be a need to purchase updated textbooks. All upgrades would happen online and be available to all schools instantaneously.

The thought of textbooks going the way of quills and parchment paper is sad. There is a certain satisfaction gained from turning a page of a book, or flipping through the index to find what you're seeking. Reading the words on the luminous computer screen doesn't provide the same feeling at all. Even if you're not a book lover, textbooks have other uses. What are you going to use to weigh down and straighten out those crumpled old photos your Mom wants you to save? Our bookshelves would look awfully empty without some of those trusted old friends as well.

Perhaps the question shouldn't have been can computers replace textbooks, but should they?